Ghostbusters 2016 Review

I sat down in the theater the other night and said to myself, “Look. This may not be what you want, but at least try to be happy that you’re getting more Ghostbusters! Sit back, relax, and enjoy a new Ghostbusters movie.” Beware, here be spoilers…

The reviews of Ghostbusters have been mixed. While Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes would have you believe that the film has roughly 75% positive reviews, very few critics have said that this is actually a good movie. Each review basically says, “it’s fine.” And that’s (more or less) how I felt about it.

As expected, Feig was the absolute wrong choice to direct Ghostbusters. He was totally out of his element with this material. If he wanted to make a movie about a team of 4 women scientists chasing aliens or something, that would have been fine. But he tried to make a Ghostbusters movie with his style of non-stop jokes and the end result was just a mess. Even in just the first 2 minutes of the movie they tried to cram like 10 jokes down your throat. Directed with all the subtlety of a hand grenade. It was exhausting.

As for the leads, everyone had moments that worked. But not many. Overall, Wiig was kind of boring, McCarthey was loud, Jones was really loud and McKinnon was on a totally different planet. I couldn’t stand her performance. It was just non-stop mugging for the camera and doing weird voices. While that might work for a 2-minute SNL sketch, it’s just way too much for a 90-minute film. Chris Hemsworth definitely showed that he has some comedic chops, but “Kevin” was so stupid it stopped being funny. No adult man (no matter how good looking) can live that long being that stupid.

The villain was contrived and totally useless, and lays out his whole evil plan (getting back at the world for being mean to him) to himself, in front of a mirror. Who does that? Later, Wiig gets ahold of his diary which is just page after page of detailed drawings depicting the havoc he will unleash on New York once he’s a giant ghost. Good thing Wiig’s character found that diary or the Ghostbusters would literally have no idea what to do next.

The biggest problem I had was the fact that none of this was taken seriously. And of course it’s a whacky concept that should be fun, I’m not denying that. But the first movie had stakes…

Egon: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Ray: Total protonic reversal.
Peter: That’s bad. Okay. Alright, important safety tip, thanks Egon.

They made it very clear that you could die if you were hit by these proton streams. Egon says, “Venkman, shorten your stream, I don’t want my face burned off!” To me, that indicates that even though it’s a fun comedy, our heroes aren’t invincible.

In GB16, each piece of new tech is seemingly developed overnight, and the first time they use the proton packs in public, McCarthey yells, “Don’t shoot Patty anywhere important!” So these nuclear accelerators can cause massive property damage, but are totally harmless to people? If the heroes can’t be hurt, why do I care? A possessed McCarthey literally spins her head around 180 degrees, which would kill anyone, but because they wanted to do an Exorcist joke (real timely), she’s just fine.

At the end of the day this whole movie is just a dumb, colorful cartoon. If that was the intention from the beginning, that’s fine, just make a cartoon! If you want to make a real movie, treat the property with respect, treat your audience with respect, and try harder to make a good film! Don’t pander to the lowest common denominator simply because it’s easier.

I know no one tries to make a bad film, but too often filmmakers and studios talk down to audiences because they think the audience just wants dumb entertainment. But I guarantee if you just spend the time to craft a great script and make a great film, everyone will love it.

That’s what they did with Ghostbusters ’84, and I’d say that worked out pretty well.