Better than it should be: Men At Work

Growing up in the 90s often meant watching whatever was on TV.  There was no streaming service, no YoutTube, and no OnDemand viewing for most of us.  We generally either picked a channel that fit our mood and watched whatever came on there.  As a result we saw a lot of strange and obscure films that were never big hits but made an impact on us because A.) they were all we had and B.) we grew up with them.

In retrospect a lot of these movies are dreadful…we might have loved them at the time but upon rewatching as an adult we regret not keeping them consigned to our memories (I’m looking at you, Mortal Kombat.)  Others, however, remain entertaining and can even improve as we watch them with a more mature eye.  These movies are what I like to think of as “better than they should be,” they work in spite of all the elements that would normally mean they shouldn’t.  There are tons of these wannabe classics and I thought I’d share some of my favorites.  Starting with one of the most unusual: Men at Work.

Title: Men at Work

Release: 1990

Director: Emilio Estevez

Starring: Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen (pre-public drugs n’ whores meltdown), Keith David (a.k.a. “the best thing in the movie”), Leslie Hope, et al.

Premise: James St. James (Estevez) and Carl Taylor (Sheen) are surfers and would-be surf shop owners who work day jobs as garbage men.  They spend their days misbehaving on their trash route, asking each other Trivial Pursuit questions, and spying on their neighbors with binoculars.  After they see what they think is one neighbor (Hope) being attacked by a man, Taylor shoots him with an air rifle.  Their boss, tired of their at-work antics, mandates they have a ride-along with his brother-in-law Louis (David) and the next day they find the man they shot in with the air rifle in the trash, after he was coincidentally murdered by corporate henchmen.  They then have to dodge two cops out to get them, get mixed up in a politics, and stop an evil corporation from dumping toxic waste.

There IS a reasonable narrative explanation for this scene in the film.
There IS a reasonable narrative explanation for this scene in the film.

Why it’s better than it should be:  Sheen and Estevez didn’t make a lot of movies together, especially where they shared considerable screen time.  Their natural familial chemistry plays incredible convincingly (they have a ridiculous fist fight that is spot on how two friends actually fight and contains the dialogue “you’re a stupid man, you’re a stupid little man!”) and since the film hinges on the audience believing in these two guys their relationship is very important.  What makes the movie however is Keith David as Louis.  I’d never seen him before this film and after watching it he was what I remembered most.  A hard-bitten, angry Vietnam veteran, Louis starts out to get Carl and James and the comedic tension he adds is brilliant.  As they get mixed up in the conspiracy and murder his role increases as he refuses to let the guys call the cops, and militarizes their entire investigation into what happened and why.  The film is also full of wonderful vignettes of comedy; the actual air rifle shooting, finding the victim in the trash, the bumbling corporate hitmen, the needlessly senseless police, and the pathetic pizza man.  People are handcuffed together in suggestive ways, a delivery man hostage is taken, and a dead body is dressed up like Richard Nixon.  It is farce at its best.

Favorite quotes:

Louis: Awe, lookie here…someone threw away a perfectly good white boy…

Carl(To two cops on bicycles): What happened Mike, they take away your vroom-vrooms?

Louis: Yeah, cop, I know you, man.  I know what you’re thinking…we got us another crazy n****r here with a gun. Well let me tell you something: human life means very little to me at this point in time.  You see I thrive on misery.  In the jungle misery’s all you got, but things are different back here in the world, or so they seem!  Nobody wants to talk about pain and suffering.  Everybody wants everything to be nice…and civil.  Well okay then!  Let’s be NICE.  Let’s be CIVIL.  And let’s drop those guns before I pull this trigger and change the way you feel about me.

 Louis: There are several sacred things in this world that you don’t ever mess with.  One of them happens to be another man’s fries…  Now you remember that and you will live a long and healthy life.

 Louis: I hate cops… (later) Rent-a-cops…I hate rent-a-cops too!

  Hitman Biff: I think he wants us to kill some more people.

