I don’t care if Hollywood remakes old movies. I also don’t care if Campbell’s starts making a soup called Tomatoes and Turds. New flavors don’t change the taste of the old ones. If you like Tomato, you can still have Tomato, without the turds. Which is what I’d recommend.
Some people, though, get worked up about remakes. They treat it like a personal insult, like Hollywood somehow stripped away a piece of their childhood. It’s silly to get worked up about shit like that. Hollywood isn’t in the business of protecting moviegoers fragile senses of self-worth as defined by which old movies they’ve canonized. They are in the business of making Tomatoes and Turds.
Besides, it’s ridiculous for anyone to worry that the new Ghostbusters will ruin their childhoods retroactively. We should worry about this piece of shit ruining childhoods in real time.
Ghostbusters is pretty fucking bad. It’s timid and limp, something gummy and bland served up for old people with soft teeth. The story follows the original: a team of disgraced scientists with homemade weapons discover paranormal activity in New York, but very few people believe them. Then the shit hits the fan and the ghosts break loose and start wrecking shit.
The dead are summoned from eternal rest by a loner (Neil Casey) who had a bad time in high school and seeks revenge by destroying the world. First of all, what a fucking tired cliché. And from a guy (Director Paul Feig) who made his bones with one of the best representations of outsiders in TV history (Freaks and Geeks). Second of all, not every miserable fuck wants to destroy the world. I had a shit time in high school, too, but I haven’t been plotting my revenge ever since. That’s because the people I hated in high school, which was everyone, were assholes. They’re probably still assholes. Easier just to ignore them, except the girls who might have treated me bad but I still think I might have a shot with some of them. Like so much of this movie, the loner bad guy is lazy moviemaker shorthand that says ,“Ah, fuck it. Good enough.”
Instead of four men, the Ghostbusters are all women now. They don’t directly correlate to the four characters in the original movie, except that there is, once again, precisely one black person (Leslie Jones), and she is the only one who isn’t a scientist. She’s also big and brassy. So much for trying to subvert stereotypes with an all-female cast, huh? Why doesn’t the movie have a wise American Indian in it, and a granny with a shockingly foul mouth?
In what some will confuse as a further subversion of stereotypes, Chris Hemsworth plays a stupid-as-an-MTV-Teen-Mom receptionist to the four women. In that capacity, he gets heaped with sexual objectification and the laziest of dumb-jock jokes. Was this supposed to be a “How do you guys like it now?” moment because, really, I was too fucking bored by the joke to feel affronted.
The Ghostbusters are led by Melissa McCarthy playing the same abrasive, louche character she always plays, and Kristen Wiig playing the same mousy, neurotic she always plays. The last of the Busters is Kate McKinnon as the butch hardware specialist. She’s the only one whose freshness date didn't expire in 1992 (which also goes for the awful hip-hop reinterpretation of the original song. I swear to god it sounds like Salt'n'Pepa), and the only one who’s fun to watch. She slightly autistic, narrowly focused on destruction and about as good at social niceties as the average auto parts store clerk.
The bulk of the movie is boring as fuck. We’re stuck waiting along with these four women for ghosts to show up. The movie doles out a couple of encounters as it plods along toward what should be a huge and fun climactic battle. These early ghosts, though, are a premonition of what’s to come. They’re visually dull and easily defeated. The tool used by the women to detect ghosts looks like a cheap spinning toy kids buy at the rodeo. Basically, I felt like I was on a virtual reality ride at a sub-Disney amusement park where the monsters were slightly out of focus and done on a shoestring budget.
The climactic battle should have been overwhelming, a visual orgy of destruction and peril. Feig has New York, he has ghosts and he has nuclear-powered weapons. Yet, all he manages is a dull walkthrough by heroes who aren’t ever really in danger. First they must get through a battalion of New York’s dead come back to life. This could be fun and maybe where the city finally becomes a character and stereotypes work for the movie. There could be hooker, huckster, Indian, mobster and Wall Street banker ghosts. Ratso Rizzo could be there. Instead, largely nondescript ghosts come in waves, and are easily dispatched. Earlier, the Ghostbusters try to contain ghosts, but in this battle they appear to just want to throw them aside. There is a Macy’s Parade of ghost balloons, but I’m not sure why since it’s not Thanksgiving. They’re just a visual the movie didn’t have the discipline to resist, and then didn’t execute well.
So many of Ghostbusters’ jokes feel like the sort of shit that make old people smile gently. There's a running gag about Chinese food delivery that doesn’t have enough shrimp or wontons in the soup. Does that sound funny to you? What if I tell you the delivery guy is always late? Have you fallen out of your chair yet?
There are cameos from the people in the original movie, but the story pretends the original story never existed. So the cameos have the old actors playing inconsequential bit parts. Bill Murray has a brief scene as a skeptic. His character’s departure is meant to be hilariously abrupt, but the setup is too weak and pointless to work. Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, and a statue of Harold Ramis raise their hands only because they’d get marked absent if they didn’t. Ozzy Osbourne, too. Once you get past wondering who the fuck thought two seconds of Ozzy was a good idea, you have to grapple with the fact that he’s only there to deliver a rickety Bob Hope USO worthy punchline. Uninspired filler, all of it.
I don’t know why anyone would make a comedy about ghosts and do it so timidly. Ghostbusters is just a compilation of compromises, as though Feig expended all his risk-taking capital on making the heroes women and had nothing left for a decent story, good jokes or great visuals. More turds than tomatoes, for sure. Two Fingers.