“Ghostbusters”: Best Film of the Year, Possibly, Let’s Assume


For Your Film Award Consideration. Like, all of them, because we have a dream.

Normally I wouldn’t review a film till after I’ve seen it, but I get the impression from some corners of the internet that cause-and-effect are now passé and prejudging is all the rage with the poorly parented kids these days. I’ve been watching the ongoing Ghostbusters debates for months from the sidelines, but the following tweet kind of broke me Monday evening:

I can’t figure out which shopping site he was browsing, but honestly, that’s how we’re playing armchair critic, guys? By shooting things down that make us frown without even trying them? With attitudes like that, I’m guessing none of those faux advance reviewers ever gave vegetables a chance, either.

Hi, geese. Call me gander. Let’s go ahead and review Ghostbusters like it’s the greatest thing in the galaxy, 100% sight unseen, three weeks before it opens. Free country! Free speech! Free boorishness! Free self-immolation!

You’ll note I’m sticking to MCC’s standard review format for movies seen in theaters even though this obviously isn’t a standard review. Keeping the foundation but building a different shack this time, as it were.

Short version for the unfamiliar: They’re Ghostbusters. They bust ghosts. They build their own super ghostbusting machines. No degrees needed, no experience necessary, no gender requirements on the entrance exam because there’s no entrance exam. Ghosts can be scary, gross, cheap, funny, gargantuan, or ready to pose on the front of a cereal box. Look, if the Ghostbusters are unfamiliar to you, ask your parents what’s up with that.

Hey, look, it’s that one actor!: Three SNL vets, the big movie star from Gilmore Girls, the guy who keeps getting upstaged in his own Marvel movies, check-ins from at least two cast members from the first two movies, and I have no idea who else because I haven’t looked at the IMDb entry yet. Or, as you may be aware, seen the movie yet. For kicks let’s just say this movie may or may not also feature some dudes from the Fast & the Furious series. I mean, I have no idea, but it couldn’t never happen.

Meaning or EXPLOSIONS? Lessons to be learned:

1. Sexism is bad.
2. Most ghosts are differently bad.
3. Prejudging is senseless.
4. New York City: still a cool place to set a movie.
5. Vitriol is not a valid hobby.
6. There IS no Number Six.
7. No movie should be worshiped like a false idol.
8. Ditto masculinity.
9. Don’t make Leslie Jones mad.
10. Or the rest of the cast, for that matter, because that’s crass neanderthal behavior.
11. Yes, some reboots are terrible, but not all reboots.

Nitpicking? I’m extremely finicky about 21st-century comedies and didn’t care for the first trailer, but the second one showed improvement. It’s worth noting that, while the original Ghostbusters remains one of my Top 10 all-time faves, when I saw Ghostbusters 2 at the theater at age 17, I found it a smarmy, self-congratulatory mess that replaced the original’s tension with the sort of foregone painful hijinks you’d see in a throwaway studio flick where the heroes are snotty teens and the villains are bitter, old, stupid adults. It was the first sequel in my life that sincerely broke my heart. The fact that Comedy Central reran it fifteen times a day for decades afterward didn’t help and someday I will get them for that.

So my Ghostbusters fandom was effectively shattered seventeen years ago — not by the cartoons, or comics, or ubiquitous cosplayers, or threats of repurposing. It was shattered by the four original Ghostbusters themselves and original director Ivan Reitman. In my mind the new Ghostbusters can’t possibly be worse than Ghostbusters 2. I don’t expect it’ll try to be.

So what’s to like? Funny scenes, nice people, flashy special effects, if all went according to plan under the supervision of Paul Feig, creator of Freaks and Geeks and Yahoo! Screen’s extremely overlooked Other Space, and director of fifteen episodes of The Office in its prime, including the one with Jan’s candle-company dinner party, the first “Michael Scott Paper Company” episode, the first one with Idris Elba, and Steve Carell’s sweet farewell. Good enough for me.

A-plus-plus-plus-plus-plus-plus. Eleventeen stars out of six. Two thumbs and five “WE’RE #1” giant foam fingers up. Two standing ovations, twelve “Good Job!” happy grading stickers, four Employee of the Month certificates, three Peabody Awards, a two-year supply of Rice-A-Roni (the San Francisco treat!), and one honorary “Joe Bob says check it out!” Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Ghostbusters “One of the year’s best films!” based on the fact that I just felt like typing those words in that order for this purpose. Since I haven’t had a man card to my name in ages, this is the kind of arbitrary whim that really impresses my wife.

I haven’t decided whether or not I’m seeing it in theaters, but I like to think my premature Extra-Fresh rating should help balance Angry Twitter’s imaginary scales. I posted my Plan B for scale-balancing a while back on Twitter, though as of this writing I’m still waiting on callbacks from everyone’s agents. Updates and Oscars as they occur.

How about those end credits? Let’s pretend there’s a scene after the end credits that’s just three hours of video testimonials from apoplectic dudes who were not previously devoting six hours out of every day over the last twenty years to contemplating Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters, and Ghostbusters, who then decided after the casting announcement that it was retroactively the linchpin of their upbringing and the crux of their spiritual worldview all this time and they just didn’t know it till these uppity dames stepped on their turf. So now they all woke and they won’t be silent. Anyone wanna hang around the theater for that, or hope it shows up as a separate disc in the DVD/Bluray combo pack?

3 responses

  1. I don’t like Kristen Wiig at all or Melissa McCarthy that much, so I won’t see it. I do think those who argue that this is a positive movie for feminism should remember that Poltergeist (original,at least!) had the head of the paranormal studies department as a female over two males…much more empowering than switcheroo casting 🙂

    (not saying you said that, but that’s the fight back I get when I say I don’t want to see it…that I’m not supporting female roles, etc. )


    • Yeah, neither Anne nor I buy the argument that we “have” to see it just because women and for absolutely no other reason. If we extend that logic, then the best way for feminism to win Hollywood is if we all go see every Melissa McCarthy movie ever. Uh, pass. I’m not saying never, but none of her trailers have ever given me the impression that I should endure an R-rated comedy for her.

      I laughed at Kristen Wiig a few times on SNL in the final years before we stopped habit-watching it, and thought she tackled a tough, serious role in The Skeleton Twins pretty well. I don’t watch enough of the current SNL to have a solid opinion on the other two.

      Agreed on “switcheroo” casting, and Poltergeist is a nice throwback example I’d forgotten! Ah, teenage memories.


    • So, I have seen it, and I have to say… I can take or leave Kristen Wiig in all her other roles, and I typically do not like Melissa McCarthy’s caricature-esque portrayal of ALL of her characters at all. But Erin and Abby are great roles. Wiig plays the straightwoman, and McCarthy is a little zany, but in a very real way. Both do a really good job. I’d say anyone who is holding off on the movie because they don’t like Wiig and McCarthy should give it a shot, at least when it’s on Netflix.

      As for the movie being feminist… that’s conjecture from the people mad that the originally male roles are now played by females. This movie isn’t about Lady Power or misandry or anything like that, it’s about women seeing a need and filling a role, that’s it. No major overarching feminist message, just a cast with female leads.

      It doesn’t matter to me if people choose to not see it or not like it, but it does make me angry when people hate on things sight unseen.

      Liked by 1 person

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