This re-tooling of the hit 1984 supernatural comedy about a group of paranormal investigators who figure out a way to capture ghosts gets a gender twist.
Fritz: Before we get to discussing the new Ghostbusters, it's probably necessary to address the Internet hubbub that's surrounded it for months. Internet trolls are up in arms over it, to put it mildly. Its trailer was the most disliked trailer in the history of YouTube. Online debates about the film have been ugly, even by the extremely low standards of the Internet. So, it's important to say that neither of us believes there's anything wrong with women headlining a franchise previously headlined by men. It's also ludicrous when someone says a sequel/reboot/remake of a beloved property "ruined my childhood." Even if Ed Wood rose from the grave and shot remakes of Star Wars, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Ghostbusters, it still shouldn't destroy anyone's memories. The original films still exist and your memories are cast in whatever light you choose to cast them. That said, it's also possible for a person to be indifferent/disinterested in Hollywood's umpteenth reboot for reasons that have nothing to do with misogyny.
Okay, now let's talk about the film itself. I wasn't crazy about it, but you had a much stronger dislike for it. What bothered you the most?
David: What bothered me the most is the low energy the whole film has. I generally like Kristen Wiig because she is often very funny. Here, she's the glum straight man, er, woman here and has nothing to do. The same for Melissa McCarthy. Her comedic personality is stifled here. As for the other two lady Ghostbusters - Kate McKinnon mumbles all of her lines while Leslie Jones shouts most of hers. And most of what they say isn't that funny or clever. The script, by Katie Dippold and director Paul Feig, is stillborn – I mean, it takes the characters forever to start busting ghosts! The stupid villain, who is attempting to use spirits to open the gates of hell or something like that, is unmemorable. This just feels like a lazy cash grab with no one bringing anything to the table.
Why did you not hate this?
Fritz: On a four-star scale, it's probably a two star for me. I liked McKinnon - I thought she brought a weirdness to the film it sorely needed. A few of Chris Hemsworth's lines as the dumb beefcake secretary made me chuckle, as did a few of Cecily Strong's lines as the mayor's aide. I agree with you about Wiig and McCarthy. Much of it does feel lazy, especially the final third, which feels interminable. Like many reboots, it made me think, "Yeah, I've seen this before and liked it better the first time."
I think this new Ghostbusters would've been better served to go the route of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Creed. Those movies aren't perfect, but they restarted franchises by introducing new characters and having them bounce off iconic favorites in their twilight years. All of the surviving principal cast members from the 1984 Ghostbusters are in this one (unfortunately, almost all of the cameos feel forced). So if they were all willing to come back, why didn't they just include them as supporting characters? The women could've taken over the mantle from the original guys, who could be retired or out of business. Rumors swirled for years that Bill Murray would only return for a Ghostbusters sequel if he got to play a ghost. The ghost of Peter Venkman would have been more interesting than anything that happens in this film.
Do you think they should've tried the sequel route instead of the reboot route?
David: Yes, there are a few humorous moments from Hemsworth in his interview scene, but the character became increasingly annoying to me. In her few scenes, Strong did give the film a faint pulse.
But that protracted special effects finale is torture and just kills it all. It's not funny, interesting or exciting, and the digitally created ghosts look like graphics out of a video game from the late 1980s.
As for bringing in Venkman back as a ghost, it could have been really interesting. The ghosts in all the Ghostbuster films are all simply bad and evil. Having a good ghost for the busters to deal with could have opened up some funny complications. And, yes, pass the mantle - make one of the women be Venkman's daughter.
Fritz: People have a special relationship with the movies, songs, and books they loved as children. Sadly, that occasionally turns toxic as we saw with the nastier online comments about Ghostbusters. But thinking about how much people born in the 70s love the 1984 Ghostbusters made me think about my niece (about to turn 11). She's excited about the new Ghostbusters. I'll be interested to see how she feels about it and I'll be interested to see how she feels about it 10 years from now.