Hoo boy. There’s a lot of shit going into this review. Tons of discourse both ways. So many people wanted this to be the best movie ever, and so many people weren’t even willing to see it, even though it’s bound to make a metric fuckload of money regardless. Personally, I’m not quite as gung-ho about Paul Feig as most critics seem to be, but he’s a very capable director. Still, the critical community wholeheartedly agreed that this movie is pretty “meh,” so I didn’t know what to think.
Ultimately, I think my appreciation for this movie is a little skewed because it’s exactly my type of movie. It’s really funny, it’s got some cosmic shit in it, it’s got great action, pretty good cinematography, really good special effects, a really solid soundtrack, Kate McKinnon, what’s not to like? But I think I do get why some people don’t care for it. It feels like Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig start out the movie with fully developed characters and by the end they’re just… Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig. I think this comes from the modern comedy’s insistence on giving the actors space to ad-lib and come up with dialogue on the spot, which doesn’t really work in a movie with such downright cartoony characters.
I think the biggest problem people have with the movie, though, is that it lives in the shadow of the original. It borrows a lot of plot elements, a few ghosts, the logo, the theme, the firehouse, and most of the actors from the 1984 classic. It almost seems like they’re trying to make two different movies here. There’s Paul Feig, who just wants to make a fun supernatural comedy with four of the funniest people he knows, and there’s Sony, who want to make a note-for-note rehash of the original so they can have a new flagship franchise now that Marvel’s taken the wheel on Spider-Man. I think the best example of this is the climax, which mind you, I thought was spectacular. But it seems like you can pinpoint the exact moment where they said “Let’s take a break from comedy for a while so we can focus on how cool this fight scene is.” Yes, the original sort of does the same thing, but there are plenty of times throughout the film where they deftly strike a balance between humor and spectacle.
And that’s the thing. I’d argue this movie is actually funnier and scarier than Ghostbusters ’84. The original mostly relied on the absurdity and novelty of its premise and the general weirdness of its characters to create comedy, while this one relies on simply jokes, told on a consistent basis. Not all of them land, and I’m sure somewhere there’s an R-rated draft of the script that was substantially funnier but not profitable enough for Sony, but it’s still an immensely funny movie. But every step of the way, it second-guesses itself. I think moving forward, now that Sony has the money and the fans, they should stop trying to be like the original and move towards just letting great comedy filmmakers make great comedies. But as it is, this movie is immensely enjoyable, and I would recommend you see it. It won’t ruin your childhood.
Now, I’d like to take a step back for a moment and point out that Sony has a very interesting opportunity available to them now. As I said before, I believe this movie will develop a pretty strong fanbase, and definitely make more money than you could ever dream of. They’re going to make this a franchise, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t. It’s one of the few modern comedy franchises that’s extremely profitable. Now, back in 2014, I sang glowing praises for another Sony flagship comedy franchise film, 22 Jump Street. Around that time, I speculated that the next logical step forward for the franchise, as an ’80s action send-up, was to cross over with another Sony action comedy franchise, namely: Men In Black. Fast-forward six months, the historic Sony hack happens and it’s revealed that they were, in fact, planning to make a Jump Street/MIB crossover. Now, that crossover is still in production, under the name MIB 23. The film will serve to continue the Jump Street series and reboot the Men In Black series, even though the last Men In Black movie came out a scant four years ago. I think what Sony’s gonna do, or at least what they should do, is incorporate all these franchises into the world’s first comedy cinematic universe. If they play their cards right, they can have the only three blockbuster comedy franchises, and combine them all into a single megafranchise to take the money directly from your pockets. Not only is it ingenious, but it could potentially turn comedy as a genre into a big-league money-maker. We’ll see what happens.
Anyway, I give Ghostbusters an A-. If you have similar tastes as me, you should definitely see it.