Last year there was a dazzling, beloved adaptation of Charles Schultz’s PEANUTS – it nailed the spirit & heart of those newspaper print creations. Almost magically so. Paul Feig was behind that adaptation. He’s brought us FREAKS & GEEKS, the American production of THE OFFICE on TV, then he directed BRIDESMAIDS, THE HEAT & SPY… all three films had trailers that sold the crudest humor, which made one sometimes think… This is going to be a bad movie, yet… the resulting films all turned out to be hilarious and inventive. His GHOSTBUSTERS is hilarious & inventive, but it shows a level of spectacle and sense of the macabre that tickled this Monster Kid in all the right ways.
I was 12 years old when I saw the original GHOSTBUSTERS. My generation saw the advent of HBO and CABLE television, but in those days. GHOSTBUSTERS play rotation after theaters was super heavy – and for those with the film on VHS, like me, that original film became a movie filled with characters that a young lad such as myself latched on to. Bill Murray flirting with Ripley? Bob McKenzie scoring with Ripley instead of Bill Murray? All one needed was to be possessed by a dog and your fondest dreams could come true, just ask Channing Tatum!
The year before GHOSTBUSTERS came out, my mom bought me a silver colored Walkman. That was the year of THRILLER just dominating – and Michael’s phenomenal album hardly ever left my Walkman… Then… GHOSTBUSTERS’ soundtrack hit. For me, having that music playing throughout 1984 & 1985… it became my soundtrack. I practiced the Venkman’s kick hop, my sense of humor and timing came from obsessively watching the movie over and over and over – it helped that my Baby Sis loved it, thinking how cool Sigourney Weaver was to have Bill Murray acting like Tex Avery’s wolf around her.
EVERYBODY loved GHOSTBUSTERS. If they didn’t – they were invited to my house to rectify the societal abuse their parents were inflicting upon them. GHOSTBUSTERS 2 came out the summer I graduated High School in 1989. That and BATMAN meant the world. Both disappointed me. Pure GHOSTBUSTERS love made me like the sequel, but I have always hated the bringing to life of the Statue of Liberty. It just didn’t work for me. I loved all the returning cast members as well as Peter MacNicol & the amazing Wilhelm Von Homburg’s VIGO, but the music didn’t hit on all cylinders, there seemed to be less energy from the characters – and the writing just wasn’t as sharp. That said, I’ve probably seen it around 50 times. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen GHOSTBUSTERS, it’s there with the tip top repeat viewing cinema of my life.
Monday night, I watched GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) again. I had told myself I wasn’t going to do that. But I just couldn’t stop myself. Plus… Really, I owed it to everyone reading this to watch it and have the utter perfection of that film fresh.
The original GHOSTBUSTERS is an unassailable work of cinema. As perfect as a film gets. GENIUS. But because GHOSTBUSTERS 2 exists, because for the past 20 years – I have been reporting with this site about every hint of Dan & Ivan & Harold trying to get the gang back together. Always with the note, Bill Murray isn’t interested. Then it became, only if he’s a ghost. And every time Aykroyd did a CRYSTAL SKULL VODKA promo at liquor stores around the country – we’d hear something hopeful. Kinda like Tom Arnold on TRUE LIES 2.
Then development and activity began on what became the reboot of GHOSTBUSTERS that I caught tonight.
I heard through the grapevine that GHOSTBUSTERS was playing Tuesday in town – and nothing could keep me out. I slept listening to the new soundtrack by Theodore Shapiro for this new film. Found it interesting. Definitely fun creepy music, way more action beats than I was expecting. Moments that evoked the original – but mainly it’s own thing and a sequence that made me think of THE OMEN’s Ave Satani… but not that. Not sure if I had ghost dreams, but when I woke – I was about the positive mental attitude… I’d be seeing a new GHOSTBUSTERS today.
I didn’t get invited to this screening, who knows… maybe Tom Rothman is still mad at me, but while I like Paul Feig, I’ve never been someone to applaud Rothman, but then… this wasn’t his baby, it was more Amy Pascal’s. But doesn’t matter, Rothman’s company now – so it doesn’t make me want to love anything from there, but at the same time, I’m that “Always look on the bright side of life” kinda guy – and the fact is, I love movies and never want them to suck, even if I think they will. I’ve told y’all about the thing I do with a movie I want to like… when the lights go on, I shut my eyes and whisper, “Don’t suck.”
So we got in, anyways. Sony decided to take this Summer Jewel – and show the recruited audience and critics the film in 2D. Even though I’m hearing astonishing things about the 3D for this movie, and in the end credits, the man in charge of the 3D is Ed Marsh – James Cameron’s not-so secret 3D weapons master! OH SHIT – MUST SEE THIS IN 3D! At least that’s how I feel after the 2D experience. Time for Imax!
