Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Girlbusters Review

I saw the new Ghostbusters last weekend as part of a three-for-one drive in show. For those who cannot rest until they know what the other two movies were, they were The Secret Lives of Pets (which was excellent) and Tarzan (left in the middle of it).

Let's start with a disclaimer: if you only care about Ghostbusters as a flashpoint in a cultural war, it won't be good enough to win you over. All of the little Feminist Flag Waves are going to set your teeth on edge past the point where enjoyment is possible.

If you don't care about feminism or the meta-controversy, it's simply another mediocre remake. After a solid opening sequence, the film flails about for the first half trying to find a reason to exist. It's not particularly funny. the characters walk the line between two-dimensional and off-putting, and it drags around the original films like Marley's chains. It does achieve one thing - using a plot this formulaic and still have pacing problems this severe is truly extraordinary.

The humor has an ad-lib, schizophrenic energy that I can tell is intended to be funny, and yet at best can only elicit a sensible chuckle from me. It's less of a series of jokes and more a stream of silly words. My friend Rick thought it was hilarious, so this may be a matter of taste.

 Me, watching Ghostbusters

None of the characters click in a convincing way until roughly the mid-point of the film, where we learn the reason Erin became interested in hunting ghosts. I'll avoid spoiling the scene, since it's a moment that truly jumped out for me, and the only thing I can think of that improves on the original.

It is after this scene that the movie starts to come into its own. We find what was missing in the first half of the movie - a reason for any of this. Girlbusters is a movie about the search for acceptance in a cruel and dangerous world, and it carries that theme well through the final action sequences and into the credits.

Funnily enough, Ghostbusters and Girlbusters serve as something of ur-examples of gender differences. The male Ghostbusters are hunters that conflict with authority and primarily care about success. The 'Ghost Girls' are pack animals that bend to authority and primarily care about being accepted. Success in Ghostbusters comes from running a successful business in spite of opposition. Success in Girlbusters comes from getting government funding from a jerkass mayor who had them arrested.

Girlbusters succeeds in the feminist quest to turn men into women, but it fails in the quest to turn women into men. The four main characters are women, and the movie reflects that. As "feminist propaganda" goes, that's fairly weak.

As a movie, it's a mediocre reboot with moments of brilliance, like lonely wontons floating in a sea of soup. Speaking of which, make sure you stick around for the credits, as they're legitimately one of the most entertaining moments in the entire film.

Final rating: C+

1 comment:

  1. Saw "The Secret Lives of Pets" with my sister when she was in town. Didn't care for it. I only laughed one time the whole film.

    I didn't see "Tarzan" though at first I wanted to after reading what the basic plot for the film was. The set-up for the story sounded interesting as heck, but then I heard they really failed to do anything good with it, so I didn't watch it. Walt Bismark on twitter said that the plot-idea was great, but the execution was garbage.

    Didn't see the Girlbusters, never had any urge to see it at all. Interesting observation you had on how both films serve as examples of gender differences, though. Women do tend to vote for bigger government, after all.