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Holes in the Sky… and the plot (a very late Ghostbusters review)

When Ghostbusters(2016) came out, I actually wanted to go see it and review it, but I happened to be busy that week and it bombed so hard that it was basically gone the next week, so I never got around to it. However yesterday I made a comment comparing the reviews of it to my fears about the reviews on the new  Wonder Woman movie (more on this in a bit) and a few people told me they really liked it and it was really good. My friend Brian, in particular, said “you should totally watch it and write a review like immediately!” Turns out it’s on Starz right now, and I was spending last night working on my comic strip anyway. I don’t usually do movie reviews of non-new releases. Or at least I haven’t yet. But it was Brian’s birthday yesterday… so you know what… Happy Birthday, Brian… here’s your review.

So uh…. SPOILERS… I guess… not really…  (I’ll get to this too).

One of my biggest problems with Ghostbusters when it came out was the lack of fair reviews. No one seemed to care about the movie. They cared about feminism. Both good and bad. What I mean is most of the chatter I saw about it came in two types: 1) “This is stupid. This is the worst movie ever. Why can’t chicks stick to their own movies. Why can’t they just stick to their own crap chick flicks and stay away from dude stuff! This is the worst movie ever!” or 2) “This is an important movie for women! We need more roles for strong women actors! If you hate this you hate women! Best movie ever!” What I didn’t see much of was the one thing I really wanted to see… “was this a good MOVIE?”

So I watched it. And the answer is… it’s not. It’s also not a bad movie. It doesn’t really deserve praise or derision. It falls pretty much exactly in the realm of what is quickly becoming one of my favorite ratings, particularly for tentpole franchise films “well, yes that was a movie.” Which is to say that it in all ways technically fulfilled the qualifications of motion picture cinema and while doing so did not actively annoy me for the 116 minutes that it was on screen. I was mildly entertained because I’m distracted by shiny colors and sparkly moving objects like a 6 month old. But I can’t say much more about it than that.

But it isn’t BAD. I have to stress that. It’s fine.

I was talking to a few people about it before I watched it and they said they liked it better than the original Ghostbusters, an they thought it would age better. I didn’t and I don’t. But not by much. To be fair though, I don’t love the original Ghostbusters. I’d give it maybe 2.75 out of 5 stars. It’s ok… and for it’s time it’s really innovative. And really Bill Murray in his prime drives that movie. It’s not his best performance, but he really makes it what it is. He turned a mediocre action comedy (this ain’t Caddyshack, folks) into something that could become a cult classic. That makes it fun. But as a movie. It’s really just a bit over mediocre. I might have maybe given it three stars if I were actually reviewing it in 1984, but it hasn’t aged well. Most of prestige of that film is wrapped up in it’s legend… not in what actually happens on screen. And that’s fine. Lot of movies that are far worse are very fun. Rocky Horror Picture Show is a shitty shitty shitty movie… that’s kind of the point.

No one in the new version has quite the charm of 1984 Bill Murray… and that includes 2017 Bill Murray. They’re not awful or anything like that. But the four principle leads are kind of typecast. Kate McKinnon probably does the best, but that’s because she hadn’t had an opportunity to really shine in a movie before this. And much like I said about her role in Office Christmas Party, she’s basically just one of her SNL characters. At least she goes for it though. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy don’t. They’re scaled down versions of characters that I’ve seen them play before… and better. And Leslie Jones is playing Paul Feig‘s idea of Leslie Jones. It’s basically the same character she plays on SNL but toned down by a white man to be less scary (seriously, I felt like her basic screen direction was “can you black it up!!! but you know, don’t black it up too much? Maybe a mid to late era Eddie Murphy and really tone down the Richard Pryor. Thanks!”). None of them are bad. They’re…. fine…

An interesting problem with the movie is that I’m not sure “why” it exists. Ok. I know why it got made. But I don’t know why it exists. Probably the thing I found most interesting about it is the metatextual self-referentialness of it. There’s several points where it basically comments directly on the cultural context in which it exists. That is to say, that in a lot of ways, it is a movie about female Ghostbusters that tries to make the argument that female Ghostbusters should be allowed to exist despite what the critics of the idea are saying. In other words, it comments directly on the controversy surrounding it existing in the first place…  a controversy that only exists because the movie was being made. These are the points in which I was most invested in the movie. There aren’t enough of them. There are other points when the movie attempts to make a feminist statement about the culture in general… they were “fine” but a little too on the nose. Again, I can’t really complain about any of them.. It’s just that I’ve literally seen every single member of the cast (as well as Feig as a writer) do a much better job of making that statement in far better movies.