Father Geek wore his Monster Party shirt, I wore my Buddha Buddha Buddha shirt with my original Blues Brothers promo item tie. I was wearing that in honor of Aykroyd.
First thing that hit the screen was an animated Ghostbusters logo – and as the words underneath started to form, the audience began to clap – but paused when it didn’t say GHOSTBUSTERS… It said… GHOST CORPS.
Now… I don’t know about you or a single other fucking soul out there. But to this Ghostbusters geek… There’s a promise to the production company, GHOST CORPS… We’ve talked about Reitman & Akyroyd’s production shingle that is set to bring us a hosts of ghosts in a series of GHOSTBUSTERS movies – all beginning with the one to follow this logo – and that thought… The thought utterly delights me.
This movie, contrary to what a lot of folks seem to think – doesn’t play as a remake of GHOSTBUSTERS to me. Oh sure, of course it is, but they’re all at once, taking things slower & faster than the original. Let me explain.
Structurally – the two films are very similar, but with different characters, periods in history, genders of primary characters – but also – we’re not really dealing with Dogs possessing people and opening dimensional portals for an ancient Sumerian with a mean Flat Top to come rule the world.
Oh a portal will open, but it’s very different. There’s no research about the structure of the building, things move faster, it isn’t like they’re doing this for a specific client. In fact, they’re so early in their adventures – they don’t seem at all concerned about profiteering. It’s more about… “SAVING THE DAY” – note that song isn’t here. Actually, that really isn’t it either.
I want you to think about what you actually know about our original GHOSTBUSTERS. Peter, Ray & Egon. They were all working together – but how did they find each other? No clue. However, how they acted was an effortless magical conveyance of belief that they have simply always been together. I never questioned it. Never really thought about it because who they were before never mattered. The most important thing was getting fired by the university at the moment of their greatest discovery – which famously set them upon a destined path to save the world. The original film is MYTHIC. It’s a film to play for ODIN.
This new GHOSTBUSTERS – is an entirely new thing. New story. The first film brought up parallel dimensions… This is one of them. I mean, Ray is here, but he doesn’t know he’s Ray – he thinks he’s a cabbie, but we, the audience knows – and I think Feig knows, but the characters onscreen don’t. Winston’s here, but he is now a different being. Same with Janine, Dana and Peter. They’re all different people here. I still love them. And, I think they love me too. I mean how could they not, we’ve been in a relationship for decades now. Watching the film as a die hard fan of the original – is like seeing EARTH-2 GHOSTBUSTERS.
EARTH-2 GHOSTBUSTERS… well, I don’t think the crisis in New York of the 80’s happened… There are things that cross-dimensions. Both worlds have STAY PUFT MARSHMALLOWS… with the same sailor for brand familiarity in either dimension. Because over here – there’s a Macy’s Parade balloon of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, but there are other famous balloons as well as made up ones, I think. Pretty sure I know my Macy’s balloons. Never missed one in conscious life.
Anyway, I could talk my Earth-2 theory all day long on this film. Or Andy Garcia’s Mayor and the Homeland Security folks seem to have a grasp on supernatural situations that have occurred before – and are aware of the cover up operations involved. IT could be possible that in this universe – the GHOSTBUSTERS after the second incident became so incredibly popular that the Government in gratitude gave them new identities and somehow covered up the original incident, by simply inventing the 24 hour news cycle which makes people forget all the cool shit that happens on Earth every day.
I mean, Peter Venkman getting a new identity as a Supernatural Bullshit Caller… I believe it, he knows real real from fake real. Ray becoming a Cabbie that sticks his neck out for nobody, but ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts? Winston getting to operate his own Funeral Parlor so he can keep an eye out on the dead. Dana… well, you’ll see. And then Janine happens to be working the desk at the hotel where the Wey Lines cross? AND – then you see that Egon got to teach Physics and to who.
Now – everything for that is there in the fucking movie. Sure, I’m the insane geek that sees it, cuz… well… Paul Feig and Tom Rothman can’t kill the Ghostbusters – if I’m ever gonna fucking be a Truther – it’ll be revealing the conspiracy to just give back to those heroes that saved this city the first time.
Think about the first film. When Ghosts start popping up, the mayor has spiritual advisors, they had to be sold upon the idea that something supernatural was even occurring. Here, the Mayor already knows – and the point person for investigation is VENKMAN?
