Ghostbusters: Kate McKinnon and crew can’t save Paul Feig’s shoddy screenplay

Erin Gilbert

The new Ghostbusters is finally in theaters, and the good news is that its first trailer (the most hated YouTube video of all time) was not an accurate predictor of the movie’s overall quality. The bad news is that Ghostbusters, like Batman v Superman, is a film that is done in by a shoddy screenplay. The cast does the best it can with writer-director Paul Fieg’s story (co-written by Katie Dippold), but no amount of improvisation can lift the product above “mildly amusing” status.

Ghostbusters Holtzmann

First off, anyone who has seen the original Ghostbusters will know how the story goes:

  • Female versions of Dr. Peter Venkman, Dr. Raymond Stantz,
    Dr. Egon Spengler, Winston Zeddmore form a band of misfit do-gooders who believe the city faces a spiritual threat of gargantuan proportions.
  • City officials treat them like second-class citizens.
  • The Ghostbusters piece together a mystery and stop a paranormal apocalypse by closing a portal to the netherworld.

Bill Murray Ghostbusters

With that being said, I think it is important to review Mr. Fieg’s movie by pretending the original film never existed. If the world were never introduced to Bill Murray’s Dr. Peter Venkman, then how would critics rate this movie?

They would say the following:

  • Kate McKinnon is a firecracker. Whether one likes or dislikes her weird tics throughout the movie, there is an energy and “it” factor to “Holtzmann” that a franchise can be built on.
  • The villain, Rowan (played by Neil Casey), is hardly defined — and that is putting it nicely. His motivations are not shown — viewers are told he was “bullied” when he was younger — and his actions during the movie’s climax make no sense. He literally controls a sea of cops and military personnel, but then chooses not to do the same to the four people who clearly pose a threat to his plans.
  • Chris Hemsworth’s character, Kevin, is so stupid that he is borderline retarded. Even if he is a parody of the “bimbo secretary,” I cannot remember a single female in similar roles who came across as Dumb and Dumber-stupid. Even desperate employers would not hire the man, no matter how handsome he may be.
  • There was obviously a Michael Jackson-inspired “Thriller” scene planned for the film that was cut from the finished product and wedged into the end credits. The problem is that aspects of the scene do show up in the film, which makes the audience go, “Huh? Why are the cops and the soldiers frozen in ‘Thriller’ poses? What the heck?”
  • Tension does not exist in this film because at no point does anyone feel as though the Ghostbusters might be in real danger. They become masters of new and experimental technology fairly quickly, and the one time they appear to be in trouble the camera angle shows them with the kind of smashed faces one might see in a Ghostbusters cartoon.

Ghostbusters Abby Patty

Ghostbusters is a movie that is worth checking out on Netflix if there is nothing else to do on a Friday night, but it is not worth full price at the movie theater. It is a movie that fails not because its cast is filled with women, but because its screenplay is sloppy.

Finally, it must be mentioned that Bill Murray’s cameo will be painful to watch for anyone who enjoyed the original films. It is hard to believe the man agreed to the part unless he has serious issues with Ivan Reitman. If Mr. Fieg or anyone else associated with this re-imagining thinks they were giving the 1984 Ghostbusters a respectful tip of the hat with Mr. Murray’s cameo, then the property is in worse hands than previously thought.

If you have a little kid who really wants to see ghosts busted, then you probably should buy a cheap ticket on an early Sunday. If you don’t have kids, then my suggestion is to wait until you can check it out for little to no cost. That isn’t an “I have a thing against women” thing, it’s an “I have a thing against paying full price for muddled writing” thing.

Did you see Ghostbusters this weekend? Did you refuse to see it? Either way, let me know what you think of Sony’s tentpole film in the comments section below.

Update: Here is my latest YouTube video on Ghostbusters and why the “Slime the Critics” strategy is important.

Bill Murray: Our Moonrise Kingdom Needs More Personal Responsibility

When someone speaks of personal responsibility on national television they open themselves up to cries of "coded" racism by Princeton University professors. So when Bill Murray did just that on CNBC the other day, it took people by surprise.

Bill Murray was on CNBC the other day, and the famous comedian set off alarm bells in liberal circles everywhere when he dared to speak of “personal responsibility.” Doesn’t Bill know that, according to Princeton’s African American Studies professor, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, that he’s using racist “code” language? Regardless, he went there:

CNBC Host: Do you have…a view on this country and what we need to do and where we are in time?

MURRAY: I think we ought to be personally responsible. I think if you can take care of yourself and then maybe take care of someone else then that’s sort of how you’re supposed to live. It’s not a question of asking other people for help or being rescued or anything like that. I think we’ve sort of gotten used to someone looking out for us, and I don’t think any other person is necessarily going to be counted on to look out for us. I think there are only so many people that can take care of themselves and can take care of other people, and the rest of the people—they’re useful in terms of compost for the whole planet—but there are just certain people who are going to go up, and certain people that are going to stay the same, and certain people who are going to drop. So, you’d like to be that person who is going to elevate. And if you can do that you can take care of yourself, and if you’re really good enough you should be able to take care of about this many [ the panel of four ] people.

CNBC HOST: Are you saying that America was founded on individualism, as opposed to Europe? Are you making a contrast—

MURRAY: This country really is a pioneer country. We forget the kind of discipline they had to have to get from—occasionally it seeps in that they came in wagons from Illinois to Oregon or whatever it was. That they came in wagons and the wheels broke, and you see it. The [researchers say], “Gee, that must have been hard for those women to push that wagon up the mountain.” And that’s what they had to do.  There was no option but to do it yourself, to have your own personal responsibility. There is no turning back. This is your life. As we say to one of my brothers, “This is your life. This is not a dress rehearsal.”

Bravo, Bill. He makes incredibly lucid points, which seldom happens with Hollywood stars. I highly suggest watching the entire interview, if for no other reason than to see just how carefully Bill treads. He seems to be a very smart man, and throughout the entire interview you can see him very delicately addressing the issues, as if he knows all of Hollywood is watching. Conservatives in the entertainment industry—or even those with tinctures of conservatism—need to lay their cards on the table with a pitter-patter, while “comedians” (I use the term loosely) like Rosanne Barr or Joy Behar get to blurt out liberal brain-farts without a care in the world.

Regardless of Bill Murray’s voting patterns (he may very well be a Democrat), it’s obvious that he at least realizes just how far of a departure the country has made from its founding. Whereas we once road rickety wagons across the Great Plains to realize our dreams, we now have kids who are on their parent’s health care coverage until age 26 complaining about how hard things are. We’re at an all time low and we don’t even realize it because our friends overseas are in an even sorrier state of affairs.

While I commend Bill Murray for even broaching the subject of personal responsibility when asked about his worldview, I can’t help but find it sad that in this time and place common sense earns a pat on the back. Since I probably won’t run across Murray in public anytime soon, I’ll just check him out in Moonrise Kingdom on opening night.