Really though, the reason it got made was because the world needs franchises. This is a simple truth that I touched on in my Logan review. Franchises make non-franchise movies possible. But in that respect, this movie was a failure. It holds the problem of many recent Hollywood reboots. They’re pointless. It’s only there to make money off of something that people already love. I’m a huge fan of the 1941 film The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart. What most people don’t know is that that isn’t the original film. It’s a remake. I don’t have a problem with remakes. It was remade because the original 1931 version, with Ricardo Cortez, kinda sucks. So it was remade as though the original had never existed.

See, I was never the guy who was against this movie because women can’t be Ghostbusters. I was against this movie because I didn’t understand why we needed a new Ghostbusters movie AT ALL. The original Ghostbusters is not that good. It was never that popular. The CARTOON was.. and it has built a loyal fanbase over the years that sort of associate it with the movie. But the movie was just kind of ok. It was notable for being a two franchise film that did alright in an era where franchises weren’t as much of a thing as they are now. When this movie was first pitched, my friend Link once said to me “its great because kids should have their own version of this thing that I loved when I was a kid.” Except that’s silly. Kids have their own things now. Kids in the 21st century don’t need to love Ghostbusters. If they do, great. But they don’t need it. They have Hunger Games and Frozen. Trying to force feed them Ghostbusters makes as much sense as trying to force us kids from the 80s to love Bedknobs and Broomsticks or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. So as producers Hollywood needed to ask itself “why are we making this movie?” Because as far as I can tell, the entire pitch for it was “wouldn’t it be cool if we did Ghostbusters but all the characters were women?” And the answer was no… not really…

This film, however, heavily relies on nostalgia in order to try to make it work. Feig made the decision to make a reboot rather than a sequel. But unlike Maltese Falcon, he wanted to have it both ways. There are constant callbacks to the original film. Murray is a distraction from the film. He does provide one small plot point, but it would have been better served by an unrelated actor. He has way too much screentime for the very small amount of relevance he has to the movie. He serves no other purpose other than to say “Look kids, it’s Bill Murray. You know… from the other Ghostbusters? That movie? From the 80s? Bill Murray kids!!! Because this is Ghostbusters!” Dan Akroyd, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver make similar forced cameos that add little to the film other than to remind people of the other movie. Of course the problem is most of the fans of the other movie didn’t want the reboot. Because “… and all the characters are women is not a movie pitch.” It is not a storyline. It’s a single plot detail and that’s not enough to make a truly compelling movie.

And that’s the thing. If this had more been a movie about feminism and women in a “men’s” job I might have been more interested in it. Why not remake Backdraft? Because geeks don’t care enough about Backdraft as a franchise property. Why not make an original movie about four women scientists trying to save the city from… I dunno… mole people or something? Because then you wouldn’t be able to trade on the Ghostbusters name. And that’s sort of the problem. There’s no real story here. It’s not really a culturally relevant story about feminism. It’s not really any story at all. At the end of the day this had to be Ghostbusters first, a franchise second, sprinkle a social message on third, and if we have any room left for plot I guess you can do that… oh we don’t? Well, don’t worry about it… just have them fight a giant hole in the sky. Kids love that, right?

Seriously… here’s picture of a climatic giant hole in the sky. Is it from Ghostbusters? You don’t know, right? No one does!

When I look at a movie that’s a rebooted franchise, I feel like I have to ask myself “would I care about this movie if this were the first one I saw?” This came up during Rogue One (though not technically a reboot). In that case, I did; other than the last 15 minutes which everyone but me loved, I was invested enough in that story. In this case with Ghostbusters, the answer is not really. I cared about them enough to get through the entire movie, but they won’t stick with me afterwards… at least not for anything in the movie. I have to ask myself, if this film had been a completely unrelated product called “Molepeople Killers” with the exact same plot, would I recommend it to people? And … not really. I’d probably say something like “you know, if you’re flipping through channels and it happens to be on, it’s worth a watch… but if you really want to see McCarthy and Wiig shine in a movie about strong female characters you should really go buy Bridesmaids!”

