By Mike Hudson
Remaking a classic American movie can be a dangerous business. Even when you’ve got everything going for it. Just ask Leo DiCaprio and everyone else who was associated with the remake of “The Great Gatsby” awhile back.
This week’s big release is a remake of 1984’s “Ghostbusters,” one of the funniest films ever made. Harold Ramis, Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis and Ernie Hudson starred, and were at the peak of their comedic comedic powers. Ackroyd and Ramis wrote the script, and the great Ivan Reitman directed.
It was that rarest of birds, the critically acclaimed smash hit. It was nominated for two Academy Awards. The eponymous theme song, sung by Ray Parker Jr., shot to the top of the charts all around the world.
So why would you attempt to remake something like that. Well, it’s 2016 and the world is a lot more politically correct than it was in 1984. So why not a version where you have women playing the lead roles?
That seems to be the only reason this movie got made.
The new “Ghostbusters” stars Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones in the roles originally created by Ramis, Ackroyd, Murray and Hudson. Although a new script was written to reflect the femininity of the cast and update a few things here and there, the story hasn’t been changed.
Even the special effects, the old Cadillac used as the crew’s transportation and the proton blasters with which they battle the evil spirits trying to take control of New York City, are the same as those used in 1984.
Directed by Paul Feig, who also co-wrote the new script, there was nothing he could do to alter the fact that these four woman are comedically not in anywhere near the league of the four males who started on the earlier film.
Comedies are supposed to be funny, right?
This isn’t. An early laugh line delivered by a malevolent spirit says it all. “Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts,” lets you know right away that if you don’t like the movie, you must be part of some vast supernatural conspiracy opposing women’s rights.
Watching this, you get the feeling that McKinnon, McCarthy, Wiig and Jones screened the original “Ghostbusters” over and over. It’s as though they’re doing imitations of the priginal cast rather than trying to bring anything new to their roles. The chemistry between the leads in the original is completely absent here, however.
Like any number of subpar films this summer, the new “Ghostbusters” will open on so many multiplex screens this weekend that moviegoers will be drawn to it like flies to cow dung, and it will do well at the box office.
And years from now, when people are still screening the original and laughing hysterically at one of the best American comedies of all time, this unfunny mess will be completely forgotten.