  Hitman Mario: Ok.

James (offering pizza to hostage delivery man): Are you hungry?  Would you like some?

Louis: Don’t give him any, James.

James: Why not, he might be hungry.

Louis: He’s a prisoner, he should be treated accordingly.

James: Have you completely lost your mind?  We’re not soldiers and he’s not the enemy.  He’s a pizza man!

Louis: Back in Fubai, he would have been killed the second he knocked on that door.  I would have snapped his neck like a twig.  And he never would have seen it coming either.

James: Louis, calm down!

Louis: The commie bastard gets no food! (GONG)

Carl: Golf clap?

James: Golf Clap. (both clap softly)



The World’s End Original Artwork: To Err is Human

Off the PageOne of my favorite movies of the 2000s is Edgar Wright’s The World’s End.  The conclusion of the so-called “Cornetto-Trilogy,” the movie brings together everything Wright, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and their acting company learned from their previous experiences; those they’ve completed together and those they’ve completed on their own. It’s hilarious, unique, moving, perfectly cast, wonderfully performed, and masterfully directed.  It’s a terrific film and the best original idea I can recall seeing in a decade or more.

Because of my OCDs I tend to get movies stuck in my head and this can result in binge watching movies or TV shows on repeat.  That was the case with World’s End several weeks ago.  Watching it, then with the writer’s commentary, then the cast commentary, then the technical commentary, then with the trivia subtitles, then just again with all of that behind-the-scenes knowledge, the movie truly got stuck in my head.  I had an idea for a drawing and just had to get it on paper.  This was the scene that stayed with me, along with The Sisters of Mercy song “This Corrosion”:


I started in light 4H pencil to get the basics down:


Then worked left to right to keep the 4B and 6B graphite from smearing too badly as I went:

errpar2 errpen4 errpen4a errpar5

In the end I had to take additional pictures from my Bluray copy of the movie in order to get the costume details accurate.  Each character took around 3 hours each with Gary King taking around 4-5 as he required the most work and it was most important to have his accoutrements correct.

The final version:


I decided to add the blue eyes for Gary’s “Blank” mates, which is different from the film but made a more powerful image.  I added the bright red “To Err is Human” the partial Pope reference purposefully misquoted by Gary in his confrontation with the Network and appearing correctly written on a wall in the epilogue.  The quote became the unofficial name of the drawing.

To make perhaps my artistic life, I posted the drawing on Twitter, not expecting too much only to find the next day Edgar Wright himself, my favorite active director, actually liked the Tweet.  I did a bit of minor bragging about this one!



Ghostbusters 2016 Is Not a Battleground

Off the EdgeThis week James Rolfe, who’s probably best known as the “Angry Video Game Nerd,” posted a video stating he doesn’t intend to see the new Ghostbusters movie because he thinks it looks bad and discussing his plans to release another video explaining the doomed history of Ghostbusters 3.  He threw no insults and, in typical James Rolfe fashion, kept the comments succinct, lightly humorous, and classy.  And in response the internet lost its collective mind.

Many of those who claimed to support his opinion crept out from the dark side of the internet and began to spew vile hate speech about how wrong the so-called “SJWs” were and how awful it was women had been cast in a “guy’s” movie and used Rolfe’s short, low-key video as more evidence they are right about the gender-swapped Ghostbusters being an awful idea.

Many of those who claimed to oppose his opinion began to heap equally hate-filled speech on him.  Accusing him (and anyone who even said they supported his statement not to view the film, like “MovieBob” Chipman) of misogyny and of supporting the “anti-female Ghostbusters” movement; posting personal attacks on him and immediately insulting his opinion and work.

My thoughts as this all went down?  How on earth did this movie become the battleground for gender equality in the media and why has it become such a controversial issue?

There’s plenty of blame here to go around as fires were lit, stoked, and spread by the worst elements of both sides.

