Sunday, August 21, 2016

Ghostbusters

Directed by Paul Feig. Written by Katie Dippold, Paul Feig. Starring Melissa McCarthy (Abby Yates), Kristen Wiig (Erin Gilbert), Kate McKinnon (Jillian Holtzmann).

Bottom line: Ghostbusters was better than I expected from the trailers, not to suggest that it was particularly good, but it was better than I expected.
1/4

When a team of paranormal researchers are outed from their university, they go into business capturing ghosts. Through their activities, they come across a nefarious plot that threatens the world.

I expected Ghostbusters to be terrible. I think just about everybody did. For some (me included), the trailer suggested lame jokes and nostalgic references. Consider the official trailer (which, incidentally, is one of the most disliked YouTube videos of all time). It lacks a sense of fun and pacing. It begins with this slow piano cover of the “Who You Gonna Call” song and then switches over to like a pseudo-dupstep sound. The music is broken up by extended exposition or jokes and it really throws off the rhythm. Compare that to the “GHOSTBUSTERS FanCUT Teaser Trailer HD (RECUT)” by Bevan Bell. Bell’s trailer was exciting, fast paced, and sprinkled with jokes. Ghostbusters is such a pop-cultural image that we know enough already; we don’t need an introduction to the characters or the driving plot. The differences between the two trailers makes me wonder about movies trailers. I mean, I wonder if there are certain requirements for the official trailers. The official one is over two and a half minutes while the fan-cut is under a minute. I wonder if they had to contractually include certain characters in the trailer too.

In any case, the jarring pacing of the trailer is something that plagues this remake. There are a number of jokes that are funny but instead of making a joke and moving on to the next one, the camera lingers in silence, as if the awkward silence will provoke more laughter. It doesn’t. It just kills the moment. I feel like someone ought to make a fan-cut of the film, removing all of the pauses to see how it improves.

All of the characters are pleasant. They’re all pretty likable and they seem to work well together. Chris Hemsworth is the stupid but attractive secretary for the Ghostbusters. It’s a running gag in the movie of having the protagonists ogle him, though Wiig’s delivery seems forced. For a movie like this the draw is the chemistry between the cast, not the plot, so it’s pretty minimal. They gotta save New York and the world. Boom. Done. It’s sufficient to facilitate jokes. There is some character development in the sense that Wiig’s character learns to accept and be proud of her experiences with the paranormal.

Ghostbusters jumps aboard the nostalgia train. I feel like a broken record but Ghostbusters is making me say it again: a reference just for the sake of the reference is bad, lame, and will probably be unsuccessful. Just having an original cast member pop on camera isn’t going to make me enjoy the movie. In much the same way that having pretty graphics can’t fuel a movie, neither can nostalgia.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend Ghostbusters. The jokes that are funny don’t quite deliver because the pacing is off and the references to the original feel cheap. Instead, if you are looking for a spooky comedy, why not try something like Shaun of the Dead, Beetlejuice, Young Frankenstein, or Scary Movie? That’s a pretty good survey of different “spooky comedies” (that was my Google search to find the above options) depending on your taste in comedy. Without thinking about it too much, I might recommend them in that order too.