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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ghostbusters Review Part II: Girl Power? Please Do Me No Favors

I normally don't post reviews that are negative. I don't feel it's necessary since my opinion may not be everyone's. But I felt the urge to review this movie for a couple of reasons, some of it to counter what I find to be a disingenuous attitude by certain people involved with the project. In this review I want to address the concept of misogyny (which is a term many of the defenders of the film resort to to brush away any criticism aimed at the film) and how it seems to me as if the backers of the film are kind of using it as a crutch to insist that a sub standard film is better than it is. And it's irritating because as a woman who loves to see more Girl Power in films, it annoys me that a film isn't being allowed to stand on its own merit. 

As someone whose been hoping for more Girl Power in films and TV since the folks behind "Xena: Warrior Princess" showed us how it could be done, I walked away from this movie thinking, "This is not what I want to represent female strength" basically because I didn't find the characters to be very strong.


When the cast of the "Ghostbusters" remake was announced, indeed, many cave-men out there expressed outrage over the fact that the Ghostbusters would all be women. These were truly pathetic people whose posts on social media instantly told you where they stood on women in general, not just the Ghostbuster gals (for example, if you use the terms "bitches" or "ho's" in making your argument...it's fairly obvious where your head is at regarding females).

Unfortunately, the misogyny that was out there suddenly became a great marketing tool by the people behind the project and anyone deciding that the project struck a blow for "Girl Power." Consequently anyone who criticized the project or the cast no matter how valid their reasons they presented, were instantly thrown in with the misogynists. 

When I heard about the all girl "Ghostbusters" it simply smacked of a gimmick to me. It didn't seem a sincere attempt to make a good movie in the series and as I explained in the first part of this review, that's all most fans wanted: A well-made continuation of the series. 



And there seemed to be some hope even with the gimmicky casting when talk of making a passing of the torch movie started up. The women could be the daughters or female relatives of the original four and would pick up the proton packs to carry on the tradition. It was simple, it honored the old movie while opening up possibilities for the new cast. Best of all it wouldn't be a remake which no one wanted.

It's possible that the 2014 death of Harold Ramis (Egon Spengler co-star and co-writer of the original) derailed the idea of a passing of the torch. Ivan Reitman, director of the original, was set to be more involved in this project but Ramis' death led him to back off more from the project (though there has been some suggestion that Sony was behind a little of that as well).


When it was announced that Paul Feig was chosen to direct, I had no opinion having not seen any of his movies at that point. Having seen three of his films I think I would have been even more concerned with him taking the wheel of this project.

"The Heat" was okay. "Spy" was very good (though a lot of that had to do with Jason Statham sending up his "brand"). But "Bridesmaids"...the film everyone talks about to indicate Feig's comic genius, in my opinion was absolute garbage. I laughed twice, then midway through the film gave up and turned the movie off. That was exactly the humor and tone that the original "Ghostbusters" wasn't. Unfortunately it's the sort of humor the 2016 remake would be full of.


Now I know there are people out there who found "Bridesmaids" incredibly funny, and while the concept of this scene has some humor to it, 10 minutes of it goes a long way. It's also not the sort of scene that can work well in a movie such as Ghostbusters which along with comedy is dependent on special effects. 

Oh...that doesn't mean they didn't try.

Add to that the names that were ultimately chose for the cast. I wrote a blog piece regarding who was chosen to star in the movie and with a slight softening of my opinion after seeing the movie, I still insist that better actors could have been found for the roles. 

Add to that Paul Feig's (almost arrogant) insistence that the new movie would be a total reboot with completely fresh ideas and no ties to the original. 

Well let's just say I wasn't overly impressed with the direction of this project.

So yes, I was a Debbie Downer about the project from that point on. When the trailers were released, they only confirmed my suspicion based on the cast this was not going to be a good movie.


This is the third trailer released and it still looks bad. Th material just isn't there to work with to create an interesting trailer.

The release of the trailers really set off a back lash against anyone who thought they were bad. It didn't matter that the editing stank, the jokes weren't funny, the FX seemed over the top and cartoony. If you thought those trailers were bad it was all because the cast was female. (And yet one could argue that people were defending the trailers and the movie because the cast was female which I'll bring up later).



