‘Ocean’s Ocho’: Gender parity not reached until girls believe they too can knock off casinos

Sandra Bullock

One would think that after the box-office disaster known as Ghostbusters that Hollywood would think twice about forcing gender-swaps of beloved classics on the public. As Warner Bros’ decision to move forward with Ocean’s Ocho shows, that is not the case.

Entertainment websites confirmed Wednesday that Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafin, Rihanna, are taking part in yet another remake of 1960’s Ocean’s 11 and its Clooney-led team of 2001. The public is already being assured that a Ghostbusters-like debacle is not in the works, but is that really true?

The Hollywood Reporter wrote Thursday:

Though Warner Bros. has greenlit an all-female Ocean’s Eleven spinoff just weeks after an all-female Ghostbusters became a major money loser for Sony, the comparisons should end there.

The most important distinction between the two films is the size of each project’s budget. Sources say Warners will make the Ocean’s reboot, which is currently titled Ocean’s Ocho, for around $70 million, about $80 million less than Ghostbusters’ reported budget of $150 million.

Within minutes of news breaking that Warners was moving forward with its Ocean’s incarnation — headed up by Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway and involving a heist at New York’s Metropolitan Museum — a predictable social media backlash began, with fans invoking the Ghostbusters disappointment. But a project insider insists that the Ocean’s franchise is better poised for the gender swap than Ghostbusters given that it is a frothy heist film aimed at adults rather than a fanboy-skewing action property with supernatural elements based on a movie that some now consider sacrosanct. After all, the 2001 Ocean’s Eleven, with George Clooney at the center of the caper, was itself a remake of the similarly titled 1960 movie starring Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack pals.

Translation: Move along, move along. Nothing to see here.

Poor THR reporter Tatiana Siegel probably has no idea how a.) wrong, and b.) insulting she happens to be with her analysis of the Ghostbusters backlash.

Note: The same adults who grew up with the original Ghostbusters — the people Ms. Siegel calls “fan-boys” — are the same adults who saw Oceans 11 in 2001, Oceans 12 in 2004, and Oceans 13 in 2007. Millions of people who saw the original Ghostbusters do not consider it “sacrosanct” — they simply don’t like shameless cash-grabs by Hollywood producers.

The fact that writers like Ms. Siegel still do not get it (or perhaps do understand but warp the truth on purpose), is an indicator that history will repeat itself.

It should be noted that a smaller budget will go a long way towards ensuring profitability for the studio. Likewise, having Steven Soderbergh involved can only be a good thing. The problem, however, is that men generally do not want to see women in heist films just as women would not run to the theater to see Jason Statham in a gender-swapped remake of Pretty Woman.

Guys wanted to be Brad Pitt or George Clooney when Oceans 11 came out — and women wanted to be with them.

Guys do not want to be Cate Blanchett or Anne Hathaway, and they are not fantasizing about either of them these days.

Danny Ocean appealed to guys because he is the total package — suave, intelligent, funny, and able to handle himself in a fight if the heist starts to fall apart. An all-female cast loses the physical aspect required for most guys to get excited about a ring-leader, and therefore their interest in seeing the film is immediately taken down a notch.

A better time to make Ocean’s Ocho would have been 2005, when Angelina Jolie was at the top of her game.

Imagine the cast: Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, Rebecca Romijn, Halle Berry, Catherine Zeta Jones, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Salma Hayek.

That would get men in the seats.

Intelligence? Check. Physicality? Check. Beauty? Check. Humor? Check. Star power? Check? Ties to Clooney’s team? Check. Diversity (for those obsessed about diversity)? Check.

In short, I hope Ocean’s Ocho turns out to be a good movie, but it already feels like a mandated project than something that needs to happen. If it bombs, then it won’t be because of sexist “fan-boys.” Audiences are simply tired of being force-fed partisan pander-projects and then demonized for it when they stay home on opening weekend.

Remember: We have not reached full gender-parity until little girls grow up to believe that they too are just as capable of knocking off casinos as the big boys!

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‘Ghostbusters’ endorses Hillary Clinton; Sony opts for Orwellian Memory Hole after backlash

Ghostbusters is the gift that keeps on giving. This week Sony decided to get so weirdly political that it allowed the official Ghostbusters account to give Hillary Clinton’s campaign an endorsement with the #ImWithHer hashtag on Twitter. The company then went full-1984 and flushed the tweet down the Memory Hole when the Internet called the company out on its actions.

Imagine a world where every company acts like Sony’s Paul Feig. You would have Frosted Flakes commercials along the lines of, “They’re grrrrrrrrreat! (for Republicans).”