The movie didn’t HAVE to be about feminism, but I wanted it to be. I think Feig even wanted it to be. And it kind of is, but it’s kind of lost in all the franchise nonsense substituting for compelling story and plot. A lot of things are kind of lost in this movie. It didn’t HAVE to feminism, but it SHOULD have been something. See, one of the things that makes a story into a classic is how well it examines it’s cultural moment, even if it does it through allegory. As a scholar I can look at the classic films of an era and see what was going on. The 1940s were all about anxiety over the war. The 50s were about anxiety over the bomb. The 60s were about civil rights. The 70s were about sexual rights. The 80s were about anxiety over the fall out from the previous three decades… you get the idea. Forty years from now, when scholars like me look back at the biggest films of the 2010s, they’re going to say “Holy shit, people in the 21st century were seriously afraid of holes in the sky. It seems like that was a serious issue!!!” And this was not the best movie about fighting a hole in the sky. It wasn’t even the best movie about fighting a hole in the sky in 2016. It wasn’t the worst hole in the sky movie either… it was fine.

★★½☆☆ (2.5 out of 5 stars).

44 comments for “Holes in the Sky… and the plot (a very late Ghostbusters review)

  1. avatar
    March 16, 2017 at 11:56 am

    I still really liked it a lot, from a comedy aspect (I don’t watch SNL so I can’t really judge anyone on past comedic performances), story wise it was very weak but so are all the original Ghostbusters. I think calling it fine or adequate is a perfect way to summarize it.

    • avatar
      March 16, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      Thanks. And I’m not saying its not likable. I always try to make my reviews not judgemental. You like what you like, I love a lot of really shitty movies.

      But I agree… the original Ghostbusters aren’t really GOOD. enjoyable is something different entirely.

    • avatar
      March 16, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      My deep dark secret is that I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the 2nd Ghostbusters WAAAAAAAAAAAAY more than the original movie, and that’s honestly only because of the cartoons.

  2. avatar
    March 16, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    I can’t say we watched completely different movies. I can say we watched the same movie and had slightly different feelings about it.

    I also can’t say I agree that the Ghostbuster cartoon is what drove the popularity of the franchise and kept it alive though. I think maybe that’s a stretch – or, in the very least, trying to tie it into the Transformers and TMNT realms. I also think that’s taking an awful lot of credit away from Aykroyd, Ramis, Murray and Hudson – the main drivers of the original.

    Now, I’m also not saying the original is as great as everyone wants to make it out to be either but it WAS something new and original back in 1984 and a large part of its success (and nostalgia) is due to Akroyd and Ramis’ script. Heck… re-watch Stripes again and see if it’s this knee-buckling laugh riot everyone remembers it being. It’s not. It has a lot of great, funny and entertaining moments but I wouldn’t call Stripes a knee-buckling, laugh out loud comedy either.

    Those were the only bits of your review I found myself disagreeing with. Other than that, I didn’t hate it. I didn’t think it was bad but I also didn’t think it was better – or worse – than the original was either. I just looked at it as an entertaining new take on Ghostbusters. In the end – at least for me – that’s what movies are supposed to be about.

    That’s also why I am trying very hard to ignore all the “bad publicity” Iron Fist is getting based on only the first six episodes.

    For me, I see very similar things happening between the 2016 Ghostbusters and Iron Fist. It’s like a certain amount of critics have joined some kind of club and have decided since THEY don’t like something, they are going to do everything in their power to try and convince everyone else why they should hate it too simply because the leads are all female or the male lead is a white guy instead of an asian dude.

    • avatar
      March 16, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      Let me clarify on the cartoon. I’m not trying to take away from the performance of Murray et al. I’m saying that the cartoon is what helped to build the legend of ghostbusters and turn it from a forgettable popcorn movie into a cultural phenomenon. They even admit that the cartoon and merch was pretty much how they got the second movie.

      So Stripes and Caddyshack are totally better movies than Ghostbusters. Caddyshack even had a sequel (that SUCKS!!!). But Ghostbusters became what it became because it was able to infect the zeitgeist by adding all the media together. You can be a fan of Caddyshack and ignore Caddyshack II…. pretty much everyone does. It’s impossible to pretend that Real Ghostbusters and GB1 and GB2 don’t belong together… even if you don’t like them all.