It was a pathetic controversy (which I discussed in another post) ginned up I believe Sony marketing who seemed ready to take advantage of the chance to gain sympathy for this project. They took on the demeanor that they were fighting the good fight for more female representation in movies (though give a movie a weak box office and Sony'll change that demeanor really quickly). Paul Feig went after anyone who criticized what they were seeing of the project using the "Girl Power" shield to insult anyone who might not be a fan of what he was doing. In a New York Daily News interview Feig is quoted as saying, "Geek culture is home to some of the biggest a-holes I’ve ever met in my life, especially after being attacked by them for months because of this Ghostbusters project."

Now he's right about the geek-culture thing. It can be home to a lot of a-holes far too passionate about their passions to present their opinions rationally.


But in that one quote he seems to boil all negative opinions about the execution of this movie down to unreasonable discontent in attempt to negate the fact that there are a lot of people who had valid reasons not to be impressed with how he was handling the brand. A good portion of people hitting the "dislike" button were fans who didn't like what had been done to a beloved franchise (and as I stated in another blog piece about the controversy, if someone talked about a love for the original, the next marketing strategy became defenders of the 2016 film sticking out their tongues and saying, "The original wasn't even that good. Nya! Nya!")

No it wasn't misogyny that led to the dismay, it was the people behind the remake that dropped the ball. Simple as that. And cramming a message into a movie rarely works. It has to be done with subtlety, more organically. 

So all the, "poor us, the fanboys are picking on cause we're women" started seeming very disingenuous. In fact, it came off to me as if this new movie had been given a pass because of the supposed extent of the misogyny directed toward.


Now, as I stated in the previous review in which I focused on the remake aspect, I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the movie and the potential I saw for the cast. Bear in mind, I forked over the cost of the ticket with very low expectations so they didn't have a high bar to climb. But it wasn't the complete train wreck that the trailers led so many people to believe it would be (and I do find it interesting that many of the scenes in those trailers were not in the finished product including a dance scene that isn't in the main movie but is shown over the credits which actually might have been kind of funny for a few moments). 

In the previous review I mentioned that the remake feel of the movie ended up being a detriment to the film. You can't help comparing the two movies when they have so many elements from the original (down to the way the villain allows them to "choose your destructor") in this film. Again, a big deal was made by Paul Feig who didn't want to do a passing of the torch. He wanted to do a complete reboot with entirely fresh ideas. Yet when the time came he created a film that milks the original for all its worth. I think that was a marketing ploy by the studio who hoped to bring in more of the fan base waiting to see another "Ghostbusters" movie. "Okay, it's with a new team, but see, we have cameos by the former cast, we use symbols and characters that appear in the original (Mr Stay Puft, the Ghostbusters' logo, the firehouse, even Slimer, etc.). So we're not totally washing over the original."



But you are. And you're doing it in a way that makes no sense. The trailers spoke of four scientists saving the world 30 years ago...but in the universe presented in the 2016 remake, that event never occurred. So why confuse the issue?

Gimmicks abounded with this project. 

And as I stated, there is so much borrowed from the original that there's way too much baggage for the new team to carry. The writer, the director and the cast just simply don't have the skills to pull off a movie as funny, yet subtle as the original was. A perfect blend of comedy, horror, and paranormal becomes, in the hands of the people behind the 2016 movie, a cartoon. Which is fine, but don't jump on people who would have preferred to see a better retelling of the tale.

Speaking of cartoons, getting back to the point of this post, while the people behind the production shouted out "Girl Power" and all the reporters and hopeful bloggers followed suit, bashing anyone who hated what they were seeing as misogynist, the folks behind the movie managed to take Girl Power and make it as cartoonish as everything else in the movie. 

This is why I wanted to write this second review addressing that. If this is Feig's idea of "Girl Power", please don't do me any favors. These are not women I want representing my notion of "Girl Power".


