Open Thread: Discussion of Ghostbusters (2016)

(by chris the cynic)

This is for discussing the Ghostbusters reboot.

Previous discussion has happened at Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings in open threads here and here and you can go there if you want to see stuff that was already said but don’t continue the discussion there.  If you want to add something, do it here.

Well before any other information about the movie was known, it attracted interest because instead of an all male field team with a female secretary as in the original the new movie features an all female field team with a male secretary.

Two trailers have been released for the movie so far.  Note that the references to “30 Years Ago” are meta references because “The studio felt that they wanted to nod to the audience that we’re not pretending that those other films didn’t exist.”  In the movie’s universe the original movies never happened and thus the ghost stuff is new.

First Trailer:

International Trailer:

 –

[As a reminder, open thread prompts are meant to inspire conversation, not stifle it. Have no fear of going off topic for there is no off topic here.]

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9 thoughts on “Open Thread: Discussion of Ghostbusters (2016)

  1. christhecynic March 12, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    To reiterate my main point from the previous discussion, the trailers make me think I’m supposed to be laughing at the characters in the new movie where in the original movie I didn’t feel that way.

    In isolation this wouldn’t bother me so much; it would just be “Not my kind of comedy,” but since this is litterally setting up boys (original) and girls (new) ghostbusters teams it strikes me as really problematic because I feel like I’m being told, “Laugh at things that happen around the boys,” and “Laugh at the girls,” which … ick.

  2. depizan March 12, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    I feel rather the same way. The only trailer I’ve seen that I liked was a fan-edit. Which mostly makes me wish we could give the movie to the fans who did the fan-edit trailer so that they could also fix the movie.

    I think the idea has a ton of potential. I just don’t have any confidence that the execution is good.

  3. beappleby March 12, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    I was just coming to post the link to the fan-edit trailer!

  4. Firedrake March 13, 2016 at 3:25 am

    Ah good, someone got in with the fan edit. 🙂

    Agreed, this is sometimes making the principals the butt of the jokes – though sometimes in a good way, as in the “which of us says ‘let’s go'” scene. But I think that a “straight” re-make, with or without the gender swapping, would have been as dull and uninspired as those things always are.

    I don’t see this being a classic, but it has the chance to be at least vaguely enjoyable.

  5. christhecynic March 13, 2016 at 8:22 am

    I don’t propose a direct remake, but I think how the original did the comedy really worked well and could work again. Something doesn’t even have to be in the same franchise to use the same comedy style.

    Every character in the original (first movie) could have been dropped into a straight drama just fine. For most of them it wouldn’t even have to be a supernatural drama. Even possessed Dana and Louis would have worked if you made them acting strangely be due to psychological rather than supernatural forces.

    Likewise many of the scenes themselves could have fit in straight drama (though it would have to be supernatural drama for the scenes) as well. Maybe all of the scenes provided that it wasn’t all at once. Well, supernatural drama or supernatural horror. Some of the scenes were definitely shot as horror scenes.

    Compare Venkman being slimed in the original to Gilbert being slimed in the new one.

    When Venkman is slimed it’s shot as a horror scene. Things tensely build up, dramatic cut away, friend running to his aid in terror, arrives too late. Slime doesn’t make it comedy (see the Aliens franchise where slime is always a sign of very bad, very non-funny things.)

    When Ray arrives too late Venkman is alive but on the ground, immobilized for the moment, and in psychological shock. When Ray calls Egon the way he says, “He got slimed,” is the way one might say, “He got shot.”

    The comedy comes from a variety of places. First off, by now the movie has started to solidly establish itself as a comedy so that puts you in a different mindset. But the biggest thing is Egon’s response. “That’s great! Get me a sample.”

    That fits Egon’s character perfectly and doesn’t really stand out as a joke per se, but given that no one responds with something like, “Show a little compassion,” the audience feels comfortable laughing at it.

    In the new movie Gilbert being slimed is done on screen, for longer than it really needs to be, via ghost vomit, and the only follow up is her talking about how it got into every (one of her anatomical, presumably) cracks and it was difficult to get out again.

    The scene is shot as straight up body humor. She got vomited on, isn’t that funny? You know what would make it even more funny? Discussion of cracks it got into.

    These are two very different styles of humor.

    The last (and longest by far) scene in the first trailer feels to me like it’s saying, “Laugh at the loud angry black woman,” but even if it doesn’t feel that way to you, try to imagine Ernie Hudson’s character doing it to Bill Murray’s character in the original.

