From the second Paul Feig’s all-female Ghostbusters reboot was announced, my reaction was that it helped if you simply didn’t think of it as a Ghostbusters movie. If you could have just told me that the guy who created Freaks and Geeks and directed Bridesmaids and The Heat was teaming up with The Heat‘s young screenwriter Katie Dippold on an all-female action-comedy with some supernatural elements I’d be all in. Why wouldn’t I? I love Freaks and Geeks, admire parts of Bridesmaids, generally enjoyed The Heat, and it seems like we don’t really get a lot of action-comedies anymore, outside of 21 and 22 Jump Street. If you would then tell me that the cast was rumored to include Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy I’d tell you I was excited but that you already had me at Feig and Dippold. But a lot of that comes crumbling down for me when you tell me it’s going to be a Ghostbusters reboot with no connection to the first two films. Eh. Why? Seriously, Hollywood (specifically, Sony Pictures), why are you doing this?
Oh, they’re doing it all right. They’ve officially announced a release date (July 22, 2016) and a cast (Wiig and McCarthy, as expected, along with current SNL favorites Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon). Moreover, Film Divider claims to have some inside information about the plot and characters of the reboot:
There are four Ghostbusters, operating out of an unusual building in New York City, riding around in an unusual vehicle, using and creatively abusing their proton packs, and they each have a different personality type that will balance their overall dynamic. But it’s not as simple as there being a new Venkman, Stantz, Spengler and Zeddemore. While the new characters do have some connections to the originals, much more has been changed.
It’s at this point I think it is fair to point out that I’ve never heard of FilmDivider before today, and I’m not clear where they’re getting their information from other than perhaps the Sony hack. That being said, they admit they have no idea who the actresses have actually been cast to play, but they make educated guesses in their breakdown of the new characters [POTENTIAL SPOILERS BELOW]:
The protagonist is one Professor Erin Gabler (probably Kristen Wiig), a with-it physics whiz who, some years ago, co-wrote a book about the paranormal. Now she’s more skeptical and the book has become something she has to live down. Professor Gabler’s co-author was her friend Abby Bergman (probably Kate McKinnon). Abby has stayed true to her belief that the supernatural is real, and while she’s now conducting her research at a rather irreputable, grungy institute, she’s doing so sincerely. Abby’s new partner in research is Jillian Holtzmann (either Melissa McCarthy or Leslie Jones). She’s the inventor of the Ghostbusters’ technology, she’s got a fine line in snark, and she’s of the “shoot your proton pack first, ask questions later” school of thinking. Patty Tolan is the fourth Ghostbuster (either McCarthy or Jones), the one who comes from a more everyday walk of life and joins the crew later. She’s upbeat but also a realist, and she only believes in ghosts because she’s seen them with her own two eyes. And Tolan is the first to encounter the Big Bad, but also the one who makes the Ghostbusters’ business possible.
I think it’s kind of funny that this progressive, all-female Ghostbusters might very well maintain the structure of the original film in that the sole black person in the cast will be a blue collar worker who only joins the story after the white people go through their origin story. That is, of course, only if this casting breakdown is to be trusted. Otherwise, the new characters don’t sound like carbon copies of the original, which is for the best. FilmDivider does claim that a reconciliation between the Erin Gabler and Abby Bergman characters will be a big part of the film, which sounds a little too Bridesmaids to me, i.e., Wiig and Maya Rudolph’s characters first falling out and then back into their friendship. Elsewhere, we already know from the Sony hack that Peter Dinklage is being targeted to play the villain, but Film Divider also says Feig and Dippold have left room in the script for Bill Murray to play some part in the story although they’re not optimistic about being able to get him (Somewhere, Dan Aykroyd just heard that rumor and punched the air in frustration).
I still find myself ultimately agreeing with what Seth Rogen’s told Collider when his name popped up in connection to a new Ghostbusters several years ago, “I mean, just as a movie fan, I’m the first guy to be skeptical of a new Ghostbusters. It sounds like a terrible idea when you first hear it. Actually, at first hearing it sounds like the worst idea ever […] That would have to be one motherfucking good script.” I’m also inclined to agree with original Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson (Winston) who isn’t fond of the idea behind this reboot, “I heard it was going to be a total reboot, and that it would have nothing to do with the other two movies. If it has nothing to do with the other two movies, and it’s all female, then why are you calling it Ghostbusters?”