Annie Potts as Janine
So far, outside of the ridiculous, "The original wasn't even that good" statement, I've not heard too many people claim that the original was some sexist movie. And I'm glad. Because it wasn't. Quite the contrary. The women in that movie are actually very strong.

The reason the Ghostbusters were men was because a bunch of guys who worked together before got together again and created a movie. They weren't worried about gender ratios, or ethnic ratios or whatever. They were simply interested in making a movie together. 

But let's consider the characters in the new movie that are supposed to represent "Girl Power".


Kristin Wiig plays Dr. Erin Gilbert, a particle physicist. One reason I wasn't impressed with her in this was because she gives this character the same demeanor she seems to give most of her characters, carrying herself in the movie as if she's desperate to lie in the corner curled up in the fetal position. She seems constantly on the verge of an apology, as actually McCarthy's character does as well. After the prologue, we introduced to Erin as she stands in front of a white board with a hell of a lot of impressive math figures on it (I've heard most of it was gibberish but I don't know cause I ain't a particle physicist). She's cool, she's confident. The camera pans over to the audience and there's no one there. Back to Erin and she's doing some kooky sort of wiggle to get some courage up for the discussion to come later. 

Okay, there are even brilliant people who have a problem speaking in front of the public. But I think this scene was supposed to be funny, especially with Wiig's body movements and it just fell flat. So you've already established the character as supremely lacking in confidence, which I suppose one could argue she builds up during the course of this movie...I don't know, but her lack of confidence isn't even endearingly funny.

Now some have compared her to the Venkman character, but I believe she's more Ray...the heart of the Ghostbusters. She has tried to distance herself from her previous paranormal research for the sake of her career, but that doesn't mean she isn't still a believer (Venkman, of course never seemed to be a believer until the encounter with the library ghost). 

But here's part of the problem: Several years ago she wrote a book with her friend Dr. Abby Yates on the paranormal. It's a book that should in  no way jeopardize her current career. And yet the moment it springs up again (Abby tries to sell it on Amazon), Erin does everything she can to hide from her boss at the University (played by Charles Dance). She even goes to Abby, the woman she had a falling out with years before and hasn't spoken to since, to get her to take it down. (The supposed years of resentment between them seem to be as weak as the script). 

The inevitable (for the sake of the plot) happens and Erin's previous paranormal work is discovered. She's shown with a box of her belongings walking out of the University after she's been fired.  And as she walks, she insists to everyone that she hasn't been fired, she just cleaning her office (or something along those lines). Again, Wiig doing her typical schtick that really isn't all that funny. The comedy of constant apology.

Her firing was completely unfair, yet she's going out as if she herself has something to hide. How about giving us a character that gives the middle finger to injustice? Many women have been in that situation and who have gone out blazing. 

Yes, one could argue that her character will go through a story arc that will have her connecting with her self esteem through her experience with the team, but it doesn't really get that much better. The team go to the mansion to meet the ghost who a particularly unfunny scene barfs a ton of slime on her (that's why Charles Dance's character ultimately fired her, because the video of it was posted on YouTube).

She carries herself through the film like scared rabbit waiting for the next bit of slime to be puked upon her. Not someone I would consider a great role model for "Girl Power".


Let's consider Abby Yates, another person who seems always on the verge of an apology but she does it with a cutesy smile and just the slightest bit of fire in her voice. Amy, while very enthusiastic about the cause, also seems every bit as capable a salesperson as Venkman was. She even convinces Erin to come back into the fold (after ruining her chances at the college) despite the bad blood between them. The problem is that while Bill Murray’s Venkman was incredibly funny, McCarthy’s cutsy bit just doesn’t have the gas to pull that off. (Even her character’s name, Abby Yates, is sickeningly cute). That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have her moments. But the slight chuckle is not the same full on laugh that so many of Bill Murray’s often improvised remarks produced (all the original cast improvised throughout the shoot. Rick Moranis improvised the whole one shot party scene in which he introduced “Ted and Annette Fleming who own a dry cleaning business in receivership.”). If McCarthy could have turned up the bite in her portrayal a bit, she might have been able to pull it off. She didn't. 

