Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Ghostbusters, like so many great franchise of the past, will get its chance to shine in the sun again it seems.

My reaction to an all female cast? Mixed.

It’s not for the reason you think. It’s not that I am in any way opposed to the idea of female Ghostbusters or even to a science-fiction movie that might potentially appeal to a female audience a bit more than a male one. See, it all has to do with the kind of movie the people making this reboot want to make (and if it even is a reboot and not a sequel disguised as a reboot as the kids are calling it these days).

I guess the thing that has made Ghostbusters unique is also part of why it’s been stuck in development hell for so many years. The thing is, it turned out to be a really fun, exciting, action-adventure movie. And the fanbase around it for many, many years has worshipped that aspect of Ghostbusters. The 80’s cartoon show, the IDW comics and even the recent video game (which I actually really enjoyed and sort of accept as the third movie Ghostbusters deserved in its own right) all expand the quirky, strange, but heroic fantasy of the Ghostbusters fighting evil. Or at least, paranormal phenomenon that would interfere with our life in New York city.

Now, here’s the thing. I’m not entirely sure that the original intention behind Ghostbusters was to be a memorable science-fiction movie in its own right. Or at least, the intention wasn’t for it to be that alone. We kind of forget, but Ghostbusters was kind of like Saturday Night Live: The Movie for its time. Yes, SNL cast had had their forays into the big screen before, but the cast was BIG for this movie. Some of what Ghostbusters seemed to be focused on was almost parodying big, 80’s action-adventures. The intention of Ghostbusters was to be funny first and foremost. It was sort of meant to straddle the line between exciting and hysterical (which it did so well that it endeared it to an entire generation).

I sort of think the original vision of the movie was meant to appeal to people who lived in New York City and appreciated modern humor. It just incidentally also happened to be a great science-fiction movie that became entrenched in the hearts and minds of kids and pop fiction dorks. So I guess the movie I was always hoping for would be emphasizing the fantasy of Ghostbusters. I wanted to find out what happened to Peter, Ray, Egon, Winston and Janine. Did they go on to form an international business? Did they go out of business?

I always sort of imagined a third installment might feature a co-ed cast who happen to make up one of the Ghostbusters' many new franchises (maybe they’re Ghostbusters San Francisco or Ghostbusters DC, while the original four teach science and business courses at a Ghostbusters University in New York City or something like that). The vision of the movie is to revisit the story from the previous two movies (yeah, Ghostbusters 2 happened and maybe it wasn’t quite as sharp as the first but it had its moments, so just deal).

But that’s the thing with this cast: it seems to me an all-female cast, with these women in particular, is meant to recapture the original spirit of the movie being funny. That’s what it strikes me as the focus, so that four women can bring a new kind of chemistry to the movie that harkens back to the original funny chemistry between the four men who starred in this movie years ago. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing! And I’m not even saying that they can’t also revisit the elements of fantasy that we loved about Ghostbusters. I’m just saying that seems, to me, to be the purpose behind this reboot. To try to find a way to rebuild from the ground up the funny part of Ghostbusters and maybe package it in a form that’s digestible to a modern audience.

The only downside--if that is the goal--is that we end up imagining it might lead them far and away from the original story of the Ghostbusters that we came to love and sort of like to think of as this fan canon the way we do with any other science-fiction movie or show. We end up worried that if the focus is on being funny in a new way that the people directing and writing it might lose sight of the fantasy part of Ghostbusters that we loved or even--gasp--change the details of what we loved. I guess my point is, love or it leave it, this casting move is sort of designed to reclaim the original spirit and intent of Ghostbusters to begin with. To be funny and not to necessarily construct a universe to live in (or at least, at a glance without further details, that’s what it seems like is happening). It might not be what you imagined a third movie would be, but you have to at least concede the point I’m making in that sense, right? Does that make sense?

That being said, we don’t know what the details of the script will be. It seems to me that the term reboot is used very liberally these days. I don’t know if all that has come before in Ghostbusters will be revisited or done away with although I’m sure there’s room for them to keep the story around. So I think what I’m saying is I’m not exactly sure what the end product will look like, but whether it’s true to Ghostbusters canon or not it could still be a good movie. We just aren’t totally sure what movie we’ll be watching is yet.


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