Perhaps you would have Schick razor commercials “for him” that are really “with her,” (i.e., Hillary Clinton). The possibilities are endless.

Check out the video below to see how this decision totally undercuts the claim that Ghostbusters was not made for politically correct reasons, and why Sony’s Orwellian actions afterward are important to remember.

‘Wonder Woman’ trailer reaction exposes intellectual bankruptcy of Paul Feig on ‘Ghostbusters’ critics

The new Wonder Woman trailer came out on Saturday and the reaction has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Facebook feeds, Twitter streams, and YouTube videos exploded with excitement at the product. What has missing over the last 24 hours is someone who points out the obvious: Paul Feig’s “slime Ghostbusters critics as sexist” strategy only demonstrated his intellectually bankruptcy.

There are not armies of men (at least in western nations) who have a problem with seeing strong women on film. That was a lie meant to divide people for Sony’s benefit.

The Wonder Woman trailer wraps a giant “lasso of truth” around Mr. Feig’s desperate attempt to save his shoddy product. You cannot get any more “girl power” than Wonder Woman, and every time a shameless Hollywood producer tries play the sexist card in the future they should be punched in the face with the collective fist of fan-approval for Wonder Woman.

Milo Yiannopoulos’ Twitter ban exposes selective rules enforcement

Twitter has given conservative “provocateur” Milo Yiannopoulos a lifetime ban. The reason: Some of his followers sent Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones racist messages. Given that your friendly neighborhood blogger was once banned from Twitter after calling out the company for not punishing the guy who threatened to kill me, I figured this story might be worth a YouTube video.

Check out the video below and let me know what you think of Milo, Twitter’s selective enforcement of its own code of conduct, online trolls, and Ms. Jones. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Update: Twitter refused to verify my account despite the fact that I’ve worked with a major newspaper in Washington, D.C., for years. Classic!

Twitter verify

Ghostbusters: Why Sony’s ‘Slime the Critics’ strategy is important

Slimer

Ghostbusters as a film is mostly forgettable, but the politics that have surrounded Sony’s project for months are something that should stay at the forefront of fans’ minds for a long time. Paul Feig and those connected with the project determined that a “Slime the Critics” strategy would pay off when it was clear that a $150 million investment was in big trouble — and it paid off. Reviewers were clearly afraid of being labeled sexists, and evidence of that is available on Rotten Tomatoes, YouTube, and across the internet.

Although I reviewed the movie opening weekend, my newest YouTube video discusses Sony’s small victory in terms of securing good reviews from political allies and moving the need in its direction with nice guys who have no desire to wade into gender politics.

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.

Aykroyd shills for female ‘Ghostbusters,’ spinmeisters never mention executive producer role

 

Dan Aykroyd 1 Facebook

The new Ghostbusters movie needs all the good press it can get, which is why Dan Aykroyd went into full shill mode on Tuesday.

“As originator of the original: Saw test screening of new movie. Apart from brilliant, genuine performances from the cast both female and male, it has more laughs and more scares than the first 2 films plus Bill Murray is in it! As one of millions of man-fans and Ray Stantz, I’m paying to see that and bringing all my friends!” the original Ghostbuster wrote on Facebook.

Translation: Just go see the movie, “man-fans,” and don’t be annoyed that I too am now getting gender-crazy to promote this movie.

Given that Mr. Aykroyd is an executive producer on the movie, it is understandable that he would jump through hoops to fill seats on July 15.

Dan Aykroyd

What is not appropriate, however, is when websites like Superhero Hype trumpet his transparent cries for good press without mentioning that he is the movie’s executive producer.

The website reported:

As storms continue to brew regarding the new Ghostbusters film, there is one person who has put a line in the sand and is backing up the film: series creator Dan Aykroyd. The writer of both the 1984 film and its 1989 sequel took to his Facebook page to reveal he saw an early cut of the film and provided a reaction. …

“As originator of the original: Saw test screening of new movie. Apart from brilliant, genuine performances from the cast both female and male, it has more laughs and more scares than the first 2 films plus Bill Murray is in it! As one of millions of man-fans and Ray Stantz, I’m paying to see that and bringing all my friends!”