They’re calling it Ghostbusters because that’s how they’ll be able to sell the movie. In a different era, maybe Feig and Dippold would be free, fresh off the financial success of The Heat, to get a green light on a Ghostbusters-like comedy centered around 4 women, likely to include several of the actresses from Bridesmaids. It would come along, we’d all know where they drawing their inspiration from, but it wouldn’t actually be burdened with bearing the actual Ghostbusters name. That’s just not how it works anymore. Now, it has to be a Ghostbusters movie because that’s the only way they’ll get the necessary budget to pull off all the effects shots, and the studio can feel comfortable about being able to sell it to overseas audiences. In today’s Hollywood, pre-existing intellectual property is king, which is how we got a western (The Lone Ranger) based on a character who hadn’t had his own TV show since 1957 or own movie since 1981 and a big-budget kids movie (Mr. Peabody & Sherman) based on a Rocky & Bullwinkle spin-off that aired its last original episode in 1960. A Ghostbusters reboot seems like a slam dunk by comparison, especially with how well female-fronted films have drawn at the box office lately, and the announcement of the film’s cast comes at the same time as rumors of Disney pondering an Indiana Jones reboot featuring Chris Pratt in the title role. It seems like eventually any beloved blockbuster from the 80s will get a remake or reboot or whatever. You can cynically assume it’s not a matter of if but when we’ll see a new Back to the Future, although original trilogy co-writer Bob Gale is putting up a fight on that and instead wants to talk about doing it as a Broadway musical!!!.
To be fair, the concept of movies being made from existing source material goes way back to the origin of cinema. In fact, for some time now there have usually been at least 15 to 20 remakes/reboots/sequels in the Top 50 grossing films in any given year, with 17 of 2014’s top 50 movies qualifying as such compared to 15 in 1985. Plus, are remakes/reboots really all that bad? ScreenRant came to their defense early last year:
Hollywood has churned out countless uninspired, cash grab, remakes but there are also a lot of really good ones too – films that both reinvigorated their brand and delivered a solid new chapter in a fan-favorite franchise. Fans might think that the first question a studio should ask before remaking a film or TV property is: “Should this property be remade or rebooted?” Yet, anyone familiar with the entertainment industry knows that question is never going to be a priority – as long as there is potential money to be made. Instead, the question that really matters is: “What is an inspired approach to remaking this property?”
Does this whole “all-female” thing qualify as a truly inspired approach to a Ghostbusters reboot? It at least makes it more intriguing than a more by-the-numbers version slotting young male actors like (picking at random) Andy Samberg, Jesse Eisenberg, Jake Johnson, and Damon Wayons, Jr. into familiar roles as the three white guys and one black guy. It is curious that they didn’t try a co-ed version of the group, but the “all-female Ghostbusters” is probably an easier gimmick to sell than “co-ed Ghostbusters.”
Of course, I loved Ghostbusters when I was a kid, and it was one of the biggest box office draws of the 80s, despite being an entirely original concept. However, I also loved Star Trek as a kid, yet my best friend didn’t become a fan until she was well into her 20s when the JJ Abrams Star Trek came out. This new Ghostbusters could similarly attract new fans, or at least make younger audiences more aware of the 1984 classic, as ScreenRant argued:
Not all (if many) remakes or reboots will ever be able to replace the fond memories and experiences that we’ve had with their respective originals; yet, that doesn’t mean that, with the right direction, every remake or reboot has to be viewed as corrupting the legacy of a beloved franchise. Even the lousy ones are an opportunity for fans to draw attention to their preferred iteration – a reminder to support the film or TV show by encouraging others to check it out or purchasing an updated retail copy.
That’s all fine and good, but, honestly, I’d just prefer that this new thing Feig, Dippold, Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon, and Jones are doing not be called Ghostbusters. But it is. I’ll have until July 22, 2016 to get past that and give their new take on the material a chance because right now I’m just annoyed.
What about you? Let me know in the comments.
Source: Film Divider