To be honest I have no idea why a studio would want to remake any movie and then just change the genders, races, or ethnicities of the characters.  By doing this the makers, though probably unintentionally, cast aspersions on the original by declaring that it was actively not diverse enough and that it is something in need of great correction.  Sometimes the original film wasn’t very diverse.  Whether that is in need of massive correction though is debatable.  As I’ve stated in remake posts in the past, nothing angers an audience more than telling them what they loved wasn’t good enough and that it will be corrected.  This is especially true if the original is a classic and cherished property.  And that’s exactly what the filmmakers here have done.

When the news of an all-female cast was announced the actual misogynist movement, fresh off the deplorable behavior on display during the “gamergate” nonsense, immediately jumped into action insulting the very idea of a female cast; as though a made-up job in a made-up world can be defined by any gender.  They then set about their normal internet troll actions of flaming anything to do with the new film with more misogynistic, anti-LGBT, and racist hate speech.  This escalated as more and more information on the film was eventually released and, no matter what, this crowd jumped on it (with almost preternatural cognizance) to blast anything about it as being terrible…because it was about women.

The filmmakers responded by releasing their famous “girl power” set photo, which, while understandable, merely stoked the flamers more and unwittingly cast anyone who ended up not liking the film on what was known about it automatically in league with those who hated it for gender reasons.  And on and on it went like this.  Back and forth.  Until the first trailer came out.

I’ve already posted about the first trailer (and the second, the so-called international trailer didn’t help matters) but the vast majority seems to agree that it, well, just wasn’t a good trailer.  It didn’t make the film look good.  It wasn’t funny.  Max Landis pointed out that the original film and other films that are comedies that cross over into other genres tend to present themselves as the adjoining genre first and save the comedy for characters and situations (Men in Black was another of his examples).  Something this film didn’t seem to do.  YouTube creator StoryBrain posited many of the aspects of the trailer make the entire production “feel” phony, from the lighting to the character reactions.  Even the filmmakers themselves seemed to distance themselves from the film, promoting it very little.

The problem is a ton of the negativity assigned to the film is the horrible hate speech being spread by the actual misogynists and so-called “men’s rights advocates” (a movement that strikes me as strange.  It’s like when a panel of white, middle aged men on Fox News claim they are being discriminated against because they have to settle for having almost everything instead of the complete cultural domination they so crave).  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t valid criticisms of the trailer.

It was lame on comedy.  It seemed to miss the point and tone of the original.  It looked like a cartoon.  It didn’t feel like Ghostbusters, and those of us who grew up with it can define what Ghostbusters is the same way Justice Potter Stewart defined pornography, “I know it when I see it.”  And what they showed decidedly wasn’t it…

Many have automatically defended the trailer, and attacked Rolfe, stating that other reboots(such as Batman, Star Wars, etc) haven’t received so much hate and inflaming the situation further by assuming the all-women cast is the causality.  They rather conveniently forget the fan reaction to the Michael Bay-Produced TMNT.  The general reaction and failure of Robocop.  The total failure of Jem.  Apparently fans just aren’t terribly excited about revisiting some properties in a reboot.

Though it hasn’t helped that the film and studio have made some choices that are a bit questionable.  In a follow up video to her original trailer reaction, YouTube personality Alachia Queen broke the news that the studio has been accused (and there has been considerable evidence about this) of deleting valid criticism of the trailer and its construction but leaving the worst hateful rhetoric in the comments section in an effort to drive a public narrative that only anti-feminist haters are opposed to the movie.  This narrative has been happily picked up by the media more interested in drama than accuracy.  The studio’s behavior in this case makes it excessively difficult to fully denounce those who claim the movie is using sexism as a tool themselves.

Which leads me to the point that this Ghostbusters movie doesn’t push the movement toward gender equality in films at all.  It actually works against it.  What it is showing is that something done by a male cast can also be copied by a female cast.  What’s the point in that?  It is the regressive propping up of “anything you can do I can do better” or “Man Smart, Woman is Smarter.”  I agree with YouTube reviewer Comic Book Girl 19 who states that to make something really progressive why not a diverse cast of people working together?  All the “gender swap” does is show people continuing to work apart.  It’s really…well just another form of sexism.

