REVIEWED: Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016)

Welcome to Life In Plasti… wait, no.  no toys here, though I did review a few.  Ahem.  Sorry, no pretty pictures in this one, folks.  It’s just a movie review for one of the big controversial things people have been yammering about all year:  GHOSTBUSTERS
1) Three Word Summary
2) The Controversy
3) The Social Justice(tm) Review
4) The Actual Movie Review
1) THREE WORD SUMMARY: I really enjoyed it. Wait, that was four words. Now it’s more. I fail.
2) THE CONTROVERSY: Okay, the toughest thing about the new Ghostbusters movie is that it’s not allowed to just be a movie. When it was announced, a small but angry subset of the population went bonkers about the cast including women. And then, they hooked up with the “Everything new SUCKS!” and “All remakes kill my childhood!” crowd. Then those guys ended up fighting the SJW crowd, which, unlike their name, don’t actually stand for social justice, they stand for… well, fighting and weirdness. So, two toxic sectors of the internet clashed and fought and hurled around insults and downvoted trailers and made everything a mess. As a result, you can’t really trust movie reviews. People who already wanted to love it have loved it. People who wanted to hate it have hated it. if the movie came out with zero controversy… it’d do well, most people would love it, but the hardcore “new things suck” crowd would have hated it. And, ironically, the SJW crowd would not have liked it.
3) THE SOCIAL JUSTICE(tm) REVIEW: Ignoring the battle lines and and judging this movie just by “Social Justice” standards, it’s terrible. Patty Tolan is a racial stereotype. The supposedly-smart women fumble and bumble around, and turn into weak-kneed “I AM NOT SMART NO MORE” saps when they see a hunky guy. oh nooooooooes. But eh. I’m done talking about controversy, because none of it is in the actual movie.
4) THE ACTUAL REVIEW: This is a fantastic movie. It really is. I looks like Ghostbusters, feels like Ghostbusters, and just easily slots right into the franchise. It’s scary when it needs to be, funny when it wants to be (a couple of the jokes fell flat, but they were overwhelmed by the funny ones), and clearly the actors all had a blast being there. Now, on a personal note, I would have preferred it be a sequel, especially since Peter Venkman said “franchise rights!” in the original movie, but this one still works. And yes, Patty Tolan, played by Leslie Jones, is a little too stereotypical for my taste (just google the problems witht he “Sassy Black Woman” stereotype, and you’ll see what I mean), but she isn’t remotely as bad as the trailers made her look. It helps that they made her a relatively fleshed-out character, and her “I know this city” line is tied to actually being intelligent and studying, which helps her fit in with all the scholars in the rest of the cast.
Erin Gilbert is not the Peter Venkman of the movie. Really, none of them are dirct parallels, unless you want to draw such vague lines as “the university washout,” “the true believer,” “the mad scientist,” and “the ethnic.” Don’t do that. She’s a great character in her own right, with a completely different arc than Venkman. She plays the straght man a little more than the others, but not completely – one thing about this movie is that it lets the actors shine in their own routines, just like the cast of the original.
Abby Yates is treated like a human being, not a walking fat joke. in fact, by dressing Melissa McCarthy like an ordinary human, it’s refreshing. Abby is a very childlike, and often childish, bouncing between squealing glee and petulant rage at take-out Chinese food.
Jillian Holtzmann steals every scene she’s in. Kate McKinnon was clearly having the time of her life, and… seriously, it shows. I miss Harold Ramis tremendously, and Egon Spengler was a fantastic mad scientist, but Holtzmann is different. She’s not a copy of his archetype, she’s a lunatic who dances with blowtorches (“Let’s be safe now, please”) and steals wigs. Even if the rest of the movie bores you, she’s fantastic.
Kevin… okay, Chris Hemsworth. I started chuckling while typing this. It would have been really easy to screw up the hilariously dumb receptionist, but his TIMING nailed it. The “Mike Hat” scene pretty much nailed it.
Rowan, the villain, is actually pretty good. Well fleshed-out (though kind of a stereotypial “I got bullied, so I’ll kill you all!”) guy, and the Giant Evil Logo Ghost scene makes total sense in context, just like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man did in the original.
The cameos from old cast members are… it was nice to see them, but I miss Ramis. Bill Murray is the only one who’s an actual character, and the others felt tacked-on, but it’s nice to see their faces again.
The movie does have a lot of callbacks to the original, nd most of those are actually its lesser moments – whenever it goes through the motions instea of exploring its own ground. But the biggest of those, the Logo Ghost scene, is actually a great redo of “Choose the form of the Destructor” done in a way that it’s only similar when explained.
The ghosts look great. Gertrude Eldridge is not a new Library Ghost, the Subway Ghost is horrifying, Mayhem looks a lot better than the toy, Mr. and Mrs. Slimer steal their scenes (“Well, they’re having the time of their life”), and thre’s a scene during the climax where the Ghostbusters have to fight pretty much every ghost in a gigantic brawl, and it’s done very, very well. The Parade Balloons were a little odd – good scene, but it was unclear if there was already a parade going on, or if they were literal ghost balloons. The Stay-Puft Balloon was just a straight-up cameo, and just kind of existed. Not the movie’s best point, but not groan-worthy, either. It’s just one of the balloon ghosts, and is the last one to be taken down.
And the thign is, this isn’t a Grrrl Power(tm) movie. It’s not even a Feminist Statement(tm) movie. It’s something way better: A movie where the leads just happen to be female. A true sign of equality isn’t having “Strong Female Leads” who need to announce, “I’m a girl! Take that, men! See how awesome I am?” Nor does it need “positive role models” with no flaws. What we need to se eare movies that treat female characters the same as they would treat males. The leads being male or female should be about as significant as their hair color – and sure, some humor was focused around them being women, but to be honest, this was a good movie with female leads. It is one of the few I can think of that succeeded in actual gender equality by not making it an issue. So, if you really wanna get all Social-y about it, the movie succeeds in a way that the loud screaming people did not necessarily want. It doesn’t thrive on Male Tears(tm), it’s just a good movie.
So, ignore the controversy, and just watch it if you want. Or don’t, the world won’t end.
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