And let's consider how well she wears the "Girl Power" mantle. A running gag in the film is that Amy is constantly short changed when it comes to the won tons in her won ton soup that she orders from the Chinese restaurant (that they actually end up opening the business above). She's even developed a hate/annoyance relationship with Benny the delivery boy who she constantly insists that he tell the preparers of the order about the won ton issue. 

I've had a few bad experiences with take out restaurants and you know what I did? I stopped going to them. Because there are about 100 others I could go to that would give me better service. In the whole of New York is this the only Chinese restaurant that Yates can order from? Of course not, but rather than choose a different restaurant, she settles. Now I know that this is for the comedy and the gag (which sort of gets old after a while), but if you're claiming your movie has a positive "Girl" Power message, then maybe you need to rethnk the gag. Because really, even taking out the gender issue, I just thought Abby was a complete idiot for continuing to order from a restaurant that consistently disappointed her. 


Now two characters did impress me. I had a feeling I was going to like Kate McKinnon as Dr. Jillian Holtzmann, who is obviously the Egon Spengler character: The on the cusp-mad scientist slightly out of touch with societal norms (and how cool would it have been if she were Egon's niece or something!). But where Egon, outside perhaps of Ray and Peter (and later Winston), had no problem projecting his slightly superior, anti-social attitude on others (for hobbies, he collects spores, mold and fungus), Holtzmann seems to try masking  her social awkwardness using attention grabbing ticks and reactions.

From what I can gather in reactions to the movie, you either love Holtzmann or you hate her. I’m in the love camp. I really enjoyed the character. Yes, she chewed the scenery a bit (but really, they all chewed it here and there. Subtlety was not really practiced in this version). She delivered what was written of the character. And I found it kind of fun. Her's is a character that does exuded "Girl Power".


The character that actually surprised me was Patty Tolan, as played by Leslie Jones who is done a complete disservice in the trailers. I expected her to be screaming for most of the movie (and unfortunately they did keep one of the worst scenes in the trailers) but she actually turns in a much better performance than the trailers would lead us believe. Patty is the Winston Zeddemore of the group. The every-person. The stand-in for the audience. He knows very little about the paranormal, he’s simply in it for a steady paycheck. Unlike Winston, however, Patty gave up her steady paycheck to “join the club” after witnessing frightening paranormal phenomena on the tracks of the subway where she works. Yes…the questions are valid: Why couldn’t she have been a scientist? Why wouldn’t the other members of the team have a working knowledge of New York geography having lived there for as long as they had? It is a lame selling point for her to give to join the team (as is her borrowing a hearse from her uncle's funeral business). That’s the sort of thing that Feig and his crew could have easily tweaked. But the character was actually more fun than one would initially suspect. She has the confidence that a movie touting "Girl Power" seems to promise of its characters. She takes the sort of the chances that the original "Ghostbusters" took. 

As for "Girl Power", here are some of the fantastic examples of it that the movie offers: If we remember the first movie, these guys had no idea what they were doing with this business and it was going to cost a lot of money just to get them started. But they charged forward and bought that unique fixer upper of a firehouse (after Ray Stantz took out the third mortgage on the home his parents left him) not even sure if they’re going to be able to make it work. They got up equipment, devised a storage facility, and waited for the calls...which didn't exactly light up the switchboard right off the bat. 

What do the Ghostbusters in the new movie do? They settle. First they swipe most of their equipment from the questionable "institute" that Abby and Jillian have been working out of for years (the dean of which fired them the moment he found out their department was still there). Unable to afford the firehouse which would be much better suited to their needs, they instead take an office over a Chinese restaurant (that has a convenient enclosed garage next to it where they can park the “Ecto-1” once that makes its entrance in the movie). Coincidentally enough, it's the very same restaurant that consistently screws up Abby's order, and can't even deliver the food within an hour when the delivery address is one floor above.

And yet she continues to order from them. 

And of course, as in the original, they need a secretary. As played by Annie Potts, Janine the secretary in the original movie could be surly (frustrated in the beginning by lack of work) and fancied herself a bit psychic, but she could also be warm-hearted and was surprisingly dedicated to the team. And she was a match for Bill Murray's Peter Venkman who insulted her once with, "And stop staring at me, you have the bug eyes" then immediately apologized for the rude remark indicating his own frustration at the situation the business was in. That's real dialogue between two humans, regardless of gender.



