Tuesday, July 19, 2016

NnerdInTheBasement And Riley Sailer Discuss Ghostbusters Jokes, Ghost, Scares And Who Should Be In The Sequel

In this piece, NerdInTheBasement and Riley Sailer have a back-and-forth on their thoughts on Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters.

NerdInTheBasement: To get things started, let’s each say our thoughts on the movie in a brief concise manner. As my hyperbole laden review clearly states, I was a big fan of the movie. It’s not without its flaws (namely in editing that’s frequently distractingly subpar and some cameos that don’t add much to the overall movie) of course, but I honestly had a blast with it. The four leads especially were firing on all cylinders and I loved how they each brought a different flavor to the movie. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy have a dynamic that really does convey the idea that they’ve been friends for ages, Leslie Jones makes for a great audience surrogate in the midst of all this supernatural chaos and Kate McKinnon is extraordinary as the off-kilter weapons expert. They’re all awesome to watch and so is the movie they’re headling.

Your thoughts on the movie Riley?

Riley: Well I thought Zach Woods was dead for a few minutes after the opening so I immediately hated it but then he turned up just fine so I had to go back to being fair. It’s interesting, I’ve stated elsewhere that I have found myself in an awkward position in regards to Paul Feig’s movies, because as a female writer looking for female representation on film I certainly appreciate his movies more than I actually like any of them. That being said, this Ghostbusters reboot has actually managed to sustain the notion that I do believe each of his movies are better than the last one, even if it is on a scale of sliding mediocrity. I did not hate this movie, but I certainly didn’t love it, and considering the ridiculous amount of controversy surrounding this movie, it’s been a whole lotta hoopla for a movie that was pretty average in my book. However, by the climax, the foursome did win me over as a team and I would actually watch another movie with these new Ghostbusters so long as Paul Feig stays far, far, far away from the script because his comedy is just terrible.

I see most people singling out Kate McKinnon, but you know what? I’m gonna hand it to Melissa McCarthy, her enthusiasm was infectious and really carried the movie for me (and we all know how I feel about most of her movies).

But can we talk about Chris Hemsworth and the climax? It felt like a lot of non-starters were going on there. Particularly with the villain himself.

NerdInTheBasement: See, I’d heard a lot of complaints about Rowan prior to me seeing the movie and I was surprised by how much I liked him, y’know? He isn’t an “all-time great baddie”, but he serves his role in the plot well enough, I like the design of his final ghost form (particularly how the texture of his skin looks like a bedsheet), and fellow Solute writer Anthony Pizzo pointed out to me that he’s kinda like Kylo Ren in that he’s a more modern day interpretation of how dangerous white guys who feel the world has been too “overly unfair” to them and want revenge can be.

Yeah, there’s one or two elements of the climax that do feel like they come out of nowhere (why are the Army guys and the two FBI agents suck in a disco dance move namely as well as the abrupt appearance of the ghost parade floats). What are some elements you’re talking about specifically?

Riley: The way Rowan spoke reminded me of the Key and Peele sketch about the continental breakfast, which was rather amusing. But I’m more talking about the entire possession sequences and the ultimate uselessness of them. He possesses Kevin and Abby, but just as quickly disposes of them. I understand he needed to get his machine working again, but there didn’t seem to be any comedic payoff. Which I suppose underlines the major problem I had with the script: it’s rather wonky with the comedy and horror elements. The parade floats in theory are a great idea, and the design reminded me of the second live-action Scooby Doo movie of all things, but to what end? I liked the design of the ghosts and the mayhem they were causing, I guess I could have used more of that. At the risk of comparing this movie with the original I’d have to say that I appreciated the unexplained supernatural element of the first movie and the presence of Zuul over some angry dude in a basement.

Speaking of which let’s talk about those cameos. They sure happened.

NerdInTheBasement:As a sidenote, I took Rowan possessing Kevin as a way to hurt Abby and her fellow Ghostbusters on a personal level (that’s the same reason he possessed Abby a few minutes prior) while also getting to enjoy living in a more muscular and physically imposing human frame.

The cameos were a mixed bag for sure. Sigourney Weaver’s bit in the credits? Awesome. Ernie Hudson even had a clever bit at the end. But Bill Murray’s second appearence (after a solid enough cameo as a Ghost skeptic on a news program) was super extraneous, Dan Aykroyd’s went on too long and why was Ozzy Osburne in this again? Why did his bit seem like it came from another movie entirely? I appreciate the crew wanting to nod to the past, but the cameos (along with the sometimes weird editing) were the weakest part of the movie for me.

