Growing up, my favorite movie was Ghostbusters. I remember having a copy of the movie that we’d recorded off TV, and watching it like crazy. When I went to the library I always checked to see if they had a copy of Tobin’s Spirit Guide (yes, I now know it was a fictional book … but I did buy a copy of the tie-in product version they just released). I wanted to go to New York City, take pictures of the lions in front of the library, edit them to have red eyes, and show the photos to my show and tell class. As life went on, my love of Ghostbusters remained. In fact, in college my roommate banned me from every being able to watch Ghostbusters with him around after I wouldn’t stop quoting along with the movie – even going to so far as to mimic the siren sound the cop car makes when the ground opens up near the end.
So, if you ask me now what my favorite movie is, I’ll still say Ghostbusters. Depending on how you phrase the question I might answer Vertigo, which is my favorite proper “film.” But Ghostbusters … man, like so many other people, that one has a very special place in my heart.
Given my love of the original, I was … worried … about the new movie. The female cast? No problem. That’s fine. Melissa McCarthy? Well … I’m a little sick of her. But above all I was worried that by treating this as a reboot they just plain wouldn’t make a good movie. Thankfully I was wrong.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
The other night I finally had the chance to go see the new Ghostbusters movie. My 9-year-old son and I went to a Saturday night showing, and both of us came away quite happy. The movie was definitely respectful of the original’s style and mixture of comedy and horror (although the new one is a little more comedy, a little less horror). The actors/actresses all did good in their respective roles – although Kate McKinnon pretty much stole the show. Great nods to the original were in there, although some of the cameos seemed a bit forced and unnecessary (in particular, Bill Murray’s part could have just not been in the movie at all and it wouldn’t have hurt a thing).
As for the issues I had with the movie, well I think they’re part of the fact that it’s 2016 and not 1984 – and the movie was made for a slightly different audience. The original Ghostbusters was just a horror comedy with mostly adults in mind – kids gravitated toward it, of course, but it was filled with adult references and humor (one of the reasons my 9-year-old hasn’t seen it). The plan wasn’t to make a fortune through a carefully crafted product so much as to just make the movie. For that, it does remain a bit more pure of a film than this remake. There’s a level of darkness in the original (see the whole “end times” talk in the cab) that isn’t there in the new one, and honestly the advent of CGI, while making “prettier” ghosts, also allowed the filmmakers to be more careless in their attempts to bring the ghosts to life. Scenes like the library with the cards and stacks of books, or the arms ripping out of the chair and dragging Dana Barret into a demon hound room of light have been mostly replaced with semi-transparent ghosts made of computer graphics, which definitely took away from the spook factor – but at the same time made the movie much more accessible for my son. (The scariest part for him was when the pipes rattled and the slow camera pan to look down the drain).
Yes, there were a few parts I hated. In particular the whole part where Slimer steals the Ecto-1 and then shows up later with some kind of lady Slimer in his passenger seat. It was ridiculous – but then after the movie was over, my son told me that one of his favorite parts was one with Slimer and Lady Slimer. So go figure. Also, the reverse misogynistic portrayal by Chris Hemsworth as the receptionist (yeah I “get” it – but Jeanine was actually a strong female role model in the Ghostbusters movies, in my opinion – definitely not a stupid sex object). I will admit though, the “which of these makes me look more like a doctor” vote was pretty funny.
My quibbles aside, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the movie worked. It was “kind of” scary, pretty funny – but above all, an exciting adventure that thrilled like few movies have done lately. No over-the-top raunchiness. No gratuitous amounts of gore. Just a fun movie with a few scares, a few laughs and a team of people who, as my son put it, “even though they are girls, they were still really cool.”
I for one can’t wait to see them come back for the sequel. The tie-in ‘Ghosts from Our Past‘ book is also now on my “to-read” list.