As female characters go, I don’t think the “Girl Power” brigade have anything to grouse about with the original movie's secretary.


In the new movie, Feig decides upon a male secretary. A gorgeous male secretary. An insanely stupid, vapid, gorgeous male secretary. As played by Chris Hemsworth, the character of Kevin starts out kind of funny. But the bit gets tiresome really fast…or should I say the one note character gets tiresome really fast. Unlike Janine in the old movie, Kevin in the new movie is a cartoon. Full on. And he does things that make you wonder, “How the hell has he made it to this age without walking into an open manhole or something?” 

Remember the blonde secretary in "The Producers"? That's Kevin, except that movie was made in the '60s and this is 2016.

Many people have detected a bit of hypocrisy on the part of the filmmakers who insist that they've created a movie featuring "Girl Power" yet to do so, apparently feel the need to reverse a stereotype at one time used against women. I don't know, maybe, maybe not. All I know is that there is a chance that this character could have been fleshed out, and Hemsworth does have the comedic chops to do more with it, but again, laziness seemed to win out and waste the comic potential of the character. 


And it does beg the question: The team hires this idiot because the moment he walks in, they all lust after him, especially Erin Gilbert who practically dissolves into jelly every time he’s near her. And that's cute. But four supposedly intelligent women looking for someone to help with the growth of their business decide to hire a man so stupid that he won’t answer a working telephone on the desk because he thinks the ringing is coming from the telephone in the fish tank (and who the hell knows why there’s a phone in the fish tank). All because their hormones are swelling. How is that "Girl Power"? How is that showing any individual characters, male or female, at their best? 

When love entered the domain of the original movie, it was between Peter Venkman and the wildly attractive and incredibly independent Dana Barrett played by Sigourney Weaver (You know Sigourney: Ripley in the "Alien" movies. You want "Girl Power", there you go) who was every bit Venkman’s equal if not his better. She was attracted to him. She enjoyed the flirtation. But she never pooled herself with desire the moment he entered the room (although he was totally in idiot-love-land when he saw her).



There is a particularly funny line in regards to how the girls in the new movie feel about Kevin when he’s possessed by the evil entity Rowan. “Let’s go get Kevin, we’re not going to find a secretary that pretty again.” I enjoyed that. Sure he may be an idiot, but he's our idiot. 

But while women weren’t featured heavily in the original movie they were none the less were very strong characters without having to carry a banner of any sort. Don’t give me the “Girl Power” chant when you have the strong women in your movie going gaga over the idiot secretary (actually, acting not that much differently than the guys in “The Producers” acted around their gorgeous blonde). 

Eventually, the Ghostbusters get their first call. A ghost at a rock concert (that's the scene with the oh so hilarious, "Let's go!" uttered by both McCarthy and Wiig who then agree to decide that the other one can say it next time. Yes, that's the level of humor). And again, in this scene, Leslie Jones actually shines in it (aside from the idiotic joke, "I don't know if it's a race thing or a lady thing...").

But they successfully trap the ghost and become overnight sensations. Unlike the original which followed up the first trapping scene with a montage of them going around the city catching ghosts, this seems to be the only ghost the team catches. And in the remake they can't even hold on to the one they caught. 

In one of the weirder cameos (though somehow perfect for the star) Bill Murray plays a skeptic who goes on TV attacking the Ghostbusters. For some reason he makes his way to their office and begins a discussion with Erin in which he manages to goad her into releasing the ghost. I'm not sure what his character's credentials are. I do know that of Dr. Erin Gilbert, according to Abby Yates, "No one's better at quantum physics than you." And yet this genius, who has witnessed a number of examples of the paranormal, who knows she has a ghost in the trap (that was trapped at concert featuring hundreds of eye witnesses) let's this guy goad her into releasing a dangerous ghost. 

I know they needed a device to advance the plot and I know they needed to shove a Bill Murray cameo in there. And there is potential in the Murray character and the scene. 