So how do you progress the need for gender parity in media?  We need more Furiosas, more Ellen Ripleys, more Peggy Carters, more Ramona Flowers; all in movies showing women and men and of various sexual orientations treating and being treated equally by other characters and the narrative.  Where neither gender is shown as better.  Cooperation is displayed rather than separation.  Parity rather than dominance.  That’s what media needs more of.

Instead we got Ghostbuster 2016 and the debate around it has become toxic.  No one can support or denounce the film without being immediately and childishly branded as a party to either militant feminism or rabid misogyny.  When, for most of us, neither is true.  It’s just the most vocal of the crowd co-opting the argument completely and dominating the stage.  Movie review personalities are actively avoiding discussing it because of rhetoric on both sides and even a single comment leads to long, tedious defenses with prefaces of “I’m not bothered by the all-female cast but…” being necessary to distance themselves from the ongoing assault from that side and attempt to mollify quick-draw criticism from the other.  How does that help the progression of equality or even engender a positive discussion in any way?  And how is anyone even able to give this film any kind of genuine criticism without being labelled or branded something they truly aren’t?

I suggest we take a step back.  We absolutely can discuss this movie and its place in the franchise as a movie, not as a social experiment.  And as it turns out, after numerous, hateful, and even high-profile call-outs on Twitter, that was essentially what James Rolfe did.  A relatively concise, calm, well-thought out history of the failed attempts to create Ghostbusters III with some very brief opinions of how he thinks the new film looks, where he never mentions gender once nor does he criticize anyone in particular or anyone’s view.  He never even says people shouldn’t go see it.  Just that HE won’t.  And yet you’d think from the response after his first post, he was going to go full sexist rant on them.  Some even ridiculed his opinion, putting words into his mouth that were never there (satirically claiming he was using the “destroying my childhood” argument or sarcastically claiming his willingness not to buy a ticket was “oh such a BIG statement.”)  All he said was he wasn’t going to see it.  And yet the side calling for MORE equality and understanding has rather cruelly attacked him personally and his position.

James Rolfe is a filmmaker.  He makes videos saying what he thinks of video games and movies and is a massive Ghostbusters fan (in fact his three-part AVGN Ghostbusters videos were my introduction to his work).  He’s allowed to have his opinion.  Of course people are allowed to have opinions on his opinion, but what people shouldn’t do is hang signs on him and everyone else who voices a pro or con perspective on the film as being either “with us or against us.”  Healthy debate is fine, but people should NOT ridicule or attack each other personally based on what we think about an upcoming movie.  Because we should not a turn everything into a petty binary mudslinging contest.  And we should absolutely NOT be broken into two diametrically opposed revolutionary movements based on Ghostbusters 2016.

I’ll say it now.  I don’t plan to see this film either unless some trusted reviewers give it positive reviews or incredible new information is released about it.  You know why I’m not going to see it?  It’s not because of the all-female cast.  I wouldn’t have gone to see a Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill Ghostbusters directed by Judd Apatow either.  It’s because based on all three trailers we’ve seen it looks unfunny and poorly conceived.  Can I tell if the entire movie will be bad based on the trailers?  Not for certain, but I have a pretty good idea after three of them it’s not looking good and I tend not to go to movies that have advertising that make it look bad to me.  That’s even more true of a remake…especially one of a great franchise.  I love the original film.  I don’t want to see what appears to be a bad remake use the name of an absolute classic to make money and even worse to use the divisiveness of gender politics for publicity.  But here’s the thing.  I shouldn’t HAVE to clarify that I like or don’t like the look of a movie based on anything other than my own tastes and the merits I can ascertain.  Not because of the politics heaped upon it by factions who have descended on it like a Tyranid hive fleet, stripped it of its biomass, and left only a dried husk behind waving the flags of both factions at once.