The new Ghostbusters film sees Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy as scientists Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, respectively. Gilbert is a particle physicist while Yates, Gilbert’s close friend, is an expert in the paranormal. As ghost sightings ramp up, they team with Kate McKinnon‘s Jillian Holtzmann, a nuclear engineer who winds up creating the team’s tech. Leslie Jones‘ Patty Tolan, then, is the team’s everyman character who winds up playing an important role connected to an early supernatural encounter. …

Yes, Superhero Hype, it makes total sense for the executive producer to put a “line in the sand” when it comes to promoting his project. The only time an executive producer’s praise for his own movie could be interpreted as newsworthy would be if someone stripped that highly relevant bit of information out of the reporting.

The reason why “storms continue to brew” for Ghostbusters is because everyone associated with the project has gone out of their way to make it about gender and media outlets like Superhero Hype have become professional spinmeisters.

Does any “man-fan” in his right mind honestly believe this Ghostbusters film has “more laughs and more scares than the first two films”? Of course not. The statement is so ridiculous that one can’t help but wonder if Dan Aykroyd is the Trojan Horse equivalent of Hydra Captain America.

Note to Ghostbusters hacks everywhere: Give it up. The internet exists. It only takes one moment for people to expose deceptive reporting, and every time you do it the last remaining shreds of your credibility fray a little bit more.

Here now, without further ado, is the trailer for the movie Dan Aykroyd claims has “more laughs” than the original Ghostbusters films — combined.

Hillary Clinton pairing up with all-female ‘Ghostbusters’ cast … because pandering

Ghostbusters 2016

Imagine a scenario in 2012 where Mitt Romney decided to appear on Jimmy Kimmel with the cast of The Expendables 2. Jimmy then tweeted, “The entire cast of The Expendables is here next week and now @MittRomney is coming, too! Get your Man Cards ready.”

You would probably lose a ton of respect for Mr. Romney for a.) blatantly pandering to a certain demographic of men, and b.) doing so when nothing about him says “cigar chomping, beer-chugging dude.”

Now consider the following tweet from Ellen DeGeneres on Tuesday:

“The entire cast of Ghostbusters is here next week and now @HillaryClinton is coming, too! Get your Woman Cards ready.”

Sad, isn’t it? It screams, “Vote for Hillary because she’s a woman. Seriously. I mean it.”

Ellen DeGeneres Hillary Clinton Ghostbusters

The weird thing about Mrs. Clinton’s May 25 appearance with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones is that no one has apparently warned her: Ghostbusters is literally the most reviled movie trailer in YouTube’s history.

The Hollywood Reporter covered the infamous milestone April 30:

Not only does it have the most dislikes for a trailer on the social platform, but it also makes the top 25 most disliked videos overall.

Things are not boding well for director Paul Feig’s upcoming Ghostbusters based on the film’s first official trailer on YouTube.

Released March 3, the trailer, viewed 29.2 million times and counting, is the most disliked movie trailer in YouTube history, according to “MyTop100Videos” channel’s “Most Disliked Videos” list that was last updated April 16.

Mrs. Clinton, a pale political imitation of her husband, will link herself with a cast that will likely be a pale imitation of the original Ghostbusters. It’s the kind of pandering that only a desperate candidate would resort to because someone who was confident would want the stage all to herself.

If Hillary Clinton were confident that she represented the majority of women, then there would be no need for “Get your Woman Card ready” tweets by Ellen DeGeneres.

If Hillary Clinton were running a smooth campaign, then the cast of Ghostbusters would appear the next day and talk about her for most of the interview.

If Hillary Clinton had decent political instincts, then she would not appear with any cast that would allow critics a segue into discussions about “ghosts” that haunt the former secretary of state at night.

Again, I would be highly insulted if a male candidate showed up on a talk show with a bunch of “manly men” as guests because … “bros before hoes in the voting booth, bro!” I can only hope that millions of intelligent women feel the same way about the Clinton campaign’s shameless efforts with female voters.

PC ‘Ghostbusters’ can’t even get social justice right: Lone black star not a scientist

Ghostbusters 2016

The new Ghostbusters movie is something of an obsession with the “social justice” crowd, which makes one of the big reveals from its trailer rather humorous. Director Paul Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold had a $150 million budget — along with the comedic chops of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon an Leslie Jones to work with — but yet the lone black star still ended up the one character who would probably mistake Isaac Newton for the slightly-disgusting (yet still irresistible) fig treats by Nabisco.

Sony Studios just told its small army of social justice recruits that its white stars will be engineers and quantum physicists, but its black star is a NYC subway-booth worker who gets to slap around McCarthy like Marvel Studio’s Hulk on Loki.

