Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

Ba da baaaa da ba da – GHOSTBUSTERS!

I didn’t think I was going to see this until it came out on blu-ray. My husband saw a lot of bad reviews and really wasn’t into it at all, and I’m not going to drag someone to a movie they don’t want to see. I’m especially not going to do that if it’s a movie I think I’ll really really like and them hating it would make me feel bad. But he was awesome and took me to see it last night anyway and he liked it too! Yays all around.

Lately whenever I think I’m too hyped for something, when I actually see or read it find it’s way better than I expect. Not sure if that means these things are just that amazing or if I’ve gotten to a point where over-hype makes me sort of convinced at the back of my mind that the thing won’t actually be any good so I’m always pleasantly surprised by the things I want to rock actually rocking. But whatever it is, I’m glad.

I loved this sooooo much. From the time the first preview started to the very end of the post-credits bit I was just grinning ear to ear (and occasionally tearing up because there was too much happy and it had to escape through other parts of my face I guess). Everything about it was just so much more and better than I expected.

There were parts that were not so good. I haven’t yet encountered a truly perfect movie. I have some concerns about the way Patty was treated, for example. And…no, okay, that’s actually my only problem, but it’s kind of a big one. And I know Leslie Jones seemed annoyed with people calling it racist, and I assume she’d know better than me so if she’s happy with her character I’m not going to criticize too much.

But I do think maybe just due to the timing or the way it was cut or something a lot got piled on her at once. There’s one scene in particular where a crowd of people drop her on the floor after happily helping another character crowd-surf. And then right after she gets up and springs back into action, Holtzmann jokes that she’s not doing as well as her teammates. Ew.

Just bad choices like that. Things that were probably funny one at a time but maybe they should have looked more carefully at the finished product and realized they weren’t really treating any other character so poorly. Erin gets slimed a lot and Abby just can’t get her Chinese food order right. That’s about the extent of the trials and insults for the three main white characters (apart from, you know, ghosts). It just seems pretty sketchy.

And Patty’s so great. I’d have to agree with what seems like the entire internet that Holtzmann stole the show, but I thought Patty was a close second. Really all four actresses were so perfect with the timing and the attitude and the EVERYTHING and I will say 100% the cast for this movie did their jobs and then some. Any problems I had with it can probably be blamed on a mix of writing and editing. So I hope they do better with that for the next movie. And I hope there are more movies. And a comic. And a cartoon. RADIO SHOW?!

Ghostbusters all the things.

One other thing I noticed right away was how much better this movie treated its male background characters than most movies do their female background characters…or heck, even female secondary characters. Of course Kevin was hilarious and wonderful, but even a step below that. There’s a tour guide at the start of the film and a Chinese food delivery guy (BENNY!) who shows up throughout. Both of them got amazing lines.

They don’t have many lines, but I feel like every line they had was funny and smart and made them seem like important characters even though they don’t really do anything. They don’t move the plot, but they’re crucial to setting the mood. Like if Benny’s not in the sequel it will just feel wrong, and you can’t say that about many characters that minor in other movies. And the fact that it was done so well here just makes it that much more frustrating that so many movies diminish the roles of their female secondary or background characters.

Two of the biggest criticisms I’d heard were that the jokes aren’t funny and the ghosts aren’t scary. The first one I just can’t agree at all. Obviously humor is relative and it’s entirely possible this movie was just right in the center of my funny zone, or even that I was more easily amused than I would have been otherwise because the rest of the movie made me so happy. But there was only one joke in the whole thing that didn’t make me laugh. (Dan Aykroyd cameo. And even that was fine, it wasn’t particularly not-funny, it just fell a little flat for me.)

And the scary ghosts? Well, first of all, I don’t really remember that being a major part of the originals, even as a kid. Are the original Ghostbusters ghosts scary? Huh. But as far as this movie…no, the ghosts themselves, as in the animated visual forms of the ghosts on screen, were mostly not scary. There’s one pretty effective jump scare and plenty of spooky with the parade ghosts in particular. But not outright scary, you will not feel like you wandered into Paranormal Activity (I assume that’s scary? I haven’t seen any of them.) when you watch this movie. I’m not convinced that’s a bad thing.

But there are parts of the movie that are legitimately scary. During the opening scene, I was questioning the judgment of all the parents bringing their kids to see this. It was right at the top of what I can handle before I actually start considering something a scary movie. But they did a good job of balancing scary and funny, with a heavy lean towards funny. And since it’s a comedy, that’s pretty much what I expected and wanted. “Realistic” ghosts would not have been a help to this movie, in my opinion.

Also, though it’s not actually related to the film in particular, I want to discuss previews. I don’t know how previews shown before films are chosen. Do all theaters showing the same film get the same previews? Are different previews featured at different times? I rarely watch a movie in theaters twice and even more rarely in different theaters, so I don’t have any way of knowing. But it does seem like previews are matched to the movie at least to some extent. And that does a lot to set the mood.

(Apparently, at least some of the trailers before a film are chosen by the theater and may even vary from screen to screen within the same theater. Interesting explanation on that here.)

My in-laws recently asked us to watch Star Trek: Beyond with them and while I didn’t have much interest in it I also didn’t expect to mind. But then every single preview was “white dude with a gun gets revenge.” Uggggghhhhh. So by the time the film itself started all I could see was white dudes. And how there were just SO. MANY. (5/8 major characters.) And how utterly unnecessary Scotty becomes once Jaylah’s in the film. And how the way he’s used in it actually prevents the film from passing the Bechdel test. (Jaylah and Uhura are standing right next to each other at one point but Scotty’s there too and keeps inserting himself into the situation talking-talking-talking so both female characters talk to him instead of each other even though all they’re telling him is to shut up and let Jaylah fix the thing and it makes me so angry. He didn’t need to be there!) And how there are an awful lot of guns being used by a group that insists it’s not military and has learned to solve all their problems peacefully. UGGGGGHHHH.

Contrast that with the previews I saw before Ghostbusters. Bridget Jones’s Baby, which I don’t even plan to see for quite awhile but my dad loves those films so I know them well and seeing it gave me all kinds of nostalgia. (I’m going to have rants about that movie, I know it, but I still think it will be nice enough and I look forward to watching it with my dad.) Then Moana with the music and the pig and the Dwayne Johnson and the everything. A movie about a terrible singer who still wants to sing more than anything and people love her for being bad, some boxing thing that I don’t remember at all but it was short, another white dude but this time saving people by landing a plane and no violence at all, another Da Vinci Code movie I almost certainly won’t watch but also don’t mind.

So they were sort of inoffensive and forgettable at worst, but the ones that were good were so good and girl-centric and got me so primed for just being happy. That’s important. MORE HAPPY MOVIES, PLEASE. I felt like whoever put those together understood that need and I was in the right place. And that’s a great feeling, even though I know it’s just marketing and I’m being treated like a product. That’s life today, the fact that they’ve marketed to me very well still makes me feel like I can expect the movie to be marketed at me and hit all my happy-notes too.

Did you see Ghostbusters? What did you think of it?

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2 thoughts on “Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

    1. I’ve been reading since I wrote this that the movie “didn’t do well” and there’s basically no hope for a sequel. I think haters don’t understand how much the people who like the movie *really like it*. Netflix series or fan-funded spin-off at the very least. Calling it. 😀 I’m so glad I live in the a world that has things like Kickstarter.

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