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FEMALE REBOOT OF GHOSTBUSTERS

Year: 2016
When word hit the streets Bill Murray would provide a cameo, the anticipated GHOSTBUSTERS reboot, with dolls instead of guys, was rumored to be a sequel – nothing doing. Bill, the sarcastic cool dude who grounds the original, plays another version of "Dickless" here... True fans will get that reference and for newcomers, Bill plays a complete jerk – but he's not the villain, by any means...

That title should go to the writers, Katie Dippold and Paul Feig. And yet as director, Feig provides some scary, suspenseful moments, almost as if he really, deep down, wanted to make a bonafide horror flick with a side-dish of comedy. And there are times when the four girl Ghostbusters geek-out with a genuine flow of scientific expository dialogue, especially Melissa McCarthy as Abby, a hybrid of Dan Aykroyd's soulful buried-lead and a cerebral Harold Ramis... Meanwhile, Kristin Wiig has the most to lose, at least at first, about to get tenure at a University while forgetting her Paranormal Research past when it rears back up in a book she co-wrote years earlier: Uptight and anxious, she's goaded by tomboy Kate McKinnon as Jillian, the token wild card who acts as if we know her character already. In fact, in many ways, Feig's GHOSTBUSTERS seems more like a dull sequel to a first (proverbial) venture that,  like SPY and BRIDESMAIDS, actually worked...

MOVIE SCORE: **
But they really don't have much at risk (like Aykroyd's Ray, who took a Second Mortgage on his parent's house to get the ball rolling) and way too much time's spent with characters trying to be witty – who just aren't. This includes our main trio, so comfortable with each other they don't have to work in order to gel and/or smooth out any rough edges, and side-characters like THOR sex symbol Chris Hemsworth as the perfect looking yet vapid secretary along with Leslie Jones's Patty. While he reminds everyone "I'm great looking and don't act as such," she's a sassy expert on the history of New York City to aid the science-minded former-bullied Wiig and McCarthy, and yet their camaraderie leads to nowhere. And the foursome's rags to riches climb to be taken seriously – from finding a logo to perfecting weapons to landing their first gig hired by an uptight building manager – mirrors the Ivan Reitman directed comedy classic like THE FORCE AWAKENS did to STAR WARS: stalking the premise in an accidental yet intentionally contrived fashion (although not quite as much).

The jokes, either in an overboard Judd Apatow style or your typical "polar opposite buddy banter," falls flat on top of a story that's almost intriguing, and hell, even somewhat original, leading to an overlong finale which, as you'd expect, seems downright blasphemous – then again, maybe it all is, or... was. Because it doesn't matter if bundles are made on the opening weekend; this reboot probably won't have legs – most of us remember the horribly flawed GHOSTBUSTERS II. In the case of the entire franchise, with an overall theme so outrageous and far-fetched, it's really something that needs to be perfected upon the first attempt, which 1984 was and 2016 ain't.

Aykroyd and Murray in the original
TRIVIA & CONNECTIONS: As most people know, Dan Aykroyd wrote GHOSTBUSTERS as a vehicle for he and cinematic partner John Belushi, who had scored with THE BLUES BROTHERS, based on a musical skit from their groundbreaking stint as original members on SNL, and two other movies, 1941 and NEIGHBORS, weren't so incredible yet still have a worthy cult following (especially the first)... When Belushi died, the part went to Bill Murray, which meant the script had to be reworked by Harold Ramis – who'd already helped create Murray's wry movie persona from MEATBALLS, STRIPES and CADDYSHACK – from what it had been: starting out in a world already run by ghosts and demons, making the 'Busters as busy and common as automobile mechanics, till director Ivan Reitman told Aykroyd the boys needed to have a beginning for there to be a middle and end, and along with co-star and co-writer Ramis, history was made: the original film was not only hilarious but quite risky as it could have been a giant turkey given the fantastical premise. Now, to relate this into the new film, it seems that Kate McKinnon's Jillian character, already a tough, sloppy, world-weary partner of McCarthy, is more or less what John Belushi might have been: a brash and blunt blue-collar firebrand. So while McCarthy, as mentioned in the review, is like Aykroyd and Ramis, Kristin Wiig is basically the Sigourney Weaver ingenue of the picture, being taken into this world and providing the most vulnerable and ladylike mannerisms to counter all the action and provide her character an arc. And yet she's also the person we, the audience, see everything through with "new eyes," like Murray, who couldn't believe his own eyes in the original, along with the audience.

The late HR
Meanwhile, Chris Hemsworth is the Annie Potts, and his answering machine message says, in a polite tone, "Ghostbusters, whatda ya want?" which is what Annie said, irritably, after being refused a raise. Yet he's also a geek with a heart of gold, like Rick Moranis, whose attributes also mirror the chief villain of this flick, but he's got a bit of Peter MacNicol from the sequel: a middleman for ancient evil (which was Moranis, also). As mentioned, much of this film intentionally copies the original, but the ghost who's being shocked from the electric chair is taken right from the 1989 film during the Harris Yulin courtroom sequence.

And if anyone is surprised Bill Murray, who detested that sequel and wanted nothing more to do with GHOSTBUSTERS... in fact the only reason he starred in the first movie is so he could make his labour of love, THE RAZOR'S EDGE, a vehicle so serious he lacked charm and personality, and a pulse (his brother, Brian Doyle Murray, stole the picture): If anyone cannot believe Bill would partake in a reboot, providing more than a cameo and actually kinda helping the story along, it's probably the same reason Kevin Bacon celebrated the FOOTLOOSE remake, both actors most likely happy to let the franchise go to someone else so it could be further from their own legacy: Too bad for them, and good, and obvious for us, the originals are always better being that they were classic enough in the first place to have been remade at all: Amen.
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