I for one do not particularly care what character Leslie Jones plays or what her occupation happens to be — but I’m smart enough to know that an ill-conceived movie that leans on politically correct moviegoers for support should have thought about the racial message its story sends. True, Ernie Hudson’s Winston Zeddemore was not a scientist (my buddy thinks he will be Jones’ uncle) but on almost every level this movie looks like it will miss the mark.

Ghostbusters trailer proton pack

The problem with this Ghostbusters is that it’s trying to re-capture a moment in time that does not exist. It would be like attempting to make out with an old girlfriend you amicably broke up with years ago. You’re going through the motions, but there is just no feeling there because all of your good times were in the past and you’ve moved on. She’s changed in ways that are just bizarre to you and it all feels awkward. You would just think, “What is this? Why is this even happening? This isn’t right.”

The new Ghostbusters is not a re-boot, but yet it seeks to capitalize on fans who would generally be exited for a proper re-boot. In reality it is a re-imagining, which is why older fans react to Feig’s hat-tips to the original with a wince. Everything that Star Wars: The Force Awakens did right in regards to recapturing what made the original trilogy great, the new Ghostbusters does wrong in relation to its counterpart.

Oddly enough, the tagline from the original movie — “Who you gonna call?” — fits with what seems to have happened when producers at Sony mandated the film into existence.

The cast does not particularly look inspired; it looks like they were merely hired to do a job and collect a paycheck. “Hey, you’re funny. We need to make this movie and nobody wants it done. But we need to do it because of girl-power and diversity. And stuff. Can you do it?”

Zeddemore says in the original: “If there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say.” Now it appears the cast replied to Sony’s proposal with, “If there’s a steady paycheck, I’ll social justice anything you want me to social justice.”

It’s just too bad they forgot about social-justicing Jones’ character, Patty Tolan. Maybe they can blame it on the ghosts.

Paul Feig should have listened to his own advice on all-female ‘Ghostbusters’ and walked away

GhostbustersThe world is getting an all-female Ghostbusters film that apparently doesn’t even take place in the same universe as the original movies. Why is it still called Ghostbusters then? Good question. Paul Feig of Bridesmaids and The Heat fame is taking on the project, but at the end of the day he would have been wise to take his own advice…

Entertainment Weekly reported Oct. 8:

PAUL FEIG: I had been contacted by Sony and Ivan a number of months ago when I was in Budapest shooting my new movie Spy. But I was like, I don’t know if I want to take that on because the first two are such classics and just because of how do you do it? Who do you bring in now that Harold’s gone? I know that Bill didn’t want to do it and I love Dan, but it was just like I don’t know how to do it. Then I had lunch with [Sony Pictures co-chairman] Amy Pascal when I got back to town. She was just saying, gosh, nobody wants to do this. I said, yeah, it’s really hard to take that on, especially since it’s 25 years later. how do you come back into a world that’s had these ghosts and all this? It just felt too difficult. How do you do it and not screw it up?

Amy Pascal should have taken the fact that no one wanted to touch Ghostbusters as a clue that maybe it shouldn’t be done. Paul Feig’s gut told him that he shouldn’t take the project either, but then he came up with a not-so-bright idea: Let’s make a movie that isn’t anything like the original Ghostbusters, but then call it Ghostbusters so we can say that we did Ghostbusters. Genius! And if people don’t like my idea of having an all-female cast in this non-Ghostbusters movie, then we’ll just sit back and watch our friends in the media call them sexists.

As it turns out, Ernie Hudson — Winston himself — also thinks this is an odd idea.

The Telegraph reported Oct. 9:

“I heard it was going to be a total reboot, and that it would have nothing to do with the other two movies. If it has nothing to do with the other two movies, and it’s all female, then why are you calling it Ghostbusters? I love females. I hope that if they go that way at least they’ll be funny, and if they’re not funny at least hopefully it’ll be sexy. I love the idea of including women, I think that’s great. But all-female I think would be a bad idea. I don’t think the fans want to see that.”

Mr. Hudson is going to get himself in trouble with that “sexy” remark, but it’s hard to argue with his underlying point: Hollywood is forcing a bastardized version of Ghostbusters into existence, and Amy Pascal somehow thinks that fans of the original will be happy with that.

Should Hollywood remake Indiana Jones with Kristen Wiig as the lead just to prove that a female Indiana Jones can be successful? Should Animal House be rebooted as Animal Sorority with Melissa McCarthy leading an all-female cast, just to prove that women can be just as funny as John Belushi?

Paul Feig is obviously a talented man, but calling a film Ghostbusters that is almost completely divorced from the original is not a good way to win over its fans. If he can propel this movie to box office success, then he will deserve every penny that Sony pays him.