What really sucks sometimes is being an advocate. Especially in a post-internet, rage-filled world. I have been accused of being a “social justice warrior” and I resent that, as I don’t like being lumped in with any group that I consider as being ill-informed or fundamentalist in their arguments. So when it was announced that there would be an all-female Ghostbusters reboot, I was for the new approach.
The idea of a new Ghostbusting team with new technology appealed to me. The idea still does, even after seeing the new Ghostbusters film. Did the new Ghostbusters film live up to my expectations? Well, no…no, it didn’t.
First and foremost, the cast is beyond underutilised, and I’m looking directly at the screenwriters. Paul Feig and Katie Dippold did a major disservice to these actresses. Kate McKinnon especially suffers from an undeveloped character. She has little dialogue, and the dialogue she does have does little to help me to understand the character. That really bummed me out because after seeing the trailers, Holtzman was the character I was most interested in getting to know.
Kristen Wiig could have been replaced by any other actress and the results would have been the same. Wiig is forced to play a by-the-books rule follower, and it kills me to see her forced into such a boring role. It’s a far cry from her Evangelist role in Paul or her numerous SNL characters.
But not all is lost. Melissa McCarthy’s character has a sincerity about her that reminds me very much of Dan Ackyord’s in the original Ghostbusters. She also takes on a leadership role in the group, which I think plays to McCarthy’s acting strengths, which were on show last year when she starred in St. Vincent.
Leslie Jones, who I expected to annoy the shit out of me, was not as obtuse or over-the-top loud as I expected her to be. If you wanted to see a black woman screaming at people, like the trailers portrayed, you will be disappointed. That’s not really the character, much to my relief.
Now, some have suggested that the villain played by Neil Casey is a direct attack on nerds and nerd culture. But I would disagree with that assessment. Casey portrays the same sad nerd that we have been seeing in comedies since Animal House. It’s just an indicator of Hollywood still being mired in old stereotypes. Again, more indications of the laziness of the screenplay.
Chris Hemsworth had some pretty funny one-liners. He has a pretty decent understanding of comedic timing, but I did find is level of stupidity grating at times.
The only interesting idea at play here is the idea of the villain building steampunk-esque machines to summon ghosts to New York City and the Ghostbusters having to counter that with their own technology. This idea had a lot of potential. Instead, what we get is an hour and a half Scooby-Doo cartoon, minus the dog.
The best summation of Ghostbusters for me is the idea that some talented people got together and thought, “We can do this, we can build a new franchise and bring Ghostbusters back to the public conscience.” But then about halfway through the crafting process, the screenwriters got bored and wanted to watch Game of Thrones or some other entertaining equivalent, and crapped out the same comedy garbage that has been a mainstay of movie theatres since someone thought it would be a good idea to do another Dumb and Dumber film.
I wanted this film to be good. I stood up for it and the idea that everyone should be able to take a crack at putting their spin on old franchises. I still believe in that idea, and if they announced another reboot of Ghostbusters ten years from now, I would stand up for a female-led cast just as vigorously as I did for this one. But that doesn’t mean this film is beyond reproach. It’s marketed as female empowerment, when in truth it is a half-baked cynical cash grab that relied on the rage so graciously supplied by SJWs and their detractors to make the film critic-proof. Sony played us all like a harp from hell lesson hopefully learnt.