      I have lots of thoughts on the Iron Fist controversy. I agree with some of that…. but I probably have more complex thoughts about it beyond (I’m sure you do too).

      I haven’t decided if I am going to write about it or not yet. I’m holding off until after I watch it no matter what.

  3. avatar
    March 16, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    I think you’re pretty spot on with all of this. The one thing that really did shine for me, though, was McKinnon’s character. I’m out of the pop culture loop right now, but I have rarely seen female characters with so much non-sexual (or at least traditional femme sexual) charisma. And so little emotional baggage. In that way, it hit its feminist goal really well.

    • avatar
      March 16, 2017 at 4:18 pm

      McKinnon is a good actress. And I think she did a good job with what she was given to work with. I mean, she took a mediocre role and hit it out of the ark. I hope she gets something that’s actually GOOD one day.

  4. avatar
    March 16, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    I think you’re pretty on the mark here too. I enjoyed the movie, it was fun, but I’m sure it was largely because I’m a huge fan of the original movie (and the Real Ghostbusters toon), and it definitely wasn’t better than that. I did love that they had an awesome queer character and that they turned the dumb blonde trope around to show how ridiculous it is. Hemsworth was pretty great.

    • avatar
      March 16, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      I actually don’t think it was really much WORSE than the original. I slightly prefer the other one… I think… I mean, I’ve seen the other one more. But it’s close 2.5 vs. 2.75. And like I said, I thought it was way better than GB2.

      And i talked about McKinnon’s character on Erin’s comment above. I thought she was good. I don’t think she was as phenomenal as people are making her out to be. Same with Hemsworth. But they were good for what they were.

  5. avatar
    March 16, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    While I liked the original more than you (3 1/2 stars), your take on the new one isn’t far from mine. I thought the worst offense was “dialing down” the big bad from being a scary end of world scenario to being rather silly.
    Geek note: Maltese Falcon is the second remake, “Satan Met a Lady” was in between. I once watched all 3 in a theater, kinda jarring to hear the same dialog popping up, flick after flick.

    • avatar
      March 16, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      Yeah, I’ve seen Satan Met a Lady too…. I didn’t think it was relevant to my point but I did actually wonder if anyone knew enough to know that it existed.

      I still maintain exactly the same point about it. Just worst because there were two bad versions. 🙂

    • avatar
      March 17, 2017 at 1:25 am

      My main note is just that the really good one was the second remake, so it makes it hard for me to hate on the concept of remakes (and the Battlestar remake was infinitely better than the original)

  6. avatar
    March 16, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    I’m actually surprised that as someone with a writing degree from CMU, you didn’t appreciate the tightness of the writing and editing of the first Ghostbusters. I’ve seen it around 30-40 times so I’ve had a lot more viewing to appreciate it in, but seriously, my favorite aspect of the original movie (beyond some of the lines, obviously) is just how tight it is. There’s almost no wasted space (there are basically maybe 2 things I can think of that I might have edited out). Every line uttered, every scene is there for a reason — either a joke, or setting up another joke, or setting up the entire plot.

    I’ve only watched the new movie once so I can’t say, but my guess is that it’s not nearly as tight. That said, I went into it wanting to feel critical, but came out like “that was hilarious!” Honestly, some of the most understated funny lines of the first Ghostbusters take several views to appreciate in the first place, but that’s what I loved about the first movie — could keep watching it over and over and seeing new things I hadn’t noticed before. So I really would need to see the new one again, I think, before I can even start to judge.

    On the editing, there was a movie called Empire Records that came out sometime in the mid-90’s, and I don’t think it got very good reviews at all, but from a creative writing standpoint, that movie served to show what I thought was the most important first lesson of writing a short story: Everything Happens on Rex Manning Day, aka Get Rid of Your 4 Useless Pages of Exposition Before the Story Starts, Noob.

    • avatar
      March 16, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      I don’t know that I agree that GB1 is that tight… but it’s certainly not awful. I have very specific things that i don’t love about the plot construction… but they’re nitpicky. And I certainly don’t think it’s BADLY written. Just not terribly interesting or complex.

