Ah Ghostbusters...I don’t think there is a comedic/horror franchise that has developed such an ardent and devoted following. This is especially interesting as there has only been 1 universally well-received film in the franchise, the original 1984 film directed by Ivan Reitman.
I enjoy that film well enough but have never seen it as some kind of comedic masterpiece like others do. To compare it to the likes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail is insane but to each their own I suppose.
We of course got the 2016 reboot with an all-female cast that made the internet implode with toxicity and now we have a new iteration Ghostbusters: Afterlife. And unfortunately a critic friend of mine had a supposed fan call him on his personal berating him for his negative review of this film, so the toxicity continues amongst extreme members of the fandom. Sigh…
But what do I think of this film? I suppose that’s why you are all reading this review! Honestly I’m of 2 minds about it. I enjoyed watching it and can tell Jason Reitman took crafting a love letter to his father very seriously. On the other hand, is it still a nostalgia porn cash grab by a studio desperate to keep an IP alive? Yes, yes it is….
In the end enjoying Ghostbusters: Afterlife will lean entirely on whether you can stomach the nostalgia or not. If you find that patronizing and annoying you will hate it. If you can smile at most of it than there’s lots to like here.
One of the biggest differences in this entry is it is solidly made for children rather than adults like the original. McKenna Grace leads the cast as a quirky girl named Phoebe who is moved to the middle of nowhere by her Mother (Carrie Coon) to take care of her Grandfather’s dirt farm after his passing. Grace is very likable and endearing and I think boys and girls alike will really enjoy her performance.
Paul Rudd plays Phoebe’s teacher and fellow seismology nerd who begins dating Coon’s character. Then we have Finn Wolfhard as Phoebe’s brother Trevor. The action is well done throughout and there is a plucky feel to the adventure that will remind 80s kids more of Goonies than Ghostbusters tbh.
Where the nostalgia comes in is in a series of cameos and winks at the original that did make me cringe and weren’t really needed for the story but then I’m not a die-hard fan of the franchise so maybe they were more appreciated by the audience it was made for? You’ll have to let me know. The Annie Potts cameo was especially lame. Talk about giving someone nothing to do…
The score and special effects have an 80s Amblin-esque quality to them that I found charming and engaging. Others may mileage may vary on it. There’s also a moment at the end which you could feel Reitman’s love for his Dad literally on screen and it got to me. It was as raw and real as you can expect in a movie like this.
I’m not going to tell you Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a classic and people who hate it are wrong. I get it. Still for me it was a sweet enough love letter by the director to his Dad and an engaging enough adventure for kids to recommend. I’d say if that sounds appealing to you give it a try.
Today I saw the movie that broke the internet. For months the battle over the Ghostbusters remake has been raging strong. It has a female cast, some idiots trolled, people involved overreacted and then a bunch of lousy trailers came out. Plus, like Independence Day it’s another movie that others feel much more nostalgia for than I do. You can see my best shot pick and thoughts on original Ghostbusters here.
So is this new version the monstrosity that some people hoped for? (Yes some idiots hoped it would be bad). No, in fact, I liked it very much!
Going into Ghostbusters I looked for a few things. 1. I wanted charismatic, likable female cast, 2. I wanted to laugh, 3. I wanted some entertaining ghostbusting action. This film gave me all of that. I left with a big smile on my face.
So let’s start with our leading ladies. We have Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. I like that they aren’t exact copies of the 4 original Ghostbusters. McCarthy and Wiig are long time friends who have written a book on the paranormal. They had great chemistry together and I thought McCarthy stole every scene she was in. I know some are tired of her shtick but it’s really not here. There isn’t a single fat lady joke in the whole movie. She’s just funny.
All of the ladies have great chemistry together and things like Leslie Jones being from the street was actually well done. For the most part character-wise what worried me in the trailer didn’t come to fruition. Kate McKinnon verges on being a little annoying but I was ok with it.
A lot of people have complained about the depiction of men in the film. I think this complaint misses the subtle humor these roles have. I can’t even tell you how many movies I’ve seen where every female character is a dimwit, shrew or hooker. Now they turn it around. That’s part of the joke! It’s called turning the tables to make people think and maybe laugh a bit at the way we see gender played out in film. Chris Hemsworth isn’t just the idiot, he’s a satirical jab at every dopey receptionist babe we’ve seen in a thousand other films.
Let’s get to the humor. I must own I actually haven’t seen many Paul Feig films because they are usually hard R ratings. Here he is working in PG-13 territory and for the most part I laughed a lot. The banter between the ladies was very funny and dry.
Also Chris Hemsworth is hilarious in every scene he is in as the dopey receptionist. I also liked little moments like when Melissa McCarthy can’t get her broth to wanton ratio right from the Chinese restaurant. Things like that made me laugh.
Now the action it is not as horror influenced as the original but I liked it. I thought some of the designs of the specters was cool and how the women had to use their brains to take them down was also cool. I particularly liked a set of ghosts that were giant balloons that felt very day of the dead influenced.
