glenn criddle | cynical celluloid | april 2016
Well, that went down well didn't it? The Ghostbusters trailer has landed and a storm of vitriol has begun. I've said as much for years but taking a classic or beloved film and messing about with it is almost always a recipe for disaster and for several reasons. A film like Ghostbusters is one of those fortunate films that has an audience that loves it, wholly and completely, it has been a special part of many of our lives for a very long time and for good reason. It was a film that appealed to a very wide range of film fans by virtue of the fact that it doesn't pander to a narrow audience like so many films do. It was not afraid to be scary, it didn't shy from being adult, it also had many things that appealed to kids; the tech, the fantasy elements, etc. The humour played on multiple levels from the slap stick of Venkman being slimed and having the enormous marshmallow man as the big bad through to some subtle sexual content such as the implication of what the 'Keymaster' and the 'Gatekeeper' are required to do to bring forth Gozor and of course the far less subtle dream sequence where Ray has a happy dream with a happier ending. Long story short, the film worked for everyone who got to see it, young and old and despite a little bit of dating, it still has charm and is from a time when we weren't so restrained by the touchy-feely society we have now.
The original is a classic, it always will be. It was chosen by the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry which selects on the grounds of being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," it's that big a deal. Now the reboot (not remake) is about to hit the screens and the trailer has provoked a strong reaction, largely one of negativity. This is the thing, a third entry into the Ghostbusters series was demanded for years and for one reason or another, some of which was to do with the studios being obstructive and, of course, the creative differences between two of the main stars of the original, the series never got beyond the less than stellar and very much rushed second film. As the years went on it was becoming increasingly clear that a third film just wasn't going to happen. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson have gotten a bit old for the roles by now and of course, Harold Ramis has passed away, sadly the opportunity had gone and now the studios were free to do what they wanted, unfettered by the demands of the return of the original characters.
Unfortunately for the fans of the original, I have to say that this seems to not be a film that's aimed at them. This, for better or worse, is Ghostbusters for a new generation and if there is any particular disappointment for me it's that it seems to have largely forsaken those who wanted continuity and has done so in all respects other than a few references and the fact that it's called Ghostbusters. The trailer itself pretty much screams this at us with its text, and I quickly came to the conclusion that if I'm to enjoy this at all I'd have to let the past go and take it for what it is.
Sadly it's also become a victim to some of the creative decisions that have been made. I'm not going to guess at whether the intention was specifically that the film is supposed to be a feminist statement, either way, it has been seen as such by many people. If that's the case then it could have been handled better and seems a rather heavy-handed effort at best, but the worst thing is that the film is going to be, and indeed is, being scrutinised not only from that angle but by all sorts of socially hyper aware young people on all manner of social justice issues. This is not a healthy atmosphere in which to assess the film. The film is now, for many, secondary to how much it offends their sensibilities and the cast and creative team now have to defend the film against a deluge of protest, which ranges from the fair to the unreasonable.
Despite some odd looking special effects in the trailer, I actually think I could enjoy this film but one thing is for sure, it's unlikely to get much reasonable coverage on social media as it's picked to pieces by feminists, anti-feminists, social justice warriors and indignant fans of the original. It is so tainted by the knee-jerk and narrow-minded, single issue opinions that if you praise it you're wrong, if you slate it you're wrong. It's now controversial and for no good reason.
So with almost no chance it will get a fair hearing either way, I take this opportunity to remind you of the less controversial one, you know, the one with the really scary ghosts, chain-smoking in the office, multiple sex references, adult humour, kids humour and several giants of comedy leading the way. The one with bad language and cutting humour, and a line about the existence (or not) of a city official's genitalia.
Considering how I normally feel about reboots I'm surprisingly relaxed about this one because I know the original will always be there, it will always be good and it's unlikely it will ever be eclipsed. The reboot? Well, it played its hand by going the way it did and it's having to deal with the fallout, both good and bad and both reasonable and frankly absurd.
The phrase “you can't please all of the people all of the time" springs to mind though sadly I'm wondering if Ghostbusters 2016 has now even got a fair shot of pleasing anyone at all.
He's British so forgive the extra U's and the use of the letter S instead of Z. If there's one thing that typifies Glenn's writing it's the 'Video Nasties,' a long list of movies that offended all and sunder during the 1980s in the UK. It's those seemingly offensive fringes of cinema that informed his writing on cinema and the more political area of censorship with a more sympathetic approach to those films that push the limits of taste. But don't worry, he does talk about normal stuff too and isn't likely to go off on a horror movie fuelled rampage.
For more of Glenn's work, visit his Youtube channel under the name lampyman101.