Ghostbuster 2016 is NOT a battleground for gender issues.  It’s a movie.  A product, designed by a studio around a beloved franchise, given new life through questionable decisions, irrationally hated on by the arrested adolescent gender IN-equality crowd, and incomprehensibly revered by the more militant wing of the “girl-power” movement.  Both sides are guilty of hate speech, both sides are guilty of brain-washed group think, both sides have initiated and reacted to uncalled-for vitriolic assaults, and both sides have been totally played by a film studio who just wanted to make some cash on a well-known film franchise and has now seen its efforts rewarded by free publicity (yes both good and bad, but you know the saying “there’s no such thing as yadda yadda yadda”). Ghostbusters 2016 looks like another bad remake from a studio and in a culture of historically bad remakes.  Some people may like it and they’re welcome to like it.  I wish I could too because, like Jim Sterling says, I can’t see a downside to liking more things.  But I don’t.  I don’t think it looks good at all.  And no, the girl-power movement doesn’t get to brand me, or anyone else who wants to call out what we think is a bad movie for being bad, as a sexist, misogynist, or anti-equality henchman just because we have different opinions on how a movie looks to us.  It doesn’t help endear anyone to your cause and makes you as extremist, brutish, and thuggish as the actual racists and sexist you rail against.

I don’t think it’s too late to debate this movie on its merits.  Its success won’t be a victory for gender equality.  If it turns out to be as bad as many of us think it will be going to it doesn’t mean you’re showing your support for the equality cause, you’re just helping a studio make money on a poor film and even prove that there’s profit to be made in exploiting good causes and bringing out the worst in human nature.  If it actually turns out to be a good installment and people refuse to see it they’ll have missed out on a good experience and helped to kill off any hope for a revival of a great franchise.

We’ve moved past this jingoistic, binary attitude.  It’s a film folks.  It’s entertainment.  There is work to be done in the realm of gender parity, but we shouldn’t turn the release of a comedy remake into the hill we all die on…

Thoughts on Imagination

Off The Top of My Head

It may sound strange but the impending arrival of Doom 4 (and yes I’m calling it “Doom 4”) got me thinking about imagination in entertainment.

I spent years of my teenaged life bolted to a PC chair playing the Doom, Doom II, and Duke Nukem 3D.  It was the ultimate time waster and even though those games have “stories” or at least bits of text or set up between big chapters, one thing I always appreciated about them is how much time they gave the player to themselves.

Most of the time I played Doom I was running around blasting demons and crafting my own little narratives.  Maybe today I was some X-Men-style mutant on the run from monsters (this was in the midst of my biggest X-Men phase), tomorrow I’d be a trained assassin dropped into a hellish world and forced to survive.  Those games really gave you a chance to experience them in your own way.  A big open map, lots of things to shoot, but with definite goals broad enough to weave into your own little stories.  Before FarCry made it normal, Doom II provided a huge map with lots of ways to get around enemies and take them out.  Open world games now don’t feel the same, putting you in the character of a named person with a voice and a story arc.  They fill in the narrative for you as you play.  The closest I can think of to the kinds of experiences I had in the Doom era are Bethesda games and even they provide significant stories and characters, you just don’t have to interact with them and can spin your own fantasies a lot of the time if you’d like.

The more I think about it the more I find imagination is being taken from audiences, not just of games but of movies, and entertainment in general.

I noted in my lengthy Conan review that there is a lot in that film that isn’t handed to the viewer.  There are relationships, histories, and concepts that exist in the background for the viewer to decipher for themselves, allowing their own knowledge and imaginations to create their own stories or explanations.  Recently only Mad Max has done something similar.  But too often narratives are explicit, and I don’t mean “Warning Explicit Content” explicit.  I mean they spell things out and leave nothing for the audience to learn or assume; no gaps to fill in.  They show you something, say they’ve shown it, tell you why it’s important, and then tell you what they’ll do with it.