I chose to see meaning in these cameos – sure – you could call it lazy writing – but look at what is being said, inferred and shown. As for what Paul Feig has gone on the record to say… Given that he is a comedian. Given that fandom has treated the man as one of the four signs of the apocalypse – and this cast – as no cast should ever be treated, I think the greatest joke of all – is ultimately he made a remake, that if deconstructed – could in fact be a leading clue to GHOST CORPS. “This sort of thing has happened before” – incidents cited. BELIEVE.
Ok – now that you realize this is a sequel, filled with undercover witness protection style original GHOSTBUSTERS… I say all this – cuz… This is the opening salvo of a new GHOSTBUSTERS franchise for Sony, they believe in it. But behind everything is crazy ol Reitman and Aykroyd – and Dan… He’s a government conspiracy, law enforcement respecting, ufo & paranormal loving man who’s vodka bottle even harnesses the power of the paranormal. This greater conspiracy I can only see, by reading every Dan Aykroyd interview and article I’ve been able to get my hands upon. I think, there could be something much more intricate here that multiple viewing will clarify. Well… let’s get out of the OBVIOUS TO ME SUBPLOT and get to our ladies and the story 90.
Here’s what we know…
Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) are childhood friends. Erin had a ghost story and Abby was the only one that believed her. Their interest in the strange and unusual naturally led them to the creepy realms of physics, while dipping their toes into the paranormal. Perhaps it was at this time that Egon cultivated their passion in the right directions. Maybe they took everything they learned and wrote that book. Something split them up at that point. I wonder if the Bust of Ramis outside Erin office had a name embossed in its base. Ramis is there.
Meanwhile, after Erin & Abby part ways, Abby meets Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). Holtzmann is a MAGIC character. She was constantly up to her own thing at every moment of this film. Not just that… scientifically speaking she’s magic like Tony fucking Stark. She flirts with existence. She pushes things past the comfort zone and that’s fucking awesome. I like to think she’s Egon and Janine’s kid, but have ZERO evidence to back that wish up. She could be Dana’s baby. And sure that baby might’ve been born OSCAR… but things change in our world all the time. Giggle.
Now the first time these three lovely ladies go out together for a bit of spectral investigating, it’s to investigates the goings ons at ALDRICH HOUSE – The opening scene of the film – unless you’re coming in pre-miserable, ought to grab you. It is a perfect reintroduction to this world. Touring a historical home with a horrible history. I loved every moment.
This could be comparable to the Library Ghost in the original, except the situation is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT – there is no, GET HER…. Instead, these three. What they’re seeing… recording on their cameras is a deeply transformational moment that they’re entranced by the beauty of. Erin doesn’t have to be goaded by anyone, she’s eager to attempt to communicate. To open up a line of dialogue. That is a fundamental difference in tone between these two films. Between a group of boys going after ghosts and a group of girls. There’s a difference to the energy. Most women I know that love the paranormal (I’m even married to one) – have an inquisitive innocence when it comes to ghosts, whereas I fall flatly into the I BELIEVE AND FUCK THAT. I’ll read, but I’ve seen paranormal investigations go terribly astray from birth in cinema, literature and tales told to me around campfires. I got my wife a ghost hunting equipment case filled with gear and the only stipulation I gave her was, not in “OUR” house. Investigate anywhere ya want, if there’s something at home, I don’t wanna know. At the same time, I’d totally push a friend at a ghost and say GET HER!
Now, did I know that I’d love to see a more feminine Ghostbusters movie? Not at all. Not one bit. I came to this film respecting the cast and director and that the original creative team and actors were all being involved and that this film was supposed to be the gateway to more films beyond this cast and varying in tones.
I love that direction – just had to say that -- Around this time, we get to meet Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin. Now men. Let’s all stay spatially divided and beat our chests and look in the mirror and assure ourselves that… we’re not Kevin. We’re not. We don’t look like Chris Hemsworth. Let’s be honest, you don’t. Now we might wish we did. At the same time, can we all acknowledge that there are in fact clueless men? Obviously, not you. Perish the thought. You’re Prince Charming but more butch. I love, TYPES of people. CHARACTERS. The myriad sort of folks that pepper our existence. KEVIN is extraordinarily vain. He’s got Adonis-syndrome if anyone ever has. Doing useful office style things, aren’t beyond his capacity to learn, from the beginning of the film through all the end credit scenes, you’ll see him evolve as a character, or two. Shortly after Kevin joins the scene, we are introduced to one of my fave characters in the film.
