So the internet is abuzz over the first trailer for the Ghostbusters reboot. The reactions to the trailer for the new film, which raised eyebrows by recasting the protagonists as woman, were as polarized as the responses when the movie was announced. People either loved it or they hated it.
Sadly, I found myself on the side of the haters.
I wanted to like it. I really did. When the movie was first announced, I thought that a reboot was a really bad idea, but I held my tongue. I was cautious in my pessimism. I didn't want to lumped in with the myriad of voices that were opposed to it for reasons that were petty and sexist (you may recall that Donald Trump was one of those voices). Also, I genuinely like all of the performers involved. Watching the trailer, unfortunately, I found my pessimism to be justified.
Okay, so the trailer begins with allusions to the 1984 film, including showing locations from that movie, which would suggest that the film is a continuation in some way. Of course, this is immediately shown not be the case as we are shown the outline of an origin story that seems to so closely resemble the original film that it becomes evident that this is merely a remake, and not a very imaginative one at that. I mean, really, couldn't they have thought of another place aside from the New York Public Library to encounter the first ghost? Is there a reason that they had to stick to the same number of Ghostbusters and the same racial demographics? Not to mention the fact that, once again, the black character is the non-scientist who is rough around the edges. I mean, I love Leslie Jones and her aggressive brand of humor, and it pleases me to see her getting into bigger film roles, but am I the only one who finds this a little cheap, if not blatantly racist?
Basically, it looks like it will be just a bigger, glossier, crasser telling of much the same story, with no evidence of the sly humor of the original film, which so deftly balanced comedy with supernatural horror. I would welcome the opportunity to be proven wrong, and see the film succeed on its own merits and the performances of its gifted cast, but I doubt that this project will prove to be one that is worthy of their talents.
Again, I thought the reboot was a bad idea from the beginning, and it had nothing to do with the gender switching. It had to do with Harold Ramis.
Like many fans, I had been eagerly awaiting Ghostbusters 3 for years. I knew that that it had largely been held up by Bill Murray, who seemed to be reluctant to return to broader comedy since his transformation to idiosyncratic indie hero (a transformation that I have relished watching). The other obstacle, it would become known, was the long-standing feud between Murray and Ramis, co-star and co-writer of the original movie and Murray's frequent collaborator until they had a falling out after Ramis directed him 1993's Groundhog Day. (The feud was a largely one-sided one, as it was Murray who refused to work with Ramis again and the two former friends would not speak for several decades.)
Alas, it was never to be. Although there was speculation for years, and scripts floating around, it never coalesced. Sadly, Ramis, who in addition to Ghostbusters, was the comedy genius behind Caddyshack , Stripes, and National Lampoon's Vacation, passed away after a long illness on February 24th, 2014. I was pleased to hear that Murray and Ramis reconciled before his death, but I was sad that it happened far too late for them to don their tan coveralls again.
And so it really seemed to be adding insult to injury when it was announced less than six months later that a new movie was in the works. I could imagine a scene in which an executive at Paramount callously proclaimed "Well, it looks like a sequel is out. How about a reboot?"
Couldn't they have given Harold Ramis a little time in his grave before he had to start spinning in it?
It seems that the idea of not rushing out another product to make money based on a known property was apparently not even an option. It is upsetting to see a movie that I loved so much in my childhood, that was so original, funny, and so daring in its genre bending, to be reduced to a property to be monetized.
Now, I would not wish to denigrate the talents of the performers involved by calling an all-female version of Ghostbusters "gimmicky," but it did seem to me to be a way of making a calloused, business-oriented decision seem creative, artistic, and original. The cynic in me (the loudest of my inner voices) also wonders if part of the reason for this decision was to hijack the conversion, to distract from the fact that a reboot was simply a good idea at all, and give the makers of the film the ability to dismiss naysayers as a bunch of pathetic, sexist, internet trolls.
At the end of the day, I will go see the movie. I have no doubt that everyone involved is enthusiastic and probably as much a fan of the original film as I. However, if I come out of the theater and say I didn't like it, I assure you that it will be for other reasons than sexism.