Directed by Paul Fieg
Written by Katie Dippold and Paul Feig
Hollywood loves to dig up beloved films from movies past and ‘reimagine’ them for a remake for today’s audiences. Sometimes this works, such as with films like Scorsese’s The Departed (Remake of the 2002 Infernal Affairs) or Cape Fear (remake of the 1962 film of same name), but more often than not it fails horribly. First of all for most fans of the original will hold a special place in their minds. Second if you imagine to overcome the fondness for the original you have to choose to either respect the original film and literally redo essentially the same film (half the crowd yells boring such as with Spike Lee’s 2013 remake of Oldboy), or take some risks by way of ‘reimagining’ to lose the other half if not the entire crowd (2010’s The Karate Kid). Finally this perceived ‘sure fire’ of a remake movie the studios love to green light should be thought about a bit more before unleashing what often gets treated with poor reviews, lackluster box office, and furthering the stigma of remakes not being good films. So with Ghostbusters we have ample does of redoing essentially the same film as the original with some boring reimagining (women instead of men in the lead roles). I am one for gender equality and welcome seeing very funny female comedians like Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Cecily Strong grab the big laughs on screen. Yet this film failed them and their talents. There are moments for sure and with comedy it is like catching lightning in a bottle. Yet the biggest flaw in the script is how Melissa McCarthy’s character was not so much Bill Murray as well, Bill Murray is. More often than not her character is played not too far off from being a straight shooter. Not to sound chauvinistic, but she was rather the straight man along with Kristin Wiig’s character. Now I felt Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones character’s hit all the right notes for laughs, but poor writing given to Melissa McCarthy who really could have taken the film to more laughs.
Now unto plot. As a true remake we have setting New York – check, four ghostbusters – check, characters get slimed – check, city politicians act against them – check, villain wants to make a portal for spirits and ghosts to come to our world – check, check, and check. Seems like all the right beats to hit and make a sure fire hit. Wrong. You got Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson to make cameos and just about waste film on all three. Now Ernie’s cameo in the end was good, but Aykroyd was so fast it might as well be cut form the film. Bill Murray had so much more potential. Perhaps he is happy he was ‘removed’ from the film when he was to spare himself. Now the director and writers have great success in writing TV comedy. Benefits of TV comedy is you can have some misfires and recover the next episode. A film you get that two hours and that is it. Seeing Feig has worked with McCarthy on his few films should mean he knows how to get a better performance and write to her strengths as a comedian. He had a good film with her in the 2015 Spy and okay outing in the 2013 film The Heat also starring McCarthy. I largely blame the lack of laughs due to not taking enough risks. The studio most likely felt an all-female cast was enough to wow audiences. If you are going to do something special go all out. Let these four hilarious comedians really turn up the laugh factor. I am sure the blooper reels for this movie is more enjoyable then the film itself. This is a perfect example of an okay remake film that should have easily been a cult classic with the talent they had on deck. I hope for any sequels the studio adds a couple more writers to the project. I recommend Becky Mann (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), and Tina Fey (SNL, 30 Rock).
Thanks for reading Writing Movie “WRONGS.”
Writing Movie Wrongs (MovieWrongs.com) was created by Author Jim West to show how great storytelling is built on strong writing. In each review, he aims to highlight points in film that capture what the medium is capable of, or provide feedback on small improvements that would make a huge difference to the story’s plot. Read more about Jim West at JimWestAuthor.com.