It was also cool to see all of the new gadgets that McKinnon’s character invents. I think young girls will see this movie and have fun playing scientist and killing those ghosts! It’s the same thing that makes me excited to see girls playing Rey. I had Ariel and that’s basically it. Nothing tough and fighting like this.
That does bring me to a negative I had in the movie. Most of the movie is so kid-friendly that it bummed me out when unnecessary crude and vulgar humor was thrown in for no reason. Like a character gives another the middle finger repeatedly. Why did that have to be in there? I don’t need that for my little girl. You also had a joke about female anatomy I could have done without. That said, those crude and vulgar jokes are much worse in the original so it’s not really a surprise.
There are also a number of cameos and callbacks to the original and some of them do feel forced. It didn’t bother me that much but it is definitely fan service. I particularly could have done without Slimer and his wife driving around.
I honestly hope there is a sequel because I think that will be even better. I think these fan service moments are out of the way and we can move on to an entirely fresh story.
Overall, if you can turn off the critics I think you will have a good time. Is it the greatest movie of the year? No but honestly neither was the original- at least to me. They are both fun summer movies with quippy dialogue and scientists taking down ghosts! Give it a shot. I don’t think you will regret it.
Overall Grade- B+
I did something new with my youtube video this time. I hope you guys like it
Hey guys! I’m excited to share with you a new video series I am trying out. It’s a video where I cover all the news in both animated TV shows and movies. I thought of this because I don’t really like reviewing trailers, so it seemed like a good way to cover the trailer but also other topics that I think are interesting. I figured I could make my viewers aware of smaller projects or shows that might be off their radar.
There are obviously going to be room for improvement but I think it is a pretty good start. Let me know if you have any suggestions.
Also, what do you think of this week’s news? In the video I cover:
Box office for Zootopia and Boy and the Beast
Trailers for Kubo and the 2 Strings and Red Shoes and the 7 Dwarves
Movie announcements for animated Ghostbusters and Surfs Up 2: Wave Mania
Utah release of Boy and the World and Only Yesterday
Aaron Springer Billy Dilly Show
Ducktales reboot image review
Cancellation of Wander Over Yonder
Tangled Before Ever After series
Big Hero 6 series announcement
Does any of this news interest you? Let’s discuss it in the comments section here or on the youtube video. If you feel so inclined give it a thumbs up! Thanks so much. 🙂
I am very excited to inform you guys the Hit Me with Your Best Shot series over at The Film Experience is back up and running with a new season. This is a super fun blogging series that Nathaniel sets up where he picks a film and then we select a screenshot from the movie that we feel captures it best.
How to play
1. Watch the movie
2. Pick its best shot
3. Post it somewhere online with why you chose it on March 8th
4. Let us know you did so and we link up that Tuesday night!
It’s really fun to see the different choices all the participants come up with. You can see some of my picks from last year here
This week Nathaniel has chosen the 1984 classic Ghostbusters (he does a good job mixing box office favorites with artistic films).
The last time I saw the film it was in the theaters in 2014 for the 30th anniversary. I thoroughly enjoyed myself then and had the same experience this weekend. It’s not a movie I’m overly sentimental about or have a lot of nostalgia for but I think for popcorn movies it is very entertaining.
What makes Ghostbusters work is similar to what makes a lot of blockbusters work- a charismatic cast and a witty script. It’s pretty much what has made all the Marvel films successful. It’s not like there are great special effects or a complex plot like Inception or something like that to draw people in. This is personalities and clever writing.
Ghostbusters is a simple story about 4 paranormal activity investigators (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson) who hunt down and capture ghosts in New York City. It is directed by Ivan Reitman and the script is written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis.
The script is very dry and sarcastic with a lot of opportunities for the comics to feed off of each other. They are also assisted by Sigourney Weaver as a woman who seeks their help and Rick Moranis as her nerdy neighbor. Everyone involved is likable and funny and makes up for a frankly silly story with special effects that have not aged well.
My favorite character in the film is Peter Venkman played by Bill Murray. He is very sarcastic and overly-confident but there is something that is likable about him. Maybe it is his smile or his chemistry with the other actors? I’m not sure, but I always laugh whenever he is on screen.
This is where I get to my shot. He has just visited Dana for the first time alone and kind of believes her but is skeptical at the same time. Either way he wants a date with her:
And then you’ll say, “Pete Venkman’s a guy who can get things done!”
“I wonder what makes him tick!”
“I wonder if he’d be interested in knowing what makes me tick?”
I bet you’re going to be thinking about me after I’m gone.
I bet I am! Pushes him out the door. He sticks his face back in.
That’s when we get this shot of him peering around the door and we all wonder along with Dana ‘I wonder what does make him tick?’
You like that poster? Well, my friends in the new movie Pixels there is no Pacman the size of a city, no Golden Gate Bridge and no San Francisco. No West Coast at all in fact. The poster looks like an exciting concept but sadly that’s not the movie we got. And in many ways that is emblematic of Pixels as a movie. It’s not really satisfying on any level.
