I’m worried about the upcoming reboot of Ghostbusters.
I was beside myself at the prospect of Jurassic World’s release this summer, and was not disappointed when I went to see it (twice). Literally, it was like Colin Trevorrow took all of my expectations, and my childhood, and my grown-up appreciation of film, wrapped it up in gigantic puce box with a sparkly turquoise bow, and presented it to me across the table at a dinner party with Victoria Beckham, a real-life velociraptor and the cast of Brothers & Sisters.
But I have massive concerns that the 2016-scheduled Ghostbusters reboot will not deliver the same thing. Why so worried? Because it was my LIFE when I was about 5-11 (and 12-31).
For starters, Paul Feig is at the helm. He is known for comedies – notably Bridesmaids. While Bridesmaids is awesome, it’s pure comedy. Ghostbusters is not. It was comed-ic, but not a comedy. But the concept and casting of Feig’s new film just reeks of slapstick. Now, I am NOT sexist, so don’t go there; but the women thing is a recipe for disappointment. Had Feig assembled a sort of Charlie’s Angels-esque cast, I’d be more on board. But the women he has cast are hardly action stars. They’re not unfit or too old, they just don’t look the part. I absolutely love Melissa Mccarthy but she’s not an action hero. And whilst the Ghostbusters aren’t meant to be Thor or Captain America or Iron Man, they are also not a troupe of comediennes from Saturday Night Live.
Feig has been tweeting like a trooper over the last couple of weeks, giving us snippets of props and set-pieces from the set. So far we’ve seen the proton packs, the all-in-ones and the new Ecto-1. I say ‘new’ loosely. It basically looks like the version from 1984. In fact, I’d go as far to say that it looks even more dated than that. Remember when the washed-up, out of business Ghostbusters took Ecto-1 out of mothballs in Ghostbusters II to battle the river of slime and John Cage from Ally McBeal? Even THAT looked better – it had a tickertape on the top of it!
I said in a tweet to Feig yesterday that I was just…underwhelmed. And here’s why:
Ghostbusters is being rebooted. This is not a sequel. This isn’t the Ghostbusters III that all the children of the 80s were praying for. That’s fine – the original cast are all older now, one of them is dead (RIP Harold Ramis) and a second sequel would require fresh young meat anyway. If it were up to me, I’d still rather see a Ghostbusters III rather than a Ghostbusters 2.0. But a reboot is all about injecting freshness into a franchise, and installing it into the present day. And all I’m seeing is an elderly-looking Ecto-1 and proton packs that look a bit like the ones from 1984 but with a lick of metallic gloss on them.
I want this film to reflect the time it’s in. I suppose the whole female cast situation is actually doing that, bringing empowered women in to battle the supernatural, rather than men. But with that, I want gadgets and a futuristic car. Proton packs in 2016 would surely be less clunky, no? I would have updated Ecto-1 into a snazzy van or something, with a sliding side door with the Ghostbusters logo emblazoned on the side. I don’t want to betray everything we know and love about the original, but if you’re going to reboot something then emphasise the boot!
Jurassic Park, in 1993, was all electric wire fences and interactive CD Roms and motorised jeeps. Jurassic World, in 2015, is all invisible fences and thermal monitoring and gyrospheres. And this is my point. I want a Ghostbusters that has moved solidly out of the 80s. I want to see Janine Melnitz (who is going to be played by Chris Hemsworth in a male counterpart of the Ghostbusters’ receptionist) with a Bluetooth headset on, working from an i-Pad. But I’m half expecting Feig to tweet a picture of him one day soon answering a clunky rotary dial telephone a la Annie Potts circa 1989.
I won’t know what this film will be like until next summer, so I’m basically doing that thing where a fan panics hysterically when presented just a smidgen of information. So I need to cool my jets. But in the interim, here are my five pre-requisites for this film, to make me a happy boy:
1) Women are fine; but make them into clumsy heroes, like our original Ghostbusters. But no slapstick. No Melissa McCarthy getting stuck in anything.
2) Don’t forget the fact that this is a supernatural film. Ghostbusters I and II were both actually pretty creepy. That ghostly librarian in the first film who just turned around and said ‘shhhhhh’. That’s creepy, man. Dana Barratt becoming possessed was frightening. Those horned dogs were threatening. Gozer the Gozerian was a God, from 6000BC. Dana’s apartment building was designed by a man claiming humanity was too sick to survive after World War I, as a gateway to bring about the end of the world. That’s massive. Ghostbusters II was about Vigo the Carpathian who died when he was poisoned, stabbed, shot, hanged, stretched, disemboweled, drawn, quartered and decapitated by his own people, and then returning to life in an oil painting. That’s gruesome. And what about when Dr. Janosz steals Oscar the baby dressed as a sort of insane flying nanny. Even that freaks me out. Hell, Slimer was even quite scary.
3) It’s becoming rarer and rarer to find a mainstream action movie, aimed at grownups and kids alike, that retains a solid line of truly adult intelligence. Case in point (and I’m sorry to keep banging on about it) but Jurassic World. As much as I loved the newest sequel, it didn’t quite have the tone that we got from the original. Yes there was the whole ‘playing God’ element to it with the uber-clever I-Rex, but something I loved about Jurassic Park I was the discussion that lead up to the action – that scene where they all sat around the conference table and discussed the ethics behind the park. Ghostbusters I was intelligent in the same way – these guys were scientists, they smoked cigarettes, they recited passages from the bible (“Revelations 7:12; and I looked, and he opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake. And the sun became as black as sack cloth, and the moon became as blood.”) This made the film more than just a movie about ghosts in New York. Do the same with the new one.
4) Gadgets. I’ve gone on about this enough in this blog post, so no need to say more. I really just hope their ghost-catching trap doesn’t come with a foot pedal, and actually comes with a handheld clicker or something.
5) Nods to the original. I don’t care who/what/where/when/how, I just want to see it.
Too much to ask, Paul Feig?