I can imagine Conan made today he’d find the sword in the crypt and either say “it’s a legendary blade!” or some wise man or witch would tell him later it’s the sword of some dead god, who was also his ancestor…and he was meant to have it because…reasons.  Instead of finding a mystical item, his physical reactions and his uses of it enhancing its mystique and value to the audience.

The same is true for video games of course.  Part of me wonders if the push toward hyper-realism in larger budget games is a reason for this.  Companies spend significant money trying to make characters and environments look impressive and want to force players to look upon these creations as much as possible.  Ben Yahtzee Croshaw has mentioned in the past how often this happens as game play is wrenched from our hands so we can experience something the developer wanted us to in exactly the way they wanted us to and negative this is to the overall experience.  After all it’s the subjective experience had by the audience that creates the legacy rather than the one the author has attempted to impose.

Even as much as I enjoyed Wolfenstein: A New Order and its story I did long for the days when I could just be a generic face holding a gun running through corridors, making it up as I go.

The story behind this image is as in depth as the players want it to be.

It’s one reason I enjoy tabletop games so much and one of the biggest aspects of my love for Warhammer gaming.  It’s noted in every GW rulebook “forging the narrative” is the most important part of any game you play and telling the story of the game is always tremendous fun.  It may look like a bunch of static models standing next to a little painted house, but that squad of Dark Angels is actually taking cover from traitor marine fire after their Rhino was immobilized.  That plastic plane isn’t awkwardly balanced on that resin wall, it crash landed there and disgorged a squad of angry, wounded Deathwing terminators to hold my faltering right flank.  None of that is happening of course but in the minds of the players it is happening.  It’s the same thing my sister and I used to do with my TMNT and dinosaur action figures; creating our own stories and adventures with little plastic avatars.

And that’s the power of imagination to me, and it’s something I just have a sense is being pulled from entertainment more and more as it becomes more “scripted” and more digital.  Less abstract and more “real.”  And the push toward only this form of entertainment might be stealing the chance for imaginations to blossom like they did for my generation.

I’ll leave it with this:

Final Fantasy VII was an amazing story and a fun game filled with memorable characters…and this was our hero:

We knew what Cloud looked like from the artwork, but for most of our experience this was our lead character and how we interacted with the world.  He, like my Warhammer models, represented the character with my own imagination filling in the gaps and remembering fierce battles and epic journeys of what was a polygon character in low-res world.

So I have to wonder…is this Cloud any better?

Will it make the game better now that he’s all shiny and “real”?  Will it make the story better?  I’m not such a Luddite that I believe advancements in technology and narratives aren’t important.  I just hope as we advance we don’t discard everything that worked, because it worked for a reason.  When you experience a piece of art or entertainment that is so scripted and meticulously created that it gives you everything you need to see and do you’re experiencing someone else’s vision, which is ok some of the time.  I just hope we are also still allowed to forge our own narratives and experience them our own way some of the time as well.

The Ghostbusters: Trailer to Trailer Comparison

So we have a new Ghostbusters trailer and, unless fate intervenes, a new Ghostbusters movie to contend with. My RevPub partner has already addressed the issue of potential sexism with the film, so the intention of this post is to analyze the new trailer, compare it to the original 1984 trailer, and see why the new trailer fails so spectacularly.

What is the purpose of a Film Trailer?

Quite simply to sell or hype a future movie. While it can be argued that sometimes trailers are used to obfuscate a film’s nature or even to misdirect an audience into thinking a film is in a different genre that’s actually not too common. Mostly a trailer is designed to represent the film being advertised and bring the target audience for a film to that film. So what makes a good trailer versus a bad trailer? Let’s look:

Ghostbusters (1984)