      And that’s kind of a big part of the thing. It’s a finely written screenplay. Pretty simple and formulaic three act structure. It’s by the numbers. This doesn’t always make for the best story and certainly doesn’t make the best movie. Flaws can be forgiven if they add the right character to the whole.

      See, I didn’t find the new one “hilarious.” It was funny enough. But I don’t think it has the same connection with the cultural zeitgeist to matter in 5 more years much less 33.

      I haven’t seen Empire Records in a long time… I should watch it again

  7. avatar
    March 16, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    I blame the ozone layer hysteria for the “hole in the sky as monster” phenomenon.

    • avatar
      March 16, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      Hmm…. you know that’s actually not a bad idea…. there’s totally a lit paper in there actually… I don’t have time to do it… but there’s totally something there.

      Sarah Hancock! You should write this… you know… in all the free time that you also don’t have.

  8. avatar
    March 16, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    I feel exactly the same. I wanted to like it so much more than I did, but it was trite, slick, and overwritten. The cameos were pointless. I would like here to be more to recommend a movie with ladies in it other than “it has ladies in it”.

    • avatar
      March 16, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      at least Weaver and Hudson’s cameos were at the end and the movie was over. Potts’s cameo was organic and fine.

      Murray and to a lesser extent Akroyd brought the movie to a halt.

    • avatar
      March 17, 2017 at 3:57 pm

      The Heat! One of my favorite movies starring women of all time. Although the criticism of it from Every Frame a Painting is spot-on.

    • avatar
      March 17, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      I need t watch the Heat. I keep meaning to…. I just never got around to it….

      It’s really hard to see every movie when you’re the guy who really does try to watch EVERY movie.

  9. avatar
    March 16, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Spot on. I was actively annoyed by the lame cameos, could have been so much better.

    • avatar
      March 16, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      it was just weird. Like I get that they didn’t want to tie into the old universe with a sequel. I get why. But from the second they said that, they gained the ire of fans who were like “No, we hate change! ghostbusters are boys! girls are dumb!” And sure… those fans are assholes… but who were the cameos for then? Because the people were on board weren’t going to care.

      And like Murray shows up twice. And accomplishes nothing either time… except you know “hey, look… this guy thinks ghosts are a scam… but he was in the old ghostbusters. See… it’s funny!!! see!!! See!!! SEE!!!!”

    • avatar
      March 17, 2017 at 4:34 am

      I actually found it amusing that Murray basically played the Walter Peck role this time around. It was such an obvious connection for me, that I didn’t need any other grounding for the role. However, I acknowledge that anyone without that background would be unimpressed.

    • avatar
      March 17, 2017 at 4:43 am

      Yes. He exactly played the Walter peck role. Which is the point. It’s not a standalone movie. You shouldn’t need to know that.

    • avatar
      March 17, 2017 at 5:07 am

      I’m a little fuzzy, at this point. Did he actually play the role, or just a similar character?
      To my mind, the important part of the Peck role is that he actively sets off the hole in the sky. I don’t remember Murray having a similar “push the big red button” moment, which may be part of why he seems so pointless other than as a reference to the original.

    • avatar
      March 17, 2017 at 5:08 am

      It was super meta, Murray was playing a parody of Paul Feig, the director of the film.

    • avatar
      March 17, 2017 at 5:19 am

      Is this ignoring the part where Heiss goads Erin until she releases the ghost that throws him out the window?

    • avatar
      March 17, 2017 at 9:09 pm

      Kathleen: yes. That’s what he did. And I was counting it. But it was an artificial moment. It was vaguely based on the Peck role in concept but unearned in this film. It makes little sense without seeing the previous film and actually kinda makes Erin look like a complete dumbass.

      As to Adam’s point. That level of metatextual knowledge being required is even worse that assuming an awareness of previous films. Compare to Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers series. He’s a parody of Lorne Michaels. But an awareness of that is completely unnecessary for full understanding of the character or films.

  10. avatar
    March 17, 2017 at 4:03 am

    There was a discussion in a film group recently about really bad editing, and I brought up Ghostbusters 2016 as the worst of last year. For instance, scenes just randomly end mid-conversation, then it will cut to a new location where something was very obviously removed from the film. Worst of all, it was like they couldn’t decide whether to edit it for comedy or action, and so it has a very inconsistent tone throughout the movie.