That said, if you like Adam Sandler and were one of the cinemagoers that contributed to the $247 million gross box office that was Grown Ups, you will love Pixels. It isn’t as bad as That’s My Boy or Grown Ups, or Jack and Jill. It’s watchable. If you like Adam Sandler’s schtick there were a few laughs. Something I can’t say for those other films I mentioned. At least Pixels does not have a vomit, urine or other bodily function joke. Great job Adam Sandler! (Have you got the idea I’m not a big Adam Sandler fan).
It’s a shame really because Pixels could have been the next Ghostbusters. It’s directed by Chris Columbus and he gives it an 80s sensibility with the music and some of the early scenes feel authentic to movies of that era. Just like with Ghostbusters the creatures special effects are pretty well done and you have this tag team of comedians fighting them off.
The problem is the writing is so bad. With Ghostbusters you had 4 eclectic guys who start up a business. Are actual entrepreneurs which makes them unique and fun to watch. Plus, the script is dry and funny and each of the 4 guys has his own personality and story arc. All the guys in Pixels are the same and have the same story to tell. Basically the entire point of the Pixels script is to say to Adam Sandler “you haven’t done anything with your life but that’s ok. Your lazy manchild skills are really what are going to save the world after all”. How hilarious.
The first joke of the movie is that Kevin James is supposed to be President of the United States. This should be the one gamer who did something with his life but he’s a buffoon. You get no idea of how he could have possibly become president. In fact, some of the gags at his expense come off as kind of mean. For example, it is a big joke that Kevin James can’t read very well.
Wouldn’t it be more funny to have an actor like Martin Sheen or Michael Douglas (who both can be very good in comedies) be the video gamer at heart but also be a serious President? Wouldn’t that have way more potential for comedy? Or put in someone like a Kiefer Sutherland who is super angry and vengeful towards the aliens. That would have been funny. Anything other than Kevin James acting like a buffoon as the leader of the free world.
Anyway, Adam Sandler is James’ old friend who was defeated in the 1982 World Arcade Game Championships. This left him devastated (who knew coming in second was such a horrible thing at a WORLD championship). Anyway, NASA at the championship sends off a time capsule with clips of the video games and other pop culture relics from 1982 in hopes of it reaching extra-terrestrial life.
The problem is that capsule is seen as a declaration of war and so the aliens come down as those video game creatures and attack America. There are tons of plotholes throughout this whole scenario. Like when Pacman and Centipede come down there are specific rules that are the same for the game and yet later on it is just a barrage of video game characters who evidently have no rules? Also why would the aliens know about cheat codes? And why would they design into their attack a way to defeat the game and destroy their complete existence? And wouldn’t it make more sense to have the aliens create their own characters? Why would you invade a race with the exact things that they are using in their ‘declaration of war’? Because this movie is stupid that’s why…
All this would be fine if it was funny (Gozer in Ghostbusters isn’t exactly a great villain either) but aside from a few chuckles it just didn’t make me laugh. Josh Gad who I normally love is especially annoying in this. He literally screams every time he is on screen. I wanted to yell- “channel your inner Olaf. That was funny!”
Peter Dinklage is alright in it but he has a strange accent that wanders in and out. His character is inconsistent and not very well written but he tries. He gave me a few laughs.
The other thing with Ghostbusters is in that movie you had a lot of factors against the team. In this you have a grumpy Brian Cox who is listed as “a military heavyweight” in the cast list and he doesn’t like these civilians butting in with his team. Gad is even allowed to scream at the seals for an extended unfunny scene that added nothing to the story. It makes no sense for Cox to be hating on the team especially after they have defeated Centipede and Pacman. I guess he wanted the world destroyed?
Sean Bean appears for a gag Sandler loves of 2 men hugging in fear. It’s 2015 is that still funny having 2 men awkwardly hugging? The women are also completely wasted. Michelle Monaghan is gorgeous and a lieutenant colonel in the army but her main job is to invent things for Sandler and then direct them from a screening room. She also gets dumped for a woman named Sinnamon (with an S as pointed out several times) and is seen drinking chardonnay with a sippy cup even though her son is at least 10. I’m nitpicking there but they totally underuse her.
Jane Krakowski who can be so funny is in 2 scenes of the movie and one of them she is decorating a cake with the her husband the President in the middle of a war and in another they are at a party also thrown in the middle of wartime. Ashley Benson is literally a trophy given to one of the men for their victory (when I say literally I mean literally).
All of that said, the special effects do look kind of cool and I did chuckle a couple times. I can’t say that about all Adam Sandler movies. In fact, this is probably one of the best he’s done since the 90s…
Little kids might like it. There’s a little mild language but that’s about it as far as offensive content. But will kids get the appeal of the 80s arcade games? So I don’t know who this movie is made for?
Like I said, if you like Adam Sandler movies and think some of his comedies of the last 10 years have been funny than you will probably love this. It’s just not my cup of tea but I can see its appeal to others. Hopefully that gives you some idea of what to expect.
Overall Grade- D+ (for special effects and I feel like at least Adam Sandler tried so I won’t give him an F).
My youtube review on this one. I must say I think my thumbnail on this turned out really good! 🙂