The 1984 trailer is a product of its time with Narrator Voice Guy, and general plot set-up voice over, but its tone, substance, and characterization are excellent representations of the film being advertised. Knowing the film like I do (it was one of the only two VHS tapes my family owned for about 4 years after buying our first VCR) there isn’t a moment of wasted time or much content that isn’t relevant to the story of the movie. There is one line I recognize as not being in the final film (Venkman’s statement about being a chairman) but by and large the trailer is the movie. Cut together from pieces of the film, using the film’s now iconic music and symbols. Ghostbusters is known as a comedy but how many comedic elements are there actually in the trailer? We know Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd for their comedic roles and Harold Ramis for his comedy writing and directing but they are shown playing it largely straight in the trailer as they do in the film.  Ernie Hudson is just a fine character actor and Sigourney Weaver a natural leading lady. The tone and narration is that of a horror film, with just a few of the movie’s subtle jokes thrown in (for example the definition of “bad” and the exchange between Zuul and Venkman). But overall the mood and tone are actually quite gritty and serious. No characters are introduced by name and the specific plot isn’t spelled out. It’s about the characters shown in uniform catching ghosts used to entice an audience who would like to see them doing that for 90-plus minutes.

Ghostbusters (2016)

The new trailer starts with promise, though it makes a mistake off the bat stating “four scientists saved New York” (it was three scientists and regular working-Joe Winston Zeddemore). The musical tone is accurate, even if the visuals do the modern trailer trend of dipping into black for every scene change. We see a neon ghost, but who wasn’t expecting CGI ghosts (even though the projected ghosts at Disney’s Haunted Mansion in 1987 looked eerier…) The trailer does the other modern trailer trend of dropping all backing music for a joke then… vomit take, which like my RevPub cohort mentioned is rarely funny. What follows is a character-by-character “here’s what role you fill” sequence with some “here’s the plot” voice over interspersed with…well lame jokes of people hurting themselves, characters involved in some flat comic sequences, and some slapstick routines…

Now perhaps the new trailer is just a bad trailer. But taking this as representative of the film it makes us wonder who is targeted by this film? Original Ghostbusters fans? I can’t imagine. Most of the ones I know who go way back to the GB obsession from the 80s are severely put off. Not by the casting, but by the use of the cast and tone of the movie. The original film as captured accurately by the 1984 trailer, was first a movie about two dorky but brilliant scientists, one slimey but lovable scientist, and one level-headed normal guy pooling their various abilities to stop a catastrophic supernatural event in New York. During the course of that story funny things happened, but usually in subtle ways. (One of the best moments in the film is when Ray demands Gozer the Gozarian leave New York as though her car was illegally parked). Even the famous Slimer moment was…yes think about it…off screen. We hear the scream, saw the ghost charge, then cut to Ray running to Venkman’s aid to find him on the floor covered in ectoplasm (again some subtle humor here as Ray responds to Venkman’s “he slimed me” with “that’s great!”) Almost no gross out humor, some nicely executed entendre, and a story tone that put the spooky side of ghosts first accentuated the seriousness of the situation (people could ya know…die…disaster of biblical proportions ‘n all…) and left the humor to the personalities of the Ghostbusters and their responses to situations.

“Is it the wig or the hat?” – Everything Wrong with the New Trailer

When I think of everything wrong with the trailer I think of this sequence. Kristen Wiig’s character, Erin Gilbert, walks by a display and Kate McKennon’s character, Holtzmann, is posed like one of the items in the display wearing a ridiculous wig and goofy hat. So the question is…what is this sequence doing in the trailer? What does the represent about the movie other than a Scooby Doo level of sight gag? Any logic applied to this scene makes you scratch your head…it’s clear the Ghostbusters are on a call here…so during this case one of their number stopped hunting ghosts to put on a wig, put on a hat, then pose for another member of the team? Maybe the full film will put the scene in context and describe the Holtzmann character as one who really has an affectation for wigs, or hats, or nonsequitors…but in the trailer it’s Lowest Common Denominator humor. It’s designed for a cheap joke that defies the logic of the story and characters (one is a brilliant particle physicist the other a brilliant engineer) established in the very same trailer. And that’s the impression it leaves me with. It’s not a Ghostbusters story like the original film was, but more a series of loose plot points designed to set up joke sequences with the story elements a road map from one joke set piece to another.