    There are parts I liked in there, and overall I mostly enjoyed it, but damn was it a hot mess as well.

    • avatar
      March 17, 2017 at 9:01 pm

      One thing that I couldn’t really fit in The review was that I really enjoyed the obligatory action sequence. While it certainly didn’t feel real, it was a visually engaging, funky choreographed action sequence. But as much as I was entertained by that it doesn’t make it a “good movie” per se.

      Basically there were many moments that I enjoyed. Any that I didn’t. And as a whole they were just kind of linked together in a way that I can’t say is “must see”. Suicide Squad also did this… but it was just slightly more enjoyably linked which put it over the edge to where it is JUST BARELY recommendable for me.

  11. avatar
    March 17, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    I liked it a whole bunch.

    But then again, how often do I get to see myself strongly represented by main character(s)?

    • avatar
      March 17, 2017 at 9:04 pm

      Which one?

      That’s maybe an issue — with no context I’m not sure which character you’re even talking about. My assumption is mckinnon, but that’s more because of the reviews she’s gotten OUTSIDE of the film than the actual context of the film itself.

    • avatar
      March 18, 2017 at 7:48 am

      I’m probably some combination of Erin and Abby with a dash of Holtzman.

  12. avatar
    March 17, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    I just wanted to say that for the record, when I was a kid in the early 80s I loved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Still do.

    • avatar
      March 17, 2017 at 9:05 pm

      I know I liked it as a kid. But I’ve not watched it at least 30 years. Maybe more.

    • avatar
      March 17, 2017 at 9:15 pm

      I saw it once as a kid and played it for weeks afterwards. But because it was just one of those movies we got to see in a cheap weekly kids matinee, I didn’t have another opportunity to see it. So once I had a kid, I got it on Blu-Ray. It’s lovely, still. Sweet and silly and full of the feelings of childhood and amazement. But I had forgotten how weird it gets. The first half of the movie is a little improbably, but basically realistic. But then the kids ask for a story and an adventure starts happening to them without quite defining whether or not it’s real. It’s quite like a dream or a meandering bedtime story, but it has its moments.

      In the end, I was really glad I bought it. My kid quite liked it other than finding the part in the second half with the child-catcher who is trying to trap the children scary. I don’t think that it will ever really be regarded as a classic in quite the same way that Mary Poppins is (to which it is clearly intended as a form of successor, having Dick Van Dyke and wanting to have Julie Andrews but being unable to secure her and including song and dance numbers in much the same way), but I still love it.

  13. avatar
    March 17, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    I didn’t read the whole thing. I will, but (as Johnson said, time is an old bald cheater–or something like that) I will. My initial comments are a.) I really enjoyed the movie, would probably give it a 3.5-4 out of 5. b.) Kate Mckinnon carries the film. c.) your points about Leslie Jones’s character and the fact that each of them has been a part of better statements about feminism are on point.

    • avatar
      March 17, 2017 at 9:27 pm

      So fair points.

      A) ratings are weird. I only use them because they make my “reviews” feel more like reviews. In reality I almost never review anything. They’re critical essays close reading films for some other point I want to make. This is probably lost on most people and I know that. But I know you get it.

      In any case. I want people to know what I think and if they should see it. In my mind to give it a 3 means I have to feel like I can tell any random reader that they should see it. It doesn’t really mean I liked it or didn’t. I love a lot of movies I’d give 2s or even 1s to. But I don’t feel like I can say “go out and see this” universally. Maybe to specific people. But not as a critic.

      B) I actually have been wanting to go into more detail there. So I think McKinnon was great. She rocked the role that she was given. My problem is with the character of Holtzmann from a narrative perspective. She’s unnecessary and inconsequential. Yes I get that she’s queer representation. But that’s extratextual… not part of the film. And that would be fine — in fact it would be great if it weren’t for the fact that she has no actual narrative purpose in the film. She’s a sketch character. She has no stakes. Erin, Abby and Patty all have both backstory and stakes. They have archs to follow. Holt is just tech support. She’s Q in Bond. All we know about her is that she’s Abby’s friend. She’s scientist #3. And since there’s two others, the story would work just as well if Abby and Erin made the gear themselves. If they fail to save Kevin or if Abby and Erin never come out of Hole’o’plot does Holtz even care? Who’s to say. All we really find out about her in the whole of the film is that she was apparent a student of sigorney weavers cameo character. And that’s after the movie is really over.

