Thursday, December 1, 2016

Movie #380: Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters is a remake of the 1984 film, and stars Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Neil Casey, Andy Garcia, Cecily Strong, and cameos from a lot of the original cast.

Erin Gilman (Wiig) is a physicist who reconnects with her estranged friend Abby (McCarthy) after discovering the book they wrote about ghosts is still extant (and costing Gilman her chance at tenure). Roped into an investigation along with Abby's new partner Holtzmann (McKinnon), they discover a real ghost, and dedicate themselves to studying and proving the existence of said creatures. Along the way they pick up a pretty but not especially bright receptionist (Hemsworth) and an uneducated but well-read and knowledgeable MTA worker (Jones).

Turns out, however, that the increased supernatural activity is due to an embittered MRA scientist named Rowan (Casey) who wants to unleash the unquiet dead and then rule the world post-cataclysm. And into all of this, the mayor of New York (Garcia) and his obsequious assistant (Strong) are telling the Ghostbusters to keep up the good work, but y'know, don't actually expect any support or acknowledgement.

This movie had a somewhat problematic reception, he said understatedly. It's a remake of a classic comedy movie starring women, which means that all of the shitheads ever crawled out of reddit and chan sites to shit on it every chance they got. They drove Leslie Jones off Twitter with harassment, and basically made it impossible to judge the movie on its own merits - if you're a misogynist shitbag, of course you're gonna hate it. It's "stealing your childhood" or some such nonsense. If you're into movies that star women, then you kind of feel obligated to like it.

I've now seen it three times (twice in theaters, once at home), and here's what I think: It follows a similar plotline to the original, but there are important differences, and not just the gender swap. First off, the characters are scientists. In the original, only Egon was really interested in science for its own sake (well, kinda Ray, too), but the driving force behind the work was to make money. Here, the women aren't charging for their services; their motive is entirely scientific (and then, like, save the world).

The humor is more front-and-center; the original is a comedy, but it includes horror and sci-fi aspects just as strongly. This one is much more a comedy; almost everything is a joke. Much of it is letting the four leads do their particular act, which might be why McKinnon comes off so well; she's acting and playing a character more than doing a schtick. That said, I think the chemistry between the cast is pretty awesome.

There are some questions about the how the metaphysics of the world work (the fight scene at the end - what are those balloons? Can you whip a ghost to death? What happens to ghosts hit with grenades?) that don't really get resolved, but the movie is pretty clearly meant to set up a franchise...which it's not gonna do, because it disappointed at the box office. I'm bummed about that. I thought, frankly, it was more accessible and, in a lot of ways, funnier than the original. I like that the leads interact with the secondary characters (imagine Venkman giving half a shit about Janine the way that the ladies do about Kevin - not just Erin's creepy crush on him, but how the others protect him and obviously care about thim?) and, of course, I like that the fact that the leads are women is important to the movie but not the entire plot.

Overall, I think this movie came out really well, and I'm sad that it didn't get the support it deserved.

My grade: A-
Rewatch value: High

Next up: Magic Mike