Film Grains: Ghostbusters (2016) by Jason Beaulieu

Ghostbusters gif

Anticipation:    2/5       The all-female cast didn’t bother me – in fact I thought it was a great idea, but everything about the first trailer put me off wanting to see the movie.

 Final Verdict:    4/5    Ghostbusters (2016) is certainly not a perfect movie, but it’s a sigh of relief after the constant bombardment of negative press the film had been getting. Paul Feig’s reboot is great summer entertainment that will delight new and old fans alike.

The original 1984 and 1989 movies marked a generation nearly as much as the original Star Wars and Back to the Future trilogies. Original Ghostbuster Dan Aykroyd had been wanting to make a third movie of the franchise since the mid-90’s, going from ideas like a hellish, parallel-universe New York City with the original cast reprising their roles, to an animated version, to him mentoring a new generation of Ghostbusters. Hence, the third installment was in limbo for over two decades. In all honesty, there was no need for a third movie. Ghostbusters 2 had its moments, but it nearly wrecked the franchise with that ridiculous Statue of Liberty scene.

When Sony/Columbia finally settled on Paul Feig as the film’s writer and director, my first reaction was to think: “hmm, this just might work.” As a hardcore fan of the Freaks and Geeks series and movies such as Bridesmaids and Spy, I was willing to accept what vision Feig would bring to the mythology.

Then the first trailer came out…

To me, it felt like paint by numbers: the cheesy piano riff from the original Ray Parker Jr song, the horrible fonts, the lack of any spectacle… I don’t want to get too much into it, but I was hugely disappointed by the preview. What made me want to see the movie anyway, as July 15th approached, was my frustration against the trolls that put down the all-female cast even before the movie had hit the screens. The movie kept getting terrible press, and Paul Feig had to constantly defend it, the same way he had to defend Freaks and Geeks. This was the selling point for me: I wanted to root for the underdog, I wanted the movie to be successful…so I went…

…and I loved it!

Make no mistake, it will never be as good as the original 1984 movie, but what Feig has achieved here is a good balance between respect for what has come before and his own vision of the Ghostbusters. The new group consists of paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), and subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones). The ‘creation’ of the team is nicely done and slowly the team bond as they investigate a series of ghost sightings invading Manhattan. Bridesmaids fans will delight in the exchanges between Wiig and McCarthy’s characters, who are frenemies and co-authors of the book called ‘Ghosts from our Pasts: Both Literally and Figuratively.’ The movie also finds a way to make fun of the trolls dissing the cast members, which leads me to add that Leslie Jones’ character is not – as many claimed – the ‘token black character’ in the movie. Yes, she was advertised as ‘the subway girl who knows New York,’ but within the team, she becomes a historian who makes links between a location’s past and why ghosts seem to appear there.

The one team member I had issues with was Jillian Holtzmann. Kate McKinnon is excellent on Saturday Night Live, but her portrayal of Holtzmann is hammy and ridiculous. Her mad-scientist personality is constantly off-kilter with the other three. I also had a problem with how dumb Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin character was. The first few jokes were funny, but they keep going until the end of the movie. Ok, we get it, he’s a brainless stud muffin, move on…

The movie does lack what the original movie had in droves, and that’s catch phrases; quotable lines. Maybe it’s because they had been said before, but nothing really stood out in spite of the many comedic conversations between the four protagonists that felt more improvised than scripted. The writing is very good, but the movie’s highlights are in its special effects and the many new gadgets that are developed to catch the ghosts. I also have to mention that the movie should be seen in IMAX format. The ghosts and charged particle beams in the movie’s climax come straight at you and make the experience feel like a Disney ride.

I had a real blast watching Feig’s Ghostbusters (2016), and it certainly doesn’t deserve the bad press it’s been getting. When the first trailer dropped, it was something weird and it didn’t look good… But, I’ve had my dose of freaky ghost baby, and now I ain’t afraid of no ghost… Who are you gonna call?

