Monday Morning Critic – On Why Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters Remake Could Be Something Profound In Cinematic History

MMC

The big news of last week was the final nail in the coffin of Dan Aykroyd’s Ghostbusters 3 as a remake of the ‘80s classic is coming instead of the long gestating sequel. Paul Feig’s been tapped and he’ll be doing something very interesting with it. He’s going to scrap any allusions of trying to bring back the original cast and is instead going with an all-female cast of female actresses in fairly iconic roles formerly inhabited by Bill Murray, Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson. While no one is attached to it so far, or at least has been announced as such, it’s a fairly substantial departure as Ackroyd’s dream of getting one more ride into the spotlight has ended.

Over three years ago I wrote on it and with the passing of Harold Ramis it felt like the dream of one more ride at the top for Aykroyd and company was officially dead. Murray wanted no part in it for obvious reasons; he moved on once he left comedy behind. With his good friend gone, Murray probably intimated to Sony that Ramis’s death coupled with Ivan Reitman leaving for good meant he was gone. He wasn’t going to come back to just hang out with Hudson and Aykroyd, even if he was contractually obligated to.

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Throw in the fact that I think Sony didn’t want the hassle of getting Murray on board and you have the perfect setup for a brand new take with a brand new cast. Bill Murray isn’t a big enough star anymore, especially in a franchise that’ll have gone the better part of thirty years since being in theatres, and his desire to not do another Ghostbusters film was the biggest reason why a third film in the franchise never happened. He owns part of the rights and had to sign off for the threequel to happen, hence why it never happened unless it was on his stringent terms. It’s why the closest they got to his blessing was killing him off in the first reel on a script that was never made.

Sony probably said “here’s a bunch of money and you don’t have to be involved” for him to give his blessing to reboot it all, which he did after the check cashed.

With the film starting out new, as well, they can safely walk away from Aykroyd and Hudson needing to be in the franchise in any capacity. Sony has a shot at starting out completely new for a new generation without the baggage of the old Ghostbusters crew. And that’s exactly what Murray, Aykroyd and Hudson being in this film would be: baggage. And don’t kid yourself, either. The further the three are from the film’s production the better off we all will be for it.

They don’t mean much to the current crop of cinemagoers that make up the bulk of ticket sales in North America, just to the older vanguard that grew up with the original franchise, and Sony is allowing Feig the ultimate opportunity to start out fresh. It’s kind of impressive they’re giving him enough leeway to rebrand this as a female-centric franchise and aren’t going to be insulting about it.

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Lionsgate is looking at an all female Expendables type, except kind of insulting as the gals post as high class call girls to save the day. After the colossal failure of Expendables 3 one can imagine that a spin off franchise will be a harder sell, of course, but Sony is topping them in every conceivable manner by developing a franchise for women that isn’t completely insulting to their intelligence. I think it’s an awful idea based on the people involved, if only because none of them were actually stars in the first place, but Feig’s concept intrigues me on every conceivable level.

Feig is no stranger to developing ideas with strong female casts, even if both Bridesmaids and The Heat were both films that were fairly terrible, but Ghostbusters at its heart lends itself to something interesting. In a world where the paranormal is a staple of television series, and Paranormal Activity is a fairly regular Halloween staple, a comedy about ghosts and whatnot seems appropriate. With enough people stupid enough to believe in or pay psychic mediums, among others, a film taking a more comedic aspect to it has a place in modern cinema. In a world where suckers en masse believe in cold reading as “psychic powers,” and the seriousness of the paranormal in cinema as a whole as of late, we need a good comedy to give it a kick in the pants.

So Feig, who has experience in comedy and ensemble films, is arguably the right guy for this particular vision. At its heart both The Heat and Bridesmaids had enough to them to see his vision. I wasn’t a fan of either but one can see the big picture; I’d argue that Bridesmaids would’ve worked as more drama than comedy (and with at least an hour of material taken out) and that The Heatwould’ve worked more effectively with less Melissa McCarthy doing a very bad Danny McBride impression.

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Feig does have that rare ability to connect with a female audience, which is why a female Ghostbusters film is interesting on its face. You have a director who has the ability to understand his audience being tasked with a great concept, of paranormal investigator types who discover that the paranormal is real, and potentially a career maker for a handful of actresses. Now is an interesting moment in time because Feig has the ability to take the film in any number of ways. He has the ability to bring in a group of actresses who he he’s been successful with before. Hollywood loves success and there’s a potential for a franchise seemingly unprecedented in Hollywood right now.

We could be looking at the first ensemble franchise for the summer blockbuster season that isn’t reliant on male stars.

It’s something special that we’re potentially looking at Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne and Maya Rudolph stepping into some fairly legendary shoes for what’s going to be a summer blockbuster. This is going to be a film with $1-200 million behind it in budget alone, as this is an effects laden property, and all the usual rules for Hollywood are being thrown out. That’s something profound in a world where the average summer blockbuster normally features women in secondary roles.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

Mike Noyes goes old school for Godzilla stuffs.

What would Travis Leamons do if he sang out of tune? He’d stand up and turn on this DVD.

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

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This week’s DVD – Team America: World Police

This is one of those films that I had mixed feelings on in theatres, and then on DVD a short while later. It has so much awful and so much good in it that it’s hard to really find a bead on it. I popped it in this weekend, as I’m still conflicted and wanted to see if there’s potentially a resolution (and a firm rating) I can throw onto it.

Simple premise. Team America saves the day and is trying to prevent Kim Jong Il from detonating WMDs across the globe. It’s up to Gary (Trey Parker), an actor recruited to infiltrate terrorists from Chechnya to help save the day.

The thing about the film is that it’s profoundly frustrating to watch. There are so many brilliant moments, and the film captures and ruthlessly parodies everything about the big summer blockbuster rote perfect. It works even more on that level now, with the summer blockbuster season becoming much more homogenized than ever before, as the film is still spot on in so much that it’s incredibly funny. Throw in some great bits, including cinema’s best puppet sex scene ever, and this is always one of those films I think I should love.

But I just can’t.

There are just so much abjectly terrible moments in the film that it feels fairly mediocre by the end. It’s one you can throw and watch … but I find myself skipping huge swathes of it because it’s so awful. It’s bi-polar as a film; some moments are so extraordinarily funny and huge chunks are so profoundly not that I’m still not sure, many years after this was released, on how to properly rate it. I really want to love it … but I can marginally like.

Unsure of a recommendation

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

The Best of Me – A Nicholas Sparks film. Someone gets cancer and/or dies, I think.

Skip It – NEXT.

The Book of Life (2014) – An animated tale about Halloween shenanigans.

Skip It – Fox Animation is usually miss or miss.

Fury (2014) – Brad Pitt is in a tank during World War 2, killing Nazis.

See It – I remember the Israeli film Lebanon and wondered what an American film maker would do with a similar concept about tankers. This could be an American Das Boot … or it could be abjectly terrible. Either way it looks interesting on the surface.

Dear White People – A satirical comedy about race relations in modern day America’s college campuses.

See It – It’s got a brilliant trailer and has that subversively good sort of feel to it.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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