Ghostbusters – Why We Gonna Call?

Rant by Steven Lewis

So, OK – it appears everything is moving forward on this “Ghostbusters 3” project. Do we really need this? I don’t know about you, but I’m still waiting for a decent “Ghostbusters 2”! They’ve had both a movie and a video game to get it right now, and it just doesn’t work.

I always felt “Ghostbusters” was a movie that either shouldn’t have a sequel or, if they were determined to do one, it should definitely *NOT* fall back on repeating any of the elements from the first one. Simply because “the first one” was (especially for its time) so unbe-fucking-lievably different from any other movie could possibly be. Its mix of comedy styles (both witty and goofy), as well as its surprising and inventive cross-pollination with other genres – namely, horror and action – was done so incredibly well, and was so original (in terms of, there really were no previous models to serve as a template for what it was trying to do) that it should have been left to stand all on its own as an island of originality, circa 1984. Today, of course, it doesn’t seem as much so, because so many other movies have blended these exact elements in various proportions. “Men in Black” is, I guess, the most obvious fellow traveler, but really any F/X extravaganza that blends its creepy action with humor is taking at least a page from the “Ghostbuster” playbook. Not trying to be absolutely categorical about this, but just off the top of my head, I can think of “Evil Dead II” and “Army of Darkness”, “Independence Day,” “The Princess Bride,” most of the superhero movies – notably “Hellboy” – the Brendan Fraser “Mummy” movies, “Pirates of the Caribbean,” — hell, maybe even Tarantino’s blender mish-mash of styles and attitudes was somehow influenced by the eclectic amalgamation that “Ghostbusters” represented.

Yes, “Ghostbusters” deserved (and deserves) either an incredible sequel – or a non-existent one. One that doesn’t play it safe by falling back onto the formula of its predecessor. Becuase if there was anything “Ghostbusters” represented, it was the glories that come from NOT playing it safe, and from chucking “formula” completely out the window.

So, with all that in mind, what might have made a more appropriate sequel?

Something that got them out of New York, certainly. No reason to revisit that mileu again – not only because it’s repetitive, but also because, hey, they vanquished all the paranormal baddies in THAT town already! But suppose, just suppose . . . that by doing so, they somehow opened a portal to another dimension that the ghosts slipped through, and they reconstituted themselves – in different forms and with perhaps different powers – on the opposite side of the world? Or, at least, someplace different.

How’s this (just spitballing off the top of my head): after our boys are barred by the city of New York from ever plying their trade again, and having taken up other careers (the brilliant conceit which opened “Ghostbusters 2”) they are in fact lured into the arms of Hollywood, where studios are eagerly bidding for the rights to their remarkable story. Once out in La-La Land, they act as creative advisors on the film being made about them. Culture clashes humorously abound, since – though Bill Murray’s Pete Venkman character would be at home amidst smarm central, supergeeks Ray and Egon would both be fish out of water, as well as massive pests at making sure the Hollywood guys got all the paranormal minutia right, to the consternation of everyone. Once those comic beats had played themselves out, we’d get to the real heart of the story: the vanquished ghosts from New York somehow become reconstituted within the computer systems at ILM which are being used to create the ghost special effects for the new movie. The special effects would then truly “come alive” – and go on a rampage which engulfs all of Los Angeles.

The upshot? The Ghostbusters would then have to strap their power-packs back on and chase down the ghosts (possibly with the aid of the “new” ghostbusters – that is, the actors cast to play them in the film — or, at the very least, these guys could follow them around in their pursuit in the interest of doing “research” on their characters) – and the ghosts could be chased through various forms of reality, as they track around the studio backlot (into different movies and TV shows, sit-coms and soap operas, as well as historical mini-series, etc.) Could be cool. Could be stupid. But hey, it’s a fresh idea, anyway.

Which I’m betting is more than is contained within the “Ghostbusters 3” script currently making the rounds.

“Ghostbusters” is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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