Leslie Jones’ PATTY TOLAN. Yes, she’s not a scientist. But she’s a New York City historian that knows just about everything about the city, various buildings and her Uncle Bill… FUCK YEAH BABY! Of all the cameos in the entire film, by far, the largest and most enthusiastic applause was for Ernie Hudson Jr. Patty has gotten in over her head here. But she loves it. More than that – this group of women come together over the course of this experience. They have outings, but in this movie – these 4 ladies and the Kevin. They’re still working the kinks out of the tech, figuring out what it is they’re doing. They don’t have Bill Murray pushing the GREED.
In a manner of speaking, they only… technically… catch one ghost, and it’s humane Catch & Release fishing if you want the truth. They’re more pure to the science. To the possibilities that they’re discovering and what it means. That’s a different vibe. That was kinda what Ray and Egon were talking about – or Ray and Winston. But here – it’s a totally different energy. It’s only towards the bitter end that we get forward thinking technology that could bring them to a profiteering status. Also…
I gotta bring up Holtzmann again. I know I said she’s magic, but she’s got a bit of the demon in her. Egon’s tech was all about capturing and humanely storing the souls of the departed in a non-wandering and troublesome state. Holtzmann invents tech to mulch their everlasting souls FARGO WITH PHYSICS style. I think I finally have in my head what Holtzmann reminds me of… she’s exactly like both sides of a Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons. She’s the inventor and a bit of a devil. Putting together astonishing tech… really cool stuff. But it all has an attitude.
That said, by the end of the film – as we’re going through what we’ll all call the Times Square sequence… The wanton destruction of immortal souls – in torment or not… just got to me a bit. It was like Peckinpah GHOSTBUSTERS but with ectoplasm. Where I became sympathetic to some of the ghosts. But that is how I feel.
I don’t know about you, but a lot of my conversations about GHOSTBUSTERS always headed into the metaphysical realms of ‘Survival’ of the Death Transition from the existing life we know. And, in the original GHOSTBUSTERS – I thought about what “Storage Life” would be. Most haunting spirits that we have heard about seem to deal with unfinished business or trauma that the soul is stuck in a cycle with. But if you pluck a spirit from its private hell and put it in some atomic hell, what is that existence like?
There is some slight POLTERGEIST – going to the other side style stuff here, but to be honest it did feel ever so slightly BIG HERO 6 or PACIFIC RIMy-ish Looked cool – and like I said, knowing Ed W Marsh was in charge of the 3D, that guarantees WOW with a film this visually cool looking in 2D.
I know I’m rambling about the film, I’m well over 3000 words now, but I haven’t even started to go into the ghosts. They’re GORE-GEOUS. I love how pretty this film is. The first film had a wonderful mix of really physical looking things, as well as the more spectral forms. That zombie cab driver – I’ll just say, nothing touches that. There are a couple of very different looking things here from the Spectral forms and the two beautiful women next to me blurted out, “OH HELL NO” when one such form goes after Patty in the film.
I haven’t discussed the HUMOR of the film, it’s dead on. I was laughing a lot in the film. When I wasn’t laughing, I had a goofy grin. I love this universe. Whether or not by conspiracy theory above checks out – or if it’s just a Carmel Corn infused fever dream… you’ll have to say. But there’s a whole lot of funny here. Zach Woods, Ed Begley Jr, Charles Dance, Karan Soni, Ozzy Osbourne, Neil Casey, Andy Garcia, Cecily Strong, Al Roker… So many fun moments with all of them, in addition to the whole cast.
Lastly… Stay all the way through till the screen goes black after and the lights come up. There fun scenes and cool visuals throughout, but there’s a fun scene at the very end. Bringing up something geeky fun. So maybe don’t drink too much, it’s hard, I know, it is a hilarious comedy, the laughing tightens the abs and dries the mouth, but trust me – stay all the way through.
I have to admit, as I watched the film – I had a real good time. The film has its own musical moments and they work. The new score serves the story – but nobody is quite Elmer Bernstein. I love all the different ghosts, I need to check who the Electrocuted Ghost was, I think that’s that one guy from FREAKS & GEEKS, I checked DAVE ALLEN – it is!!! LOL awesome.
I spilled a whole lot of spoilers in here, but I’ve never even talked about the main bad guy. That’s very fun. There’s stuff that reminded me of the animated series – beyond Kate McKinnon having cartoon Egon’s hair – which is like the most amazing hair ever. If what Sony has in store for us was hinted at with Andy Garcia and the Homeland Security folks played by Matt Walsh (awesome) and Michael K Williams. Those characters held… mystery for me. It’s like they’ve been dealing with supernatural terrorism before. This 21st Century GHOSTBUSTERS rabbit hole is fun to dive down. C’mon, the water’s fine!
Keep it cool, lol