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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Filmsnork Review: Ghostbuster (2016)

Ghostbusters (2016) had an uphill battle from the day it was announced (sexism is alive and well in this country.) Along the way that hill became much steeper when the studio chose the wrong director and writers delivering this embarrassingly bad revival of the Ghostbusters franchise.
Unlike what some people would like to hear, the casting is not the problem here. Good films let you forget you are in a movie theater (on your couch or in a subway car) and transfer you into the film's world to escape for a couple of hours - not this Ghostbusters. The fatal flaw is the dialogue - it never feels natural, (with the exception of a few) EVERY line delivered in a way that you'd assume the script notes consistently read "wait for laughter to die down" after each line. When you try too hard to deliver laughs you often lose the human qualities that make up a good character. What you are left with ad are "joke" delivering caricatures - each actor/actress is given a well-defined role to play and only delivers specific jokes to match that respective personality. A script like this is constricting for the actors, leaving very little room for authentic feeling dialogue. It is similar to an ensemble sitcom that has passed it's prime, the characters no longer feel like people with real thoughts/emotions/etc. You can essentially anticipate what they will say every time it is their turn to open their mouth. This can work with the right script and direction, but here the jokes are shallow and repetitive and the direction does nothing to help. Every line is played for the laugh. A perfect example of this are the receptionist jokes. How many Chris Helmsworth, dumb-hunk jokes can you have in a two hour movie? Answer, too many. The problem only becomes compounded when all those jokes lead to little or no laughter. Comedy is about timing and instead we are hit with a barrage of jokes that fall flat. If the four Ghostbusters are on screen they are trying to amuse you. It is numbing. The ratio of joke to non-joke is way off. Fix this and the film is automatically better.
There are hints of what could have been scattered throughout the film. One scene I actually enjoyed has a frantic Kristen Wiig coming across like a crazy conspiracy-theorists in a fancy reference complete with a very funny Jaws reference. The scene works because the character is not just delivering a clever joke, there is much more at play. Come to think of it, the original GB worked best when the core four were in the room together to play off each other, that is the opposite here.
As for the fan service, there's plenty - they could not cram in enough. It is as if the writers were convinced that referencing the original film would be considered clever. It's not, especially the couple dozen times it is done here. That is the equivalent of shouting "How about them Cubbies?" during a concert in Chicago. You can only shout out "How about them Cubbies" a couple times before it loses it's impact. And, with whole scenes dedicated to these shout-outs to the original, how can this new BG interpretation come into its own? I love a good cameo now and then, but today's cameos have become so ham-fisted that they have lost their luster. It is obvious, when the camera is avoiding to show something/someone that's at the core of the scene, something/someone nostalgic is about to appear - oh brother. The whole wink at the camera approach is played out. Instead of winking, the time would have been better spent exploring the new characters is wasted with reveal upon reveal upon reveal of fan service. (FYI, if you want to see a great cameo, watch Zombieland.) 
Director, Paul Feig, could not piece together enough pieces to make the film the fans deserved. Instead of a team of outcasts we can all get behind as they try to save the world, we are delivereda group of comedians in a room trying to out do each other for laughs. I have hope that the right director could harnesess enough from the talented cast to turn this franchise around. Here's hoping that Hollywood doesn't pull a DC bring back the wrong director for a second chance. 
In a typical review, I'd usually delve into the acting, but in this case there is little to say here. These ladies had nothing to work with. And, although some haters out there are probably happy with that, I was completely let down. Ghostbusters was the very first film my family rented when we we lucky enough to have a VHS player. It will always hold a special place in my cinematic heart. I wanted to love this (or at least like) - to have a film to share with friends, fans and family. Sadly, that didn't happen and all we have here is a forgettable mess of a film. That is why I am giving it 3.5 out of 10.

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