Ghostbusters (2016) trailer… the weird one that didn’t look good…

Ghostbusters (2016) International trailer, that was much better. (No joke.)

Here’s a Film Faculty article written by Jason Michael in response to The Guardian’s Noah Berlatsky, who wrote ‘Ghostbusters Reboot: Who You Gonna Call For Slimy Sex With a Spectre?’

Here’s a fun Sydney Morning Herald article written by Karl Quinn entitled ‘Ghostbusters, Reddit, Twitter and the Curious Case of the Troll Who Was Trolled’ whose subject is the rather “intense” Ghostbusters ‘fan’ that hoped the movie would fail.

Be sure to give Jason Beaulieu a big shout out and warm welcome to film reviewing on Twitter @JayBeaulieu for his first review for Film Faculty !

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. Really enjoyed the film and its been a while since we’ve had a pure family blockbuster like this. However I loved McKinnon and felt her being off-kilter made her stand out in a good way, but could easily see how she could come across as out of place. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment, Benjamin! McKinnon’s performance seems to have split audiences right down the middle. Jason (the reviewer) had a great time. I’m looking forward to seeing it soon :) Would you say it’s a good movie to take the kids to see (9 and 10)?

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      1. I’d say its perfect! Visual feast and plenty of entertainment.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Great! Thanks!

        Like

  2. I also really, really enjoyed it. I loved Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy, as well as the McCarthy-Feig combination and this is another solid entry into both of their filmographies. The amount of fun in the film is what made it, as that is an element i believe has been greatly lacking from this summer blockbuster season. I also thought the special effects were good – cartoonish, yes, but isn’t that part of the charm?

    A great review (and i love the new site design!) – here’s mine, in case you were interested – http://perksofbeingnath.blogspot.com/2016/07/ghostbusters-2016-3d-review.html

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Nathan! I’m glad you also liked the movie (and the new site!). I think that the ghosts being “cartoonish” was really to get parents to bring their kids to see it. Ghostbusters has never taken itself seriously, IMO. I’ll ask Jason (the reviewer) about the special effects and get back to you soon!

      Like

  3. librarian25 says:

    I’d say this film was a 2.5/5 for me. Like everybody else I thought the trailers were bad, even turning me off so fast in the jokes, and story. I’ll say that what I liked from the trailer (visuals, ideas, ghosts) were what stood out to me in the movie. I loved those aspects, and was surprised how much Chris Hemsworth made me laugh at the beginning (Although it got old by the end). The problems I had about this film were the nods to the original, and the characters. The nods were fine, but it pulled me out of the film and at times felt cringe worthy. The characters were barely characters to me. They had enough in their history and story to say “I’m…..” but throughout the film it felt like it was four comedians trying to be funny rather than four characters that are put in comedic situations. Also, I’m in the camp of McKinnon being too much.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Librarian25 (a reference to the Grey Lady, Eleanor Twitty, from Ghostbusters (1984)? :)) ! I had heard many comments about the cameos being distracting more than anything else. Given your overall grade, 2.5/5 seems about right considering the things you mention you liked. It’s been very divisive so far, to the point that someone I know mentioned that the overall score on Rotten Tomatoes was higher than projected simply because expectations were so low at the outset. I’m eager to see where it ends up in terms of overall acceptance :)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. librarian25 says:

        Actually, Librarian25 is because I like books and have worked in libraries before :P So, you were close.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. greercn says:

    I loved this movie too and didn’t look at my watch, even to peek. Four strong women who don’t look like supermodels but are super funny? And a dumb but cute male secretary? What’s NOT to love when so many Hollywood tropes are inverted? Thank you for your refreshing review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you to you for dropping by :) There was quite a bit of subversion going on and I agree that it’s pleasant to see! :)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. At last, a positive review that’s somewhat objective

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Karina! It’s been a difficult year for objectivity, I agree :)

      Liked by 1 person

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