Contentious Movies: Ghostbusters Answer the Call (Ghostbusters 2016)
Posted August 2018
This movie is one of those movies that angered and upset a lot of people when it came out in theaters – well, in this case, this movie angered people even before it was released.
I seldom drive to the movie theater. I don’t stream anything. I don’t do Netflix.
I do, however, have cable television (minus HBO).
By the time I see a movie on television, it’s approximately two years old. I’m usually running about two years behind everyone else in movie-viewing.
The F/X channel ran their premiere of “Ghostbusters Answer the Call” (also known as “Ghostbusters 2016”) one or two weeks ago.
I watched it.
Even before this movie was released, though, back in 2016, some were angered by it.
Then the first trailer was released, and a lot of people hated the trailer.
There were many men who disliked all four leads in Ghostbusters being replaced by women, as the original 1980s Ghostbusters had all-male leads, including Bill Murray.
I saw the original Ghostbusters in a movie theater in the 1980s when I was a kid – one of my older siblings took me to see it.
I enjoyed the movie just fine, but I thought it ranked only slightly above average.
I did not, nor do I now, regard the original as being some kind of untouchable, classic masterpiece.
Therefore, if some movie company wants to do a remake of it, with or without women leads in the original roles, I don’t mind.
In the months before this Ghostbusters reboot was released, some men were saying online that they are not sexist, and that the reason they disliked the new Ghostbusters because they felt it was a sub-par, un-funny movie. (How they knew this on a trailer alone is beyond me.)
But I did see men online who were in fact sexist pigs about it, men who do not like women, and who resent women getting more roles in movies (some of the sexists were also pretty bad about the Star Wars franchise getting more women characters, or putting women in the forefront).
The staggering amount of hostility and vitriol the new Ghostbusters produced online in the year 2016 was amazing to me.
To this day, I cannot fathom how or why so many men behaved like bratty, whiny little cry-babies about a movie from their youth being remade at all, and/or or re-cast with women.
As a matter of fact, that so many people have been becoming so inhospitable and grumpy about pop culture over the last several years has turned me off to movies more.
Movies used to be a form of fun and escapism, but that people now take movies so seriously, to the point they act as though movie-watching is a form of religion to them, and they attack the actors and directors of these films on social media and so on, sort of put a damper on things for me.
I wrote more about that in this older post:
Now that two years have passed since the release of Ghostbusters Answer the Call, I think maybe people can or should be able to be more objective about it.
My own personal movie review is going to be rather short.
Here is the short version:
I found Ghostbusters Answer the Call to be a very boring movie.
I was surprised it was so boring. I was expecting it to be at least mildly funny.
And no, I did not find it boring because it has women in it.
Even had this movie cast all-male leads in it, it still would have been dull.
I’m not a sexist. Quite the contrary, and unlike many other conservatives, I don’t balk so much at the inclusion of more women (or people of color) in movies.
I do think that some groups have been under-represented in movies, and women have been one of those groups, so if some Hollywood studio wants to put more women in roles, that is fine with me.
“Ghostbusters 2016” is slightly below average in quality, in entertainment, and in comedy.
The special effects in the movie were quite well done, however – I am speaking specifically of the computer- generated ghosts. I thought the ghosts looked wonderful and convincing.
However, not once did I laugh aloud or even grin during this film.
I did find a small number of one-liners or sight gags to be amusing, but that was it.
The cameos of the original Ghostbusters in this update – such as Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray – felt off, or forced. They felt obligatory, so I didn’t find them charming or funny.
I didn’t feel as though most of the cameos added anything to the movie. Bill Murray seemed unhappy and bored to be in the movie, so maybe it would have been better had he not had a cameo at all.
About the only cameo that made me happy was seeing the actress who played the secretary in the original (actress Annie Potts) show up as some kind of hotel employee in this new version.
Many people, both in professional and in lay-person reviews, praised actress Kate McKinnon for her work in this movie. McKinnon played the daffy, wacky engineering Ghostbuster.
McKinnon certainly wasn’t awful, but I did not find her performance or antics to be particularly creative or laugh- out- loud funny, so I’m at a loss to understand why so many people online who discussed this film in comments sections seemed to feel her performance was creative genius.
Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy played two of the other Ghostbusters in this. Their performances felt very rote to me. In their scenes together, I could sense they were acting.
That’s always been a pet peeve of mine as I’m watching a show or movie – when one can tell that the actor is acting. I shouldn’t be able to see the wheels in your head turning, as you’re trying to remember your next line, and so on.
Kristen Wiig and McCarthy got their start in some acting improv group called The Groundlings, based in Los Angeles, and it shows here.
One can see Wiig and McCarthy doing their improv shtick in several of the scenes, so it pulls me out of the scene, and reminds me, “I’m watching a movie.”
Wiig and McCarthy were in 2011’s “Bridesmaids” together (which I didn’t see until 2015), and many of their scenes together in that movie felt and came across as more genuine, especially the scene where the McCarthy character gives the Wiig character a pep talk on the sofa.
These two actresses lack that realism and naturality to their performances here in Ghostbusters Answer the Call that they had in Bridesmaids together.
I have sat through Ghostbusters 2016 at least three to four times at this point – I’ve watched it every time it’s been on the F/X channel so far, and I will probably watch it when it comes on F/X again this weekend.
I have given the movie a fair shake.
I did not allow the sexist men of two years ago – who went around crying that the Ghostbuster’s director, Paul Feig, ruined their childhood – to prejudice me against the movie before I finally saw it on cable television a couple of weeks ago.
Prior to watching the movie, I assumed it would be mediocre, an average, but enjoyable affair, one that I would find entertaining in a “so-so, it’s not really bad but not really great either” kind of way.
Ghostbusters Answer the Call turned out to be not altogether horrible – I’ve certainly seen worse movies – but it was a little below average.
There are some people who saw this film in theaters when it first came out who said in comments sections on entertainment review sites that they really enjoyed it.
As for me…
I have no idea how a scriptwriter or director can take an entertaining premise about people with proton packs hunting ghosts and make it tedious or dull, but this movie managed to make it pretty dull. I don’t think having had male leads in the Ghostbusters roles would’ve improved the quality any.
You can read more reviews of the Ghostbusters Answer the Call movie on Rotten Tomatoes.