Like my RevPub partner I have no intention of seeing this movie. Especially when I learned of all the great ideas (two by Dan Aykroyd) that were passed over to make this one. Many news sites have posted the general public reaction to this trailer and the studio and film makers seem to already be in near panic over the fan response. I’d never wish anyone’s career ill will. Some talented actors, comediennes, and filmmakers are involved in this movie and hopefully their next projects will be better received, but with this project all involved seem to have fundamentally missed what made the original film such an instant classic. Future trailers or the film itself may prove those of us who watched this first trailer with absolute disgust wrong. But I doubt it. And right now this version of bustin’ certainly don’t make me feel good…


Ghostbusters Remake: Why I Won’t See It

The Ghostbusters remake trailer premiered a couple of weeks ago and confirmed every fear I had. This topic has been controversial since its announcement and with good reason. From the cast to the writing, the trailer alone suggests remake tragedy. As far as I’m concerned, I hope it bombs, so they stop trying to destroy well-loved movies.

The All-Woman Cast

Those who are not excited about the cast are not necessarily sexist. I’m a strong, independent, hard-working woman. I support my family and am a good mother. I support nearly every fight for better pay, treatment, career advancement, rights, etc. And I hated the idea the all-woman cast. But it’s not about them being women; it’s about Hollywood taking advantage of us.

In Hollywood, woman power has become a trend. I love the idea of an all-woman cast if done for the right reasons, but in this situation, Hollywood executives saw an opportunity to capitalize on 1) women and 2) a successful franchise. It’s like they said, “Oh, women are cool right now, so let’s make them Ghostbusters and see how much money we can make off of them.” That insults me.

The trailer even suggests they dumbed the characters down, made them goofy and not funny. Where’s our sharp wit? Where’s our ability to handle things rationally? Not in this trailer.

The Writing Stinks

“You’re a brilliant engineer.” … “No one’s better at quantum physics than you.” Why do we need to say that? Why can’t writers allow the audience to assume roles and intelligence? We don’t have to spell out everything in a movie. The Ghostbusters remake is certainly not the only movie with this problem. Most modern movies say too much and explain things unnecessarily because the people writing them should not write movies. If you’re targeting women, guess what? We are smarter than that.

On another note, the trailer is not funny. I’ve watched it 10 times and never once smiled. They ripped out the wit, sarcasm and dry humor, and added vomiting and awkward banter. Note to Hollywood: Vomiting is never funny. Ever.

Also, why are they making fun of The Exorcist? I love The Exorcist; it still scares the crap out of me, but why is it appropriate to include it in Ghostbusters? In the trailer, they poke fun at one of the most intense movies in horror history, and as a fan of The Exorcist and horror in general, that is not okay with me.

Gotham Meets Ghostbusters

Many people are criticizing the ghosts’ appearance. I’m okay with some of the CGI, and Slimer looks good. However, most of the ghosts flying or walking around downtown make it look like Gotham City from the first Batman franchise. The ghost in the striped pants (watch trailer) made me roll my eyes. Also, there were very few floaters in the original. It wasn’t a sideshow of neon lights and CGI.

I’m Over Remakes

We had a blast this past Halloween comparing originals and remakes, but I noticed we did not review anything after 2010. Remakes in the last few years have, for the most part, sucked. Poltergeist, The Fantastic Four, Point Break, all decent/good originals, all remade in 2015 and not well received. If a remake does well, it is because it is well written, directed by the best person for the job, and cast well. A movie will not make a good remake just because the original was popular. For example, would the Halloween remake have succeeded if M. Night Shyamalan had directed it instead of Rob Zombie? No.

There’s my rant. I will not see the Ghostbusters remake, and I’d appreciate Hollywood stop trying to destroy some of the best movies of my generation. If you don’t have an original idea or can’t produce a ‘good’ movie, then maybe it’s time you get out of the industry.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer. Take note of the dislikes: