This Movie Has Issues
Movie season is here and people are pretty excited, but not every film’s being met with open arms. The new Ghostbusters, a remake of the 1984 classic, has been met with criticism left and right, all the way to the point that people aren’t even going to review it. Then there’s a group of people who are defending the film and everything it stands for. It has reached the point that there is a pro and anti camp for the movie, something we commonly see in, y’know, things that matter more than a movie. So what’s the problem? I mean for a lot people it’s pretty obvious why they don’t like it (and we’ll get to that) but it can’t be that bad before we even see it right?
I suppose it goes without saying (as the title might hint) that I’m in the anti-group. Pre-judging a film, or really any media, isn’t a smart practice but there’s some precedent here. As a delightfully cynical person in many regards, I always make sure I can explain my issues and really pinpoint the problems I have. So let’s detail exactly what qualms I have with the film.
The very notion of this movie aggravates me
No, no, no. This doesn’t refer to the cast (and we’ll get to that). This has to do with the fact that this movie is a dirty, rotten, no-good remake. Before the studio even hired a damn boom-mic operator, this film was a bad idea. Mainstream filmmaking is ripe with laziness and unoriginality. You can’t go a month without seeing a new remake, adaptation, or reboot. Most of the time, movies being remade are classics or beloved for some reason, which begs the question, why do it in the first place? What is the point of remaking a movie that people already love? What’s the goal? To be better than the original? To be a faithful update of the story? Nope. It’s money and laziness. It’s to cash in on the name and to do so while expending as little creative effort as possible. That’s the first issue of this movie; it’s a microcosm for one of the most persistent problems in mainstream filmmaking these days. The fact of the matter is that Ghostbusters didn’t need a remake. The original was great, is a classic, and it will still be highly acclaimed for years to come. I may have liked another sequel with the original cast, but that ship has sadly sailed (though the Ghostbusters video game fits into that role well). They could have casted all men, all women, all friggin’ platypuses for all I cared, it wouldn’t have changed the fact that the very notion of a Ghostbusters remake annoys me to no end.
Like most remakes, it doesn’t following a non-existent formula
This next problem ties into the last one, but it seems extra prevalent here. Why do many campy 80’s films fail to register when they’re remade? One reason is because the time period they were created added to their appeal, taking away from the era hurts the remakes. They simply try to follow a formula that worked for the original; but trying to replicate the formula is problematic because often there isn’t one. Sure many movies are formulaic, but trying to pinpoint the “formula” for comedy is difficult, especially in one of the most beloved comedies of all time. Ghostbusters isn’t loved because it’s a “supernatural comedy” or that it followed certain characters. That’s only a part. It’s also beloved as a collection of some of the best comedic talent of the era, including Bill Murray, Rick Moranis, and Harold Ramis. It’s the same reason It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World is one of the greatest movies of all time and Rat Race, a “spiritual remake” is forgotten garbage. The context when the film is made and who makes it are just as critical as the movie’s subject matter.
The trailer was very “meh”
OK now something that’s completely certifiable, and that is the trailers for the movie have been totally underwhelming. Maybe it’s my preexisting dislike for the film, but nothing in the trailer was all that interesting. The jokes were standard, pretty much what I expected, and the CGI was scattered. Not by any means the worst thing I’ve ever seen, not the worst thing on YouTube at least, but still nothing special. It really just seemed like an average, modern day comedy, but nothing that screamed “watch this.” Now obviously not every film is defined by its trailer, but if something doesn’t look appealing, why would I pay to see it?
The movie isn’t a beacon of feminism, it’s an exploitive understanding of it
And lastly, it’s time to address the elephant in the room: the cast being all female. The very idea of the film being a female-centric cast has sent people into a rage, made them loony, caused riots, fire, brimstone, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. As I said earlier, I was already sour on this movie, so the casting didn’t have me frothing at the mouth. No, instead I noticed that people starting tying the casting to the idea of feminism permeating films or as some guys might say “being shoved down our throats” (which is funny seeing as how movies are a pretty choosey medium, so it’s not exactly hard to avoid something you don’t like). I think connecting the cast of this movie to feminism is actually bad though, because it’s completely undermining the actresses’ talent. As I said, being a remake, this movie is just a simple cash-grab, a lazy take on a classic movie.
However, if the studio actually believed in the acting skill, charm, and drawing power of these women, they wouldn’t feel the need to attach such a weighty name to the project. I don’t care if a movie centers on a female cast, but rebooting movies with the sole intention of changing the genders reeks of gimmickry. They’re not doing it to showcase the actresses and they’re not doing it to “honor” the originals. They’re doing it to cash in off a recognizable film name and get a rise/free publicity from people, all while masquerading as “empowerment.” Like I said, if these filmmakers cared about women’s representation, then they wouldn’t have made this a reboot and they wouldn’t feel the need to focus gender as a selling point. These women are funny, they are talented, but instead of giving these women their own potential classic to star in, they’re remaking a classic. Having a completely female cast has the appearance of empowerment, but an original idea would be much more empowering for these actresses. You could argue “but they’re trusting the legacy of Ghostbusters to these women!” to which I would answer “No remake has ever, ever, EVER, been concerned about legacy.”
Now of course all of this is purely subjective, just like the medium of film itself. I find this to be a problem, but others might not. It all basically boils down to “Remake, bad. Original idea, good” Casting a different gender doesn’t make a remake less bad, and it doesn’t change the fact that the cast is in a cheap remake meant to cash-in off of the name. What do you, the reader, think of the new Ghostbusters trailer? Are you going to watch it?