      But McKinnon was amazing at what she did with so little.

      C) yeah. That’s the weird thing. Like I get why people like this. It’s a tent pole movie with different characters than you usually see in a tent pole movie. But to me that doesn’t make it good. In fact a lot of tentpole movies are crap. Like the thing people mostly point out about McKinnon’s character is that it’s a rare opportunity to see a queer character in screen in positive representation. But it’s not. There’s tons of queer characters in movies. Hell… the movie that won best picture this year (Moonlight) had them. Just not the movies that make a billion dollars because everyone goes to see them. But a big part of making that billion dollars is working to formula that sort of limits the artistic expression… or at least makes it secondary to profit generation.

  14. avatar
    April 12, 2017 at 7:00 am

    Finally got around to watching this. Like you, I have only a tepid interest in the original. This movie was… kind of boring. And really not very funny. The characters mostly lacked motivation and the jokes were pretty flat and predictable. I completely agree that the actors didn’t push their performances (not that they were given much to work with). But I’ve seen episodes of the Gilmore Girls where McCarthy was funnier than this. (In fact, come to think of it, if you want to see strong female characters battling the supernatural with a comedic twist, basically any episode of Buffy selected completely at random would fare better than this movie.) I found it irritating that the only character who ever did any science stuff was Holtzmann (who was given no backstory or motivation; I guess nerds just act weird amirite) — meanwhile our P.O.V. character with backstory who is apparently a kick-ass scientist doesn’t do any science for the rest of the movie (but does get to ogle Hemsworth).

    • avatar
      April 12, 2017 at 7:03 am

      Yeah. That was my thing with McKinnon’s character. I get that people love her because she’s queer (if only by word of god) but she just had no reason to be in the movie. Everything she does could have been accomplished by one of the two leads. It’s like they just split off the “does science stuff” part of wiig or McCarthy’ script and said “hey Kate, do this”

    • avatar
      April 12, 2017 at 7:05 am

      Abby not doing science for the rest of the film ignores her analyzing the notebook filled with science.

      Doing science is more than just building things.

    • avatar
      April 12, 2017 at 7:46 am

      I was actually thinking of Erin, since she’s the character we get introduced to first and who is portrayed as being a theoretical physicist of such stature that she’s on the verge of a unified field theory (and who was traumatized by ghosts as a child, etc.). She doesn’t get much science to do in the rest of the film — she reads the cartoons scrawled in the book she wrote with Abby and realizes the villain’s diabolical plan, but though there are some equations in the margins, it’s mostly cartoons of the guy leading a fiery apocalypse. And I don’t even remember the scene of Abby’s you are talking about — I’m sure it happened, but I remember a lot more time spent on sort of lame physical comedy involving proton packs than on science, or even the appearance of science. (Doubtless my fault, I was probably ordering Thai food at the time. In my defense, the movie failed to compel my undivided attention.) And I get it. This ain’t A Beautiful Mind here, it’s a comedy-adventure movie. I’m nit-picking, I guess, from that perspective. But I wanted more. (I’m more irritated that the jokes weren’t funny than that the scientists weren’t fully fleshed out — but I felt like I didn’t even get that.)

    • avatar
      April 12, 2017 at 7:55 am

      Oh crap, I flipped the character names in my head. Erin is the one ogling Hemsworth.

      And I think some of it is that I finally get to see someone that represents me. Even it it’s not perfect it’s a lot closer than Bill Murray 🙂

    • avatar
      April 12, 2017 at 11:16 am

      I certainly agree that if you’re looking for “hard science” in ANY of the Ghostbusters movies, you’re losing big time.

      I don’t think the characters worked better than the Original though. Especially with Murray. That film is funnier… its by no means the highlight of his career (maybe Hudson’s since he didn’t have much of a career after). But the original is “funny enough”

      The remake isn’t UNfunny… but it’s not funny enough to carry through the derivativeness of it. Like I understand why its notable, but I shouldn’t have to. I can’t watch it and not spend the entire time going “why did they do this?” That’s the drawback of any remake. You have to do something new and interesting and special in order to not be bogged down in comparison. And “but they’re women this time!” Isn’t enough. I want a good movie starring women. Not just “a movie”

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