As I stated before, when it was announced that the new "Ghostbusters" would all be female, so many people cheered it as a shot across the bow for the representation of strong women in the movies. It was presented (beaten into the ground actually) as if Feig and his crew had to right some massive wrong that had been perpetrated by the makers of the original "Ghostbusters" or most certainly right the wrongs of an industry that has had a bias against women in these sorts of roles.

Yet these are the sort of characters he presents as powerful women?

Interesting that Erin was facing off with a character played by the man who starred as Peter Venkman in the original. What a different approach each took to the situation. Peter made Walter Peck (William Atherton) of the EPA back down once when he tried to get in to see the grid.



When he came back with writs and police, Venkman stood his ground as long as he could. After the grid was off, the ghosts were released, and the Ghostbusters were face to face with the mayor, he still came out fighting issuing some of the funniest lines in any movie. 

That's what I want from my Ghostbusters, male or female. Someone with the courage of their convictions who can debate toe-to-toe with anyone. Not some wishy washy character who is goaded into releasing an entity.

Consider the difference in tone when both casts met the mayors in their respective movies. All hell was literally breaking loose in the original. "The walls in the tenth precinct are bleeding," as one of the police characters states. The mayor isn't sure what to do when he's faced with people claiming that ghosts are behind it all. Venkman is canny enough to zero in on the one thing that will sway the mayor's mind.



In the new movie, things are a bit different. The mayor knows there are paranormal occurrences out there, but the mayor doesn't want the citizens to know so they don't have, "Mass hysteria." The women sit there sedately, knowing that something is up, knowing that they can do something about it, but being told they won't have the backing of the mayor or homeland security if they do. As a scene, like so much in the movie, it falls flat. Though of course it sets up the conceit that unlike the original, the new Ghostbusters is being pegged as a secret organization to battle the emerging paranormal threat.

Just don't tease Erin about whether or not she has a ghost in a trap.

Of course during the big battle their weapon technology has increased to the point where they can actually kill ghosts...if one can kill something that isn't already alive (again, no explanation of that concept). One more concept that didn't really make sense, but at that point the girls are kind of kicking ass and there's so much crap going on anyway, that you don't really care. As an over the top action movie at this point it finally found its footing. 



But it was at this point that I grew truly frustrated. The characters, flawed as I found them, I had finally warmed up to and I saw just how well the actors (if given better material) could have truly made this their own. If they could have had a passing of the torch movie that followed their own characters, or if this was a true reboot that didn't rely so heavily on the original for concepts and scenes and such, I think the whole movie could have been a good movie. 

But whether it was Sony's decision, Feig's decision, or a bit of both, they decided to mine the original for every thing they could to put in this movie, including the end face off with the evil entity (Rowan, now inhabiting Kevin's body) which is a direct rip-off of the concept behind the face off in the original. (and this is where fans of the original start to lose patience with Feig and his attitude).

In the original, a god-like entity arrives (in the form of a woman, no less) from the other side. She allows the Ghostbusters to choose their form of destruction. They clear their minds but of course the hapless Ray messes it up.


In the 2016 version, Rowan, tiring of using Kevin's body, allows the Ghostbusters to choose their form of destruction. The tense scene that follows in the original is no where to be seen here but Patty does ask, "Well why couldn't it be something cute like a cute little ghost or something?" And thus, Rowan decides to become a giant version of the Ghostbusters logo (though with a bow tie, for some odd reason).

The scene in the original that leads up to the reveal (and the reveal itself) of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is a classic. There's actually a surprising amount of tension as the footsteps leave you wondering what is coming down the street. Even Egon's absurd response to one of Venkman's questions manages to add to that tension. And then the tension is released with hilarious laughs when you see in it's full glory the adorable face of the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man here to destroy the world.



The lead up to giant ghost scene in the remake...meh! Rowan pretty much just takes Patty's suggestion and grows into a monster that tears apart everything. If it wasn't a "Ghostbusters" movie (and the joke hadn't been done better before) it might be a cool scene, but again, much too similar to the original not to compare. So it was completely unsatisfactory.

