You’ve heard the controversy and hype, but what about the actual movie?
When I was kid I had all the Ghostbusters toys and watched the Real Ghostbusters religiously. My weekdays included forcing my parents to listen to real ghost stories on cassette and begging for weekend trips to historic haunting sites. For years as an adult I followed Dan Ackroyd’s every hint of a return to the franchise.
Eventually the prophecy was fulfilled and a new Ghostbusters film starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones was announced. I had hoped for a continuation with these actresses being the children or successors to the original four. Instead we found out that this film would be a reboot. Ghostbusters 2016 contains the same setup as the previous 1984 film where a group of fringe scientists begin a business combating ghosts in New York as the threat of the supernatural escalates.
Without getting into too much detail, there’s been a great deal of internet rage from people supporting or decrying this movie before the first trailer was even seen. Can you get past the hype? Is it possible to just watch the movie and see if it is good? For this I turned to the one person I know who is in the target audience for this movie and was completely unaware of any of the internet hype – my seven year old son.
The rating on this movie is PG-13 but, much like director Paul Feig’s previous films Bridesmaids and Spy, there is enough bathroom humor that is really at its peak of humor if you are below thirteen. My son has not seen Bridesmaids or Spy but he loves Goosebumps books and enjoyed the original Ghostbusters movies so I wasn’t too worried about him getting freaked out. Other parents should gauge taking their children based on the individual child of course.
Did he like it? Yes, my son loved the movie and laughed a ton. He loved seeing ghosts get blasted and people getting slimed. He thought the ghosts were scary but not too scary and loved seeing them get busted.
Did I like it? Yes, this film was a fun afternoon at the movies. My geeky nostalgia thrilled at the cameos from stars of the original film and Easter Eggs referencing the cartoon series and comic books. If you’ve enjoyed previous Paul Feig movies then you’ll enjoy this one. There is some very smart humor especially from Kate McKinnon who will be a revelation to anyone who has skipped out on her brilliant SNL sketches.
Here at Geek Taco we celebrate pop culture geekery but I think there’s an important kind of geek that often gets overlooked. The original Ghostbusters celebrated two specific kinds of geeks, the scientist and occultist. Egon and Ray were very much in the vein of scientific jargon and physics theory in a way that would make the movie almost an unofficial Star Trek prequel and Egon specifically seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of supernatural lore. While we do get the history geek in Leslie Jones’s character Patty, the real geekiness of this movie is the engineer and the maker.
Much of this engineering is driven by McKinnon’s character, Holtzman, but the process of inventing and iterating permeates the movie. Devices are played with, field tested, improved, and iterated upon throughout the whole movie. Odd concerns that come up in real world inventing come up and drive the humor. At one point Wiig’s uptight character Dr. Erin Gilbert has to put on the clunkiest most awkward version of a proton pack and asks why she has to do so. Holtzman replies, “You have the longest arms.” The maker in me laughed so hard I had to promise to explain to my son afterwards why my tinkering was almost always factoring in how short my arms are.
If the film has any shortcomings it is in the script. At various points it feels like a scene that was set up earlier has been cut from the final product. Perhaps this has to do with Feig’s directing style of relying on various bits of improv comedy from his talented cast. While this does lead to some really hilarious bits, like McCarthy and Wiig bantering over whether you can put a cat back in the bag, it leaves the script less tight and flowing than it otherwise could have been. My hope for a sequel, should we get one as Sony has promised, is that the script be tighted up ahead of time with input from the talented cast so that the finished product is a bit less shaggy. If it were not for the sheer talent and chemistry of the four leading comedians, and great side bits with Chris Hemsworth as the receptionist, I wonder if this movie script could have worked.
All of that being said, this Ghostbusters stands as a funny movie and good summer blockbuster spectacle. If you are looking for a film to watch this weekend, I recommend you give this one a call.