Riley: You know, I think I’m gonna chalk a lot of this up to the script being poorly written. On the one hand, the main four characters are solid, it’s everything around them that doesn’t work. So by using Kevin as a means to “take things personally” fell flat for me because while I heard them saying that they liked him and cared about him, nothing in the movie really supplied the connection that would make me think that Kevin was worth something to them. The bit when he shows up with his Ghostbusters costume is adorable, but it’s immediately interrupted by the possession. Structurally the movie’s a mess, it’s very floaty with the pacing and it felt like the entire film took place over the course of four days when in actuality it had to have been several weeks. (How on earth could Holtzman make all those inventions in what felt like a period of two minutes from scene to scene?)

NerdInTheBasement: To be fair on your point about them caring about Kevin, there is a really funny bit during the climax where Abbey mentions how they like Kevin “despite his many, many, many  flaws”, which honestly worked perfectly fine for me in terms of establishing their emotional connection to Kevin. They do like him well enough (he is the one who came to apply for the secretary job when their business was in its infancy), despite, y’know, him not being the shaprest knife in the drawer. Plus, I’m sure they’d be trying to protect anyone, whether they knew that person or not, who just got possessed by a ghost.

And you are doubting the power of Kate McKinnon?? She could build a horde of weapons in mere minutes if she wanted to, so great is the strength of McKinnon!

Riley: I do believe the Internet will be filled with gifs of her licking her ghost guns for the remainder of time, and rightfully so. Because that moment was awesome.

NerdInTheBasement: Oh yeah, her solo action scene? Sooooo awesome.

Riley: The more the group pulled out their proton packs with confidence, the more I felt confident about them being able to pull this whole thing off. Which is great, that’s some natural progression that works really well for the movie. And like I said I understand the reasoning behind everything and the explanations, it’s just a matter of me not liking the script very much but not so much that I was offended by it. I will admit the over-explaining of a lot of the jokes did in fact ruin the jokes for me. It’s a matter of subtly. I think when the movie is subtle it works, the “Ghost Girl” nickname for example wasn’t dwelled on which made it an effective backstory, but hearing Kristen Wiig continuously drool over Chris Hemsworth because he’s hot and her telling us that he’s hot, eh not so much.

But obviously comedy is subjective. Now I know you’re a novice on the horror genre, but one thing that I love about the original Ghostbusters is that while being a comedy the aesthetics lie in the horror genre. What did you think of the ghosts and spooks? What’d you think of Slimer? I actually thought that bit was really funny.

NerdInTheBasement: I really liked the ghosts in this movie! They had super fun designs, full of bright colors and the level of variety among them (some were executed prisoners, others pilgrims, still others are dragons) added a nice level of unpredictability to the proceedings. And the scares were well-handled too, I was surprised by how well-balanced they were with the comedic elements. I have a hunch that, for the youngsters in this generation that see this movie when they’re under 8 or so, this movie and it’s couple of scary moments will be looked back on in the same vein that The Never-Ending Story and the like were for past generations.

As for Slimer, his brief appearance was fun, I loved him driving around with Mrs. Slimer (I guess that’s her name) and Melissa McCarthy observing that “that thing is having the time of his life”.

Now, one last question to close out the proceedings; which actor would you want to see join the Ghostbusters in a prospective sequel? Me, I’d love to see Jessica Chastain and Rachel Bloom strap on proton-packs and join in the fun.

Riley: I'll admit it took me until sitting down in the theater to watch the movie to convince me that the cast here was going to work for me. There are just so many fantastic actresses who could play Ghostbusters that no matter who they chose I would want someone else to put on the proton packs. However, if I had to pick I think I would love to see Sandra Bullock come back because she and McCarthy were great together in The Heat. And Kristen Schaal. Because why was she not in this movie to begin with?

On a final note I would just like to say, the anger and "controversy" surrounding the new Ghostbusters is completely unwarranted. This movie, flaws and positives combined is fine. These women were great. But I can't even somewhat muster any reason as to why this movie would receive such vitriol. Everyone came away from Jurassic World with an awful taste in their mouth, and I confess that I didn't care enough to really get riled up about it but at least I understand why everyone hated it. Ghostbusters though? No. Nothing to hate here. Just some ladies having fun and catching ghosts.

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