Earlier today the trailer for the new Ghostbusters movie debuted online. For those of you who listen to our podcasts; when this project was officially announced (it had been long in the rumor stage) you would have heard me, a long time fan of the franchise’s many forms, speak passionately about how I was worried that this was nothing more than a cheap, lazy cash-in which was invoking a brand that had 30 years of goodwill behind it just so that it didn’t have to try and come up with its own branding. After all, even without the name, the infamous “No Ghosts” symbol is one of the most recognizable brand logos in the world.
Before we get into my, and others, opinions on the trailer lets look at the trailer itself.
Starring Kristen Wiig , Melissa McCarthy, Kate McCrimmon and Leslie Jones. Directed by Paul Feig. Releasing July 15, 2016.
Now onto my opinions:
First of all, even though it has been made very clear by the people making the movie that this is a reboot of the Ghostbusters universe, the very first thing out of the gate is the familiar music and then words evoking the original movies – something that should, frankly, be unnecessary unless you are linking the two movies or are heavily relying on the goodwill conjured by previous installments that do not exist in your world. The first 40 seconds of this 2 minute 37 second trailer are nothing but appeals to remember the original movies. The music, the logo on the subway wall, the image of the firehouse, not to mention the first ghost we see them interacting with is a woman in a library that suddenly gets ugly and scares them. That’s right, just under a third (or about a third if you include the shot of Slimer later) of this trailer’s run time is dedicated to going “Remember that REALLY GOOD movie.”
Then we get our first glimpse of “comedy” after Wiig’s Erin is coated in vomited ectoplasm from the aforementioned library ghost, we cut to a joke about it going in “Every Crack’. It was at this point that my heart sank.
You see, the production stills and the like that had come out had done a great job of making it LOOK like a Ghostbusters movie. You have to do more than that, though; you have to sound and feel like a Ghostbusters movie – which 90% of this trailer really doesn’t for me. What does it sound/ feel like? It feels like Bridesmaids had sex with the Scooby Doo movies with the weird CGI dog and this popped out after 9 months.
With the exception of McKinnon’s Jillian Holtzmann (who we get to see criminally little of in the trailer), the whole thing just feels like a Paul Feig movie with an SFX budget.
Do you remember when you heard Ray Stantz talk about the work that needed to be done on the car when they first got it, or when he says “The whole building is a huge, superconductive antenna that was designed and built expressly for the purpose of pulling in and concentrating spiritual turbulence” or when Egon said things like..well pretty much anything up to and including “Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light”? You believed what they were saying, and even started to understand it. This movie also has a “Paranormal expert” in Abby Yates played by Melissa McCarthy
Now when Paul Feig was linked to directing this, and the all female cast idea was launched, the first thing pretty much everyone on the planet said was “Well Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy are gonna be in it”, and man I wish I was wrong; because for this entire trailer they are fumbling over dialogue which feels like they either don’t understand or don’t care enough about to make you believe it the way that Aykroyd and Ramis did. At one point McCarthy is called upon to deliver the line “You did not disclose the vehicle was gonna be a hearse…” (which points out the fact that they were trying to make the character look intelligent by using “disclose” instead of “say” then having the word ‘gonna’ in the same sentence makes me want to kick the writer in the head) is one of the flattest line deliveries I have ever heard.
Then there was a small bright spot; a moment that felt truly “Ghostbusters” with Holtzmann and the wig/hat scenario. To answer her question, though? It’s the Wiig that feels like too much (see what I did there?)
Following that, whatever glimmer of hope that left me with.. whatever light in the darkness, just came crashing down.
You see, this movie is taking many things from the original, including the 4th buster being black.
But this is not the same…oh no… it’s much, much worse. because in the case of Patty Tolan (played by Leslie Jones) we have nothing more than a black stereotype.
“I’m joining the club. You guys are really smart about this science stuff, but I know New York and I can borrow a car from my uncle.”
An actual line from the trailer, including a picture of Patty sitting in her MTA booth working. That’s right folks, we have a nuclear engineer, a paranormal expert and quantum physicist… and a person who knows New York! I’ll let you guess which one is the black person.
Add into that, Patty’s reactions after Abby clearly gets possessed with screams of “OH HELL NO!” and slapping people screaming “THE POWER OF PATTY COMPELS YOU!” thus you have all you need to know about Patty’s characterization.
Now bear in mind that I am a white male, and I’m outraged by this… I cannot imagine what people of color must be feeling.
The thing that made Winston great in the original movies is that he wasn’t a black person that was a Ghostbuster. He was a Ghostbuster that just so happened to be Black. Short of one joke, that was a well known turn of phrase even for white people, it was never raised. In fact this trailer condemns its own black character. In the opening nostalgia hit, there is a caption that reads “30 years ago 4 scientists saved New York” Winston wasn’t a scientist. Winston’s motivation was “If there is a steady paycheck in it…” but people don’t think of him like that, we think of him being on Egon, Peter and Ray’s level. Patty is little more than what has been described to me several times this morning as “The Sassy Black Friend”.
I could continue on this for a while, but on the whole I was left kinda gutted. I’d let my hopes get raised, and it genuinely seems like the only thing I can hold onto is McKinnon’s character, who seems to be the only one not bored or a stereotype – and was the only one to draw laughs from me. Be it her eating the Pringles in the opening ghost encounter or the wig line. Rather than derive its comedy from situations, we’re going to see a lot more of the slapstick physical comedy. We are going to see new takes on the ‘Busters’ tech though, with what looks to be McCarthy punching a ghost and McKinnon dual wielding pistols… which both seem to go against established canon of how the proton packs work… the CGI (while there is a lot of it), seems to be suitably…spooky, and you know what? Fuck it. It’s always great to hear the Ghostbusters music….
When discussing the trailer with some of our other writers, a few quote came up that I would also like to share
Doug: “The only thing about this that even got me to chuckle, was watching Leslie Jones beat the shit out of Melissa McCarthy. Harold Ramis is spinning in his grave.”
John: “Not good. Too much CGI, characters seem dull and their interactions feel forced.”
Emanuel: “All the white folks are brilliant scientists and the black gal works for the transit authority. Racism is over.”
Jonathan: “The complete and utter racial tone deafness of Leslie Jones being shoehorned in as the “loud angry black woman” who, even in the trailer, makes it clear that she is uneducated and doesn’t understand all this ”science stuff”, but wants to be a part of their smart girls club, cannot be overstated. You have four of the absolute funniest women in entertainment today; women who can play any sort of character, and have shown as much in their many years on SNL and in other television and movie roles, and you choose to go with the stereotype ‘Minstrel Show’ Black Woman? Poor form indeed.”
It would seem I am not alone in my thoughts.
In summation, I’m horribly disappointed and underwhelmed by the trailer, and what little bright spots there are don’t seem to be being given enough time to breathe and grow in the trailer.
What did YOU think?
What were your favorite/least favorite parts?
Are you going to be first in line opening day or wait for Netflix?
Let us know in the comments below!