    There’s no fucking way they’d have had that scene. There’s nothing overly gendered about the scene (though it does fall right into negative stereotypes of black women), so it’s not like male characters couldn’t have done it. The difference is in how the movies treat their characters.

    Hudson and Murray’s characters were taken seriously. Jones’ and McCarthy’s don’t seem to be.

    In fact, we see how the original treated possessed characters. Dana and Louis’ initial presentation was presented as pure horror and, for Louis who had longer to respond, pure terror.

    Dana’s didn’t have much in the way of comedy. Louis’ did because of juxtapositions and, at the end, dark social commentary of the type a stand up comedian might use (think Lenny Bruce about Jesus and Moses coming to church in New York by way of Spanish Harlem.)

    Demon dog of doom come to possess Louis in the closet: not funny. Demon dog of doom getting coats thrown on him as people show up and toss their coats in the closet.

    When the dog is heard Louis thinks someone snuck a dog into the party and responds with a light, almost playful, “Ok, who brought the dog?” then he opens the closet and sees demon dog of doom and responds with completely appropriate terror. Comedy in the Juxaposition of the two.

    When he’s finally possessed it’s outside of a high class restaurant (Tavern on the Green) that has a wall composed entirely of windows. His somewhat muted cries for help are ignored by the few who hear him, but when he cries out in utter terror that gets everyone’s attention. The look up just in time to see his body being dragged away as his scream dies. Interruption over they go back to their meals and conversations as if nothing had happened.

    None of this takes away from the seriousness or horror of Louis being possessed, but it does give you reasons to laugh and that is where the humor comes in. It’s totally unlike the treatment of possession in the trailer for the new one.

    After the two are possessed an appropriately concerned Venkman sedates Dana and a very interested Egon analyses Lois. None of it read as “Lets have a funny scene with a possessed character” the humor came from how things fit together. Louis in particular (since he’s the one who goes out into the wider world), being possessed by a demon dog of doom, is totally ill equipped to deal with modern human society.

    Also it leads to the cops showing up with a paddy wagon and the receptionist responding with a completely flat, “Dropping off or picking up,” which is a great response to that happening.

  6. depizan March 13, 2016 at 11:59 am

    And all of that is why I found the fan-edit trailer a lot more enjoyable than the real trailers. One of the things the cuts accomplished was making it seem like the characters are taken seriously. I’m really not into the laughing _at_ people sort of comedy. Laughing at weird shit that happens to or around them is different. And a Ghostbusters movie should have lots of opportunity for weird shit and even genre savvy humor. (Another thing horror comedies can be great at.)

    I don’t know that anyone wants a scene for scene remake, but if the humor stayed in the juxtapositions, dialogue, and just weird stuff going down, I’d be a lot more likely to see this than I am a movie that seems to be “haha, female Ghostbusters are funny.” or just flat out “nerdy women are funny.”

    And it doesn’t feel like an accident. The big black woman slapping someone to, er, de-possess them isn’t funny – it’s an awful stereotype, especially with the quasi-religious dialogue. Now if Patty had pulled McCarthy’s character back in the window and the physicist had run up going “I know what to do!” and slapped her and out goes the ghost, I think that would’ve worked much better. Instead of an awful stereotype or slapping people being funny, then the humor is in a character doing something unexpected.

    I don’t know whether the writers are just lazy or whether they’ve chosen the laugh at the main characters route or what, but, to me, what they’re doing _does_ seem dull and uninspired.

  7. lonespark42 March 15, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Terrible trailers! Why are they so often a thing?!?

  8. Firedrake March 16, 2016 at 4:35 am

    I think trailers are aimed at very specific subsets of filmgoers. It’s particularly notable to me how much they go out of their way to say “this is a film of standard genre X” – whether or not the film is a good fit for that genre, it’s a reassuring message. Here is animation for kids where people fly through the air going “whooooah”. Here is a romcom for women. Here is a grunty action film for men. A trailer that doesn’t send this message is often a sign of a really interesting film, where even the trailer editors couldn’t force it to look like something generic.

  9. genesistrine March 16, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Well, regardless of the trailer I’m still going to see it, if only to spite the whining misogynist hordes. It’ll be annoying if it’s terrible, but eh, Fury Road and The Force Awakens means it’ll still be two out of three for spiting horrible nerds. I’m OK with that.

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