Monday, July 18, 2016

“Do not compare me to the Jaws mayor!”

Full disclosure: I was deeply skeptical of the new Ghostbusters movie. The controversy, the trailers, the leaked plot rumors (that turned out to be true), the previous failed attempts to get Ghostbusters 3 off the ground where Bill Murray allegedly shredded up a script and mailed it back to Dan Aykroyd. So for at least ten years, the story behind making a new Ghostbusters has been a shitshow, and before that, a pipe dream. The last time I actually wanted to see a new real, live Ghostbusters movie was in high school computer class back in 2001. I went into this skeptical but hopeful that it would surprise me.

So why am I writing a review of a movie I didn't really want to see for 15 years?

I had to know.

Not for the controversy, not because somebody else recommended it. I had to know for myself.

Now I know.

Its a giant piece of dogshit that has nothing to do with who has what kind of chromosomes.

First the setup. Have you ever seen Ghostbusters? It follows the major story beats without taking much time to set things up because this isn't a reboot of Ghostbusters. It's a remake. For the uninitiated: some academics have crazy ideas about researching the paranormal. They get kicked out by the faculty for being crackpots. They go into business for themselves, hire a secretary, investigate paranormal occurrences, have some rocky starts, build technology to catch ghosts, hire a new employee, successfully capture a ghost, attract the attention of a cranky mayor, then find themselves the only thing that can stop a giant supernatural threat that could destroy the city of New York.

All that's missing is the humor, the scares, the buildup of a credible supernatural threat, chemistry between the leads, character development that sticks, humor, any kind of made-up rules for how you could use technology to capture ghosts, any kind of a love interest plot that goes anywhere, quotable lines, and humor.

But it does have poop jokes. And fart jokes. And it steals a gag from Young Frankenstein. Oh, and there's a queef joke. And a pointless cameo from Ozzy Osbourne. And its got Bill Murray in a cameo where he looks dead inside.

And it devolves into a 20 minute action sequence at the end with fight choreography and goofy weapons and shooting the physical manifestation of their logo in the dick.

Our four leads are Erin Gilbert played by Kristen Wiig, who was once big into paranormal investigation but left it behind to become a real scientist and then loses her tenure track when she reunites with her old collaborator/friend and flips out after almost catching a ghost and her supervisor fires her. You would think that would lead to conflict between the two, and in a good script it would. Anyway, aside from playing the straight face of the group, she just fades into the background in most scenes. Except when she accidentally kills a man by releasing the only ghost they've managed to catch and it throws him out a window to prove to him that ghosts exist. See, its funny because its Bill Murray's cameo.

Yeah, that was a spoiler. I'm not sorry.

Next is Abbey Yates, played by Melissa McCarthy, who babbles incessantly. That's it. No realizing she accidentally ruined her friend's academic career, no self-awareness, no character development at all.

Abby has partnered up with Jillian Holtzmann, played by Kate McKinnon. Her only purpose in the plot is to be a mad scientist type who creates anti-ghost weaponry and rattles off techno-jargon. So to fill time, she mugs for the camera because there's nothing else to work with. She's one “Freunlaven” away from turning into Mr. Director from Animaniacs.

And last is Patty Tolan, played by Leslie Jones. She's an MTA employee with an encyclopedic knowledge of the weird side of New York and the connections to get a vehicle for the team. She's useful, resourceful, tough, and, remarkably enough, the most believable, fleshed out and likable character in the entire movie and actually has a character arc where she grows from when she's introduced. The movie might even have been better if it was just Patty and Holtz getting into crazy shenanigans. 

They hire Kevin Beckman, played by Chris Hemsworth. Kevin's a narcissistic, airheaded idiot who is miraculously still alive, but he's pretty and Erin has an immediate crush on him, so he's hired. He gets close to some genuine comedy because the character's such an oddball.

There's Rowan North played by Neil Casey, who's the villain. He's creepy and wants to usher in the Fourth Cataclysm (whatever that is) because he's...been bullied all his life? Its stupid and then he kills himself and turns into a ghost that can possess people and then he turns into a terrible CGI version of the Ghostbusters Logo and gets shot in the ghost crotch before being sucked into a portal.

Oh, and there's Andy Garcia as the mayor of New York who knows about ghosts and the supernatural, but helps the Feds clamp down on it to prevent panic. I only mention him because its Andy Garcia and he gets the only line that got a chuckle out of me (which is the quote I used above).

So to sum up what's good about this remake? Leslie Jones and some of the ghost effects. Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson both had good cameos. I had hoped that the controversy surrounding this movie would have at least been a lot of noise about an average movie with a few yuks. The script is terrible, the chemistry between the leads is absent, and there's absolutely zero weight to anything going on in this movie.

Instead, it commits the two biggest sins of comedy: Its boring, and its not funny.

The Star Wars Holiday Special of Ghostbusters.  

Avoid it if you can.

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