Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Side By Side: GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) vs GHOSTBUSTERS (2016)

Welcome to another installment of SIDE BY SIDE, where we dissect the differences and similarities between two films, be it a remake/reboot with its original, a sequel with its original, or two similar movies. This week we will be comparing classic horror comedy, GHOSTBUSTERS, with the brand new Paul Feig remake.  Enjoy!

I can hear the hateful provocateurs shouting now. Screaming “Give Ghostbusters back to Marvel!!”, as they refuse to see this new movie and even give it it’s own fair chance. And to them I whisper “Sorry, babe, the 1980s came and went. Come enjoy our new era of lovely!”

I've spoken ad nauseam about the 2016 Ghostbusters. The lead up to this movie has been the firestorm embodiment of the toxic society that’s being forced on us right now. I’ve coined it before but it’s like living in the “Fallout 4Chan Wasteland”. Where the crazy left, the crazy right, and everyone caught in the middle, for some reason or other, has a dog in this fight. Using a harmless film franchise like Ghostbusters as their battlefield, wanting to discuss the films quality freely or social justice warrior-ing (with the subtext of self-loathing, rage and insecurities not being let out properly in our all smiling Selena Gomezy world so people turn to comment sections since there're no new Nirvana albums to shout along too). It’s almost Gamergatey the way this whole scenario played out. Showing political correctness vs. free expression vs. representation and all the ways the crazies think we should police it. It’s a convo that has like layers and shit.

Which is sad, since not only is Feig’s new Ghostbusters a harmless movie to have this discussion on, it’s actually quite a fun, lovely movie! One that made me think “Okay, so this who was this film made for”, since it never really appealed to 80s nostalgics or people who aren’t exactly Feig fans, and it dawned on me how simple of an answer I got. First off, all movies are made for money ignorant of whose pocket it’s coming from. That’s an obvious given. But who was it made to really work for? When I think of the new Ghostbusters I picture an audience of little girls. Fun-loving, dream-having little girls that will look up to Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones as heroes, in a world where having an all-female team is fun and natural! I can picture them pointing to the screen at their favourites during the credits since they reflect who they are or aspire to be. I think it’s only fair we all have our own heroes, whether that’s through the male or female gaze. Not every girl exactly wants to be Bill Murray's Venkman, (even though we all low-key want to be), but you get the point.

This is what Feig does really well, creating that approachable, funny team, but making them just cinematically kick-butt. Where the original film had a cooky comradery among characters (it’s also really just a movie built around letting Bill Murray say one liners), Feig’s film has a quirky comradery among cast and crew. It’s essentially satirical in its and lets you in on the joke. Like watching a movie with filmmaker friends and pointing out together "oh yeah, the secretary trope is pretty funny on Hemsworth, innit?". These are two very different approaches to the franchise, where I can see where one could be turned off by it, yet could also win them over with some of its charm and a happy willingness to give it a chance. Paul Feig, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, they’re given just this playground of spooky ghosty goodness to play around in their friendly, satirical way, just supported with around $140M special effects. It never tries to be all that serious, but just some light, fluffy, casually self-aware entertainment (since NO, the original Ghostbusters is NOT a serious horror film with comedy, so don’t give me any of those dumb arguments), while indulging in those big cinematic moments and progressivisms. I think it’s perfectly fine to indulge in those things. Having bright environments is pretty to look at, seeing cities be crushed by ghosts in their video-gamey glory is fun, and whether you’re okay with indulging and letting your own inner crazy (in a much better manner than the comments of a Reddit page), that’s entirely up to what works for you!

I gotta give Feig and his crew credit. They survived the Fallout 4Chan Wasteland. They gave us not only a light, occasionally witty occasionally looney movie to make adults happy when good people like Leslie Jones are grossly harassed every day, but something that’s so positive and caring, giving those little dreamers their own lovely heroes to grow up on. I told you, man, this had layers.

Bailey's Scores:

Ghostbusters (1984): 8/10

Ghostbusters (2016): 7/10

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