Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ghostbusters

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, your internet source for ectoplasm and ectoplasm accessories. I'm Dave-El and I ain't afraid of no goats. 

This past Saturday, the El family ventured forth from our Fortress of Ineptitude to go see Ghostbusters. I think we might be in a bit of a rut because that's what we did last Saturday. Last week, we saw the original Ghostbusters at Geeksboro Coffeehouse. This week, we saw the new version with female women of the opposite sex.  

There's been a lot of press about this new version of Ghostbusters, mostly relating to the negative push back from certain quarters regarding the recasting of the 4 principals with women instead of men. There was the usual hand wringing about political correctness gone wild and a feminist agenda infiltrating everything.  

Me, as the father of a daughter, I look forward to any opportunity to show women taking action in roles of power in movies and TV shows. And ultimately, what would drive the success or failure of the new Ghostbusters wouldn't be if the ghost busting pals were male or female. No, what matters is if the movie itself is any damn good. 

So... is it? 

Yes, it is. Mostly. 

First of all, let's cut to the chase. Our new Ghostbusters are an amazing combo of comic actresses who bring together a quartet of characters with an easy, comedic charm. And who exactly are our new investigators of the paranormal? 

Kristen Wiig is Dr. Erin Gilbert, a professor at Columbia University where her bid for respectability and tenure get undermined by her previous interest in hunting ghosts. Kristen may be the "normal" one but she is haunted by her own past experience with ghosts and as much as she tries to leave that in the past, it finds a way of catching up to her. 

Melissa McCarthy is Dr. Abby Yates who has not given up on her pursuit of ghosts or her quest for an appropriate ratio of wanton to soup in her Chinese take out. 

Kate McMinnon is Dr. Jillian Holtzmann, a gonzo engineer who can build almost anything you can imagine as long as you don't mind it being powered by a miniature nuclear reactor.  

Leslie Jones is Patty Tolan, the non-scientist of the group. Patty is an MTA worker with a detailed knowledge of New York City history. She also has a back hand that will full on slap a ghost right out of a body. Patty also provides the team their transportation, converted from a hearse. (Which may or may not have a body in the back.)  

The four quickly settle into a funny and comfortable 
camaraderie that makes the team someone you want to hang out with, even if they're facing spirits that spew copious amounts of slime. Erin and Abby are on the outs at the beginning of the movie, Erin foregoing Abby's quest for ghosts in favor of respectability. But when confronted with an actual ghost, Erin and Abby are back in sync once more.   

In addition to our four Ghostbusters, we also have Kevin as played by Chris Hemsworth. Kevin is adorkably handsome which is the only reason the ladies hire him (mostly it's for Erin) because Kevin has trouble with basic concepts like how the phone works and covering his eyes when he doesn't want to hear something.   

When the movie is focused on our principals and their interactions, the new Ghostbusters really shines. It falters a bit on the actual plot which, to be fair, the original Ghostbusters had some problems in that area too. 

Our antagonist is Rowan Worth, a scientist with a more than passing interest in the paranormal. Ostracized from human society, Rowan's gone coo-koo for Cocoa Puffs and is planting devices around the city to stir up ghosts in a bid to wipe out humanity. Rowan dies but his ghost stirs up more troubling, unleashing a phantasmic apocalypse on New York City. It all makes for some spectacular effects and awesome action sequences. 

But there is a disconnect between our heroes and the forces of darkness working against the city. I think this was a missed opportunity. Abby and Rowan should've been aware of each other as part of the community of believers in the paranormal. Also Rowan's isolation and his turn to evil is counterpointed by our protagonists working together but that's not really something is acknowledged except very briefly by Abby when she and the team confront Rowan for the first time under the Mercado Hotel. I think a bit more development of the dichotomy between Abby's team and Rowan's machinations would've added a bit more emotional heft to the proceedings. 

I'm also wondering if there are some scenes on the cutting room floor. Late in the film, Erin is on her own away from the rest of the team. As we established in the beginning that Erin has some concern with her reputations, I would imagine she would not react well to the Ghostbusters being labeled as frauds in the media. But there is nothing on screen to establish that sequence of events. She's just not part of the team for some reason. Also there's a bit where Kevin makes a big deal about wanting to be a Ghostbuster too. Where did that come from? I didn't see any scene to establish that Kevin even understood where he was working, let alone that he wanted to be part of it.  

I should point out that the new Ghostbusters is in a continuity separate from the 1984 original. Actors from the original film make appearances but in different roles that they originally played. Bill Murray gets the most face time as Martin Heiss, a professional debunker of the paranormal who actually challenges the Ghostbusters face to face about what they're up to. Dan Ackroyd, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver also have cameos and the late Harold Ramis is represented by a bust in his likeness.   

All in all, the new Ghostbusters is far from a perfect picture but does all right by the franchise and the women who have been tasked to take it forward. 

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Tomorrow is Wednesday which is when I do a comic book themed post. If that's your thing, come back tomorrow. There's something new and different every day on the blog thing so feel free to check in anytime. 

Until next time, remember to be good to one another. 



My TV Friend

"TV is my friend. It makers everything so... simple... somehow." Les Nessman, WKRP in Cincinnati    Hi there! Dave-El here and ...