As was the way the ladies were able to take the big guy down. As I mentioned earlier, many people have pointed to examples of hypocrisy in regarding to gender treatment in this movie. Specifically, men are given the same treatment the folks behind the movie claimed women have been getting for so long. I'm not sure about that. Yes, Kevin is an obvious stereotype (to go along with Paul Feig's obvious style of humor). Rowan might have been inspired by the "fanboy" culture that Feig seems to dislike so much (I'm not sure. I actually think if Feig hadn't been so lazy and actually fleshed out Rowan's character, he might have been a serviceable villain).

But the way they were able to bring down Rowan in his giant logo form does smack a bit of slamming it to the men. The ladies all aim their the guns of their proton packs (apparently now able to kill ghosts) at Rowan's crotch which burns up dramatically.

Who knew a ghost had any junk to be affected in such a way?

Here's my problem with this scene aside from it being more of the desperate sort of humor that seems to be Feig's stock and trade. If that was a statement from a crew that seemed intent on making statements from the moment this film was announced, then yeah, it's pretty hypocritical. And I can't help but wonder how many women would be yowling if, in the original version, the guys took down the female form of Gozer (who actually manages to get the better of them) by aiming for her tits. Or heck, maybe drilling those rays into her vagina; you know women hurt when they're injured down there too.



But for some weird reason, people think it's the height of hilarity when a guy is kicked in the nuts. Or shot in the nuts. Kneed in the nuts. Breaks his fall with his nuts. Hell, when Lorena Bobbitt cut off her cheating husbands penis, it was the fodder for late night jokes for years. Imagine if a husband cut the breasts from his cheating wife's body. How much hilarity would ensue then?

So there is some weird thing people have about guys getting kicked in the nuts. My problem with the joke is that, first of all it's not all that funny, it's lazy physical comedy, and secondly it has been so amazingly overused the past few decades. Cartoons, TV shows, movies, what have you. Do you want an easy joke? Just put a guy's junk in peril. Personally, I don't think I found it all that funny the first time, I don't think it's funny after 5000 viewings of similar things in various forms of media. 

I wish I could remember the original review, but film critic Roger Ebert had a wonderful commentary on this type of joke and I have to agree with him. It's too easy. Cheap. And doesn't really pay off all that much for the effort.

Perhaps that's why Feig decided he would use it. He might have run out of ideas at that point.

That's possibly why ultimately, a movie I wouldn't have cared about, has led me to write two reviews on it scrutinizing two different aspects of it. For all Feig and Company's clamor about the misogynistic fanboys, what they have offered us is writing not that much better than what you would find amateurs doing on YouTube and other social media platforms. 

For this movie he needed to step above the level of humor he used for "Bridesmaids". Even the level of humor he used for "Spy." He needed to present us with something funny, and interesting, and if he wanted to include a message fine but there was no reason to beat us over the head with it. He needed to give scenes a lot better than those containing endless riffing of characters who sometimes sound more like children on a playground than doctors of anything. The original cast improvised, but there was an intelligence behind it added immeasurably to the comedy (and the other elements of the film). This movie resorts to the lowest form of humor for most of it and as I said before, it gets old real fast. 

And to try to deflect from this inadequacy by couching any criticism of it in terms of misogyny is doing a disservice to the very people you claim you're trying to support. If the material is strong, the performances strong, then you shouldn't have to silence every critic with accusations that can neither be proven or disproven (how does one prove a negative? How does one prove their criticism isn't misogyny?)

There was most definitely potential to this project. It is worth a viewing even if on DVD. I saw potential for a tale of true "Girl Power." In my opinion, it's just a shame that the writer/director couldn't rise to the occasion. He was too busy offering us the same sort of characters he's offered us before in his previous movies: Girls who rather than roar, squeak. Or if they roar, they follow it up immediately with an apology for causing a scene. My hope is, if Sony does continue with plans for a franchise, they find better writers and a director who truly understands how to do the movie right. 

So that next time Dr. Erin Gilbert faces down a skeptic, she'll come out swinging like the Ghostbuster she is.









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