REVIEW: Ghostbusters 2

 My childhood memories of Ghostbusters 2 are not good.  I saw it shortly after it was available to rent, and young Scott really wanted to like it.  Young Scott, it would turn out, did not like it at all.  Then Early 20s Scott gave it another shot, once again wanting to like it.  No such luck on the second viewing.  And then Much Older Scott decided it should be revisited.

Sitting down with this film, after just recently watching the original, all I had in my head was an image of appalling filmmaking that stomped on the legacy of a film I had loved so much.  The memory of the Ghostbusters walking the Statue of Liberty through New York City was dire.  That image had encapsulated all of the problems I had with the film.  It had felt cheesy and far from what I had expected from a sequel to the masterful Ghostbusters.

Well, I can say that all of the worry led to me expecting something far worse than what I got.  This is not anywhere close to an endorsement.  Because something isn't as bad as you remembered or thought it would be is nice, but that doesn't mean that it is a success.  Just because one poop doesn't stink as much as others doesn't propel it to becoming some kind of bio-refuse version of a Jackson Pollock.

The film finds the loveable Ghostbusters years after their heroic defence of New York City.  Ray (Dan Aykroyd) and Winston (Earnie Hudson) are performing at children's parties, and Venkman (Bill Murray) is hosting a low quality television show about psychics.  However, a paranormal threat brings the gang back together.  Once again, at the centre of this ghostly peril is Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver).

Most of the film has a feel of just trying to recapture key moments from the original.  This poop don't stink, but this poop sure ain't original.  As with the first film, the original draft for Ghostbusters 2 was a lot different than what made it on screen.  Pressure was on Aykroyd and Harold Ramis as Columbia Pictures needed a win.  On top of that, there was reportedly pressure for the pair of writers to make the movie accessible to not just fans of Ghostbusters, but also for those of the cartoon, The Real Ghostbusters.

What ends up landing on the screen feels like a film that is just trying to get from one scene concept to another.  The characters are just there to fill in the gaps, bridging the experience for the audience members as we jump from scene to scene.  The story doesn't come across as reflecting on the characters, but simply using them as a vehicle to bring us from moment to moment.

My memory was that I hated pretty much everything about Ghostbusters 2, from script to acting and everything in between.  There was some pleasant surprise when the performances (at least most of them) didn't come across as annoying.  I was baffled.  'This isn't awful,' I thought.  There were even a few jokes (almost all from Rick Moranis) that made me giggle.  Had I not remembered this properly?

The truth is, I remembered it just fine.  This is an instance of not viewing a film for what it is, but battling it against expectations and memories.  The first two times I saw Ghostbusters 2 were both overwhelmingly negative experiences.  This third viewing was only better because I had unknowingly sabotaged any chance of a fair review.  I had found myself devoting more energy determining if it was incredibly horrible than I had spent to being unbiased.

This is who we are, though.  We cannot watch everything with a blank slate, ready to accept what we see based solely off of its own characteristics  How we view a movie is reflective of who we were at that specific moment and what was on our minds.  For myself, my first two viewings of Ghostbusters 2 were more accurate to what the film is than this latest outing.

Everything that I had issue with this film still exists.  It doesn't lean into the characters and their personalities as the first film.  It repeats moments.  It has a similar bureaucratic jerk.  It has them pulled from confinement to be brought before the mayor.  It has a giant walking through New York.  In almost every way, the sequel loses the qualities of the original and never feels like anything other than a studio led sequel.

For some people, there may be a simple level of escapism that Ghostbusters 2 can provide.  For myself, this is a very poorly envisioned sequel that repeats the exploits of Ghostbusters.  There isn't a lot of heart, and this feels like a corporate decision than anything else.  This came at a time when rap music was getting popular, and everything needed a rap. Enter Run-D.M.C. and their Ghostbusters rap, which felt included for a ‘cool’ factor, and not because it was a good song (it wasn’t).  I could just imagine white males in suits saying, 'all of the raps musics will bop with the kids.'  That, like a lot of this film, is misguided.

Rating - 2 out of 4 stars

Also, does anyone find it weird that the Ghostbusters 2 movie logo is now on their uniforms?