From the moment it was announced that they were remaking Ghostbusters with women as the leads, the Internet lost its collective minds. Thousands of people have gone insane with hatred towards a movie they’ve not yet seen. As with any passionate internet wave, the backlash was as intense as it was inevitable. Cries of sexism came fast and furious as if anyone who wasn’t completely in love with the idea of this reboot hated all women. Now of course, if you spend any amount of time on the various internet boards in which this film is discussed, you’ll find a barrage of actual sexism for the world is big and its full of bigots. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t legitimate concerns with this reboot. Let's be entirely honest here and admit that the first trailer looked completely uninspired. Let's further conclude that rebooting any classic film, especially one as iconic as Ghostbusters, is unnecessary and fairly pointless and will therefor incur the wrath of fanboys.
Personally, I tend to avoid most reboots as they rarely are as good as the originals. I’m also generally not a fan of big, broad comedies as my sense of humor is rather odd, quirky, and dark. I can’t imagine I’ll be watching this new version in the theatre nor likely on television unless it just happens to be on and I happen to be bored. Which really isn’t a statement on the film at all, but rather my own cinematic sensibilities.
Which brings us to the original. Fathom Events brought the classic 1984 sci-fi comedy back to the big screen for four special events last Wednesday and Sunday. I was fortunate enough to catch a screening and it reminded me of how much I truly love that film.
I really do. I was eight years old in 1984 and I saw Ghostbusters in the theatre at least a few times on that initial run. I thought it was the greatest movie I’d ever seen, barring Star Wars of course. It was a huge, blockbuster hit and so after its theatrical run, it was often shown on television. I watched it every time it came on. Then I watched it some more on VHS. And more on DVD. I even own a huge cardboard poster of Bill Murray all suited up just as he’s entering into that hotel. I quote it incessantly, and to this day I cannot pass a piano without twinkling a couple of keys and going “they hate this. I like to torture them”.
And yet as I say all this, I came to the realization while watching it again yesterday afternoon, that I had not actually seen the film in many years. I guess at some point I’d reached the saturation point with it and moved on to some of my other favorites or the countless other films I’d not yet seen.
Watching it again on the big screen, I was filled with joy. I laughed readily, muttered lines under my breath, and cheered at my favorite moments. And yet I also realized that if this film was released today (with perhaps updated special effects), I likely wouldn’t love it nearly as much as I do with nostalgic rose-tinted glasses. My sense of humor has been refined down to a very specific sensibility. I don’t tend to like the broad stuff most comedies are made of, I like jokes that are quirky, perhaps tinted with darkness, and that come from deep within a character and story. Most comedies tend to lob as many jokes as they can think of at you as fast as they can. There is a theory of joke density that says that the best comedies pack in as many jokes as they can within a given scene. I rather hate that idea. Give me good jokes that make sense within the story being told and I’ll love it no matter how few and far between they come.
Ghostbusters is very broad and the jokes lean more towards the silly than esoteric. This isn’t to say its not a very funny film. Bill Murray gets in the most quotable and hilarious lines, but everybody gets in at least a few good laughs. If you are reading this, you don’t need me to tell you how funny the movie is, you already know. I’m not here to prove you wrong either. I just had that realization that my cinematic tastes have changed dramatically over the years and that a film I’ve loved most of my entire life would likely have not even been seen were it to have come out now instead of when I was a kid. Weird.
Ah, but it didn’t come out now, and I have the very best nostalgia over it. It was wonderful catching it again in a real theatre and inner child is still jumping for joy.
After the film they showed a short, behind-the-scenes video of the new film and I must say it looked a lot funnier than the trailers even hinted at. I can’t say that it was enough to get me into the theatre for it, but it's got me intrigued enough that I’ll catch it at home.