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Ghostbusters (2016 film)

 Hollywood has been churning out reboots and remakes for the past couple of decades. No classic film is safe, as evidenced by the recent reboot of Ghostbusters. The new film is directed by Paul Feig and stars Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth. It’s kind of like Bridesmaids but with more ghosts. It’s really funny with the right amount of spooky thrills. It’s a definite reboot. They pay homage to the original films, but the girls are the first batch of ghost exterminators in this universe. Most of the cast from the first films make cameos, the notable exceptions being Rick Moranis and Harold Ramis. Rick Moranis basically quit Hollywood and Harold Ramis passed away. They could have had him cameo as a ghost but that would have been disrespectful.

 The plot is similar to the first film. You kind of feel like you know what’s going to happen before it does. But the characters make the film worth watching. The four ghostbusters are all hilarious. The riff and play off of each other and it’s apparent that they are all having fun. Comedies are supposed to be fun. Chris Hemsworth had some of the best moments as their bumbling secretary. Who knew that he had comedic chops to rival Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy? 

 I liked the special effects. The ghosts looked retro like in the first two movies of the franchise. I saw it in 2D because that was the best showtime for me, but I wish I saw it in 3D because the climax was so spectacular. The end of the world has been depicted in countless movies, but this was one of the most memorable apocalypses I’ve seen. 

 There are a lot of haters who decided to hate this movie without watching it. You can’t hate it if you never experienced it. I experienced it. I liked it. Everyone else in the theater with me liked it too. I heard laughs and gasps and a smattering of applause when it was over. I heard no boos and no demands for a refund. I don’t think this movie will make its budget back. It won’t be a blockbuster even though it deserves to be. It sucks too, because the scene after the credits sets up a sequel that we might never see. 

 Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Groundhog Day (film not the day)

Bill Murray is awesome. Totally fucking awesome. And sometimes he makes movies. Some people think that Ghostbusters is his best film. Some people are wrong. His best movie is actually Groundhog Day. Harold Ramis (Egon from Ghostbusters) directs this fantasy about a weatherman who gets trapped in time, doomed to relive his least favorite day of the year: Groundhog Day.

Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, a cynical weatherman who dreams of moving forward career wise but finds himself stuck in a rut. He goes to Punxsutawney, PA to report on the yearly Groundhog Day festivities with his producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) and his cameraman Larry (Chris Elliott).

Phil is miserable. He complains about everyone and everything. He finds himself on assignment in Punxsutawney, PA reporting on a rodent with the same name as him. You know the routine, if Phil the Groundhog sees or doesn’t see his shadow then winter will or wont happen. Whatever. Somehow Phil the Weatherman finds himself repeating the same day. Over and over again.

At first he slowly pieces together the fact that he’s not going crazy. Everyone keeps doing the same thing, and he realizes that he’s not experiencing an extreme case of déjà vu.

He does what you would do if you find yourself reliving the same day over and over again. He explores all the possibilities the day has to offer. He tries to kill himself to no avail. He hits on the random girls around time. He hits on Rita. Eventually he falls in love with Rita. He uses his time loop to learn as much about Rita as he can. He learns to play the piano, he teaches himself French poetry, and he tries to make himself her ideal man.

Phil starts to explore every aspect of the day. He meets all the citizens of Punxsutawney and uses his knowledge for good and evil. He saves lives and he steals money. He manipulates people some days and helps them the next day, even though it’s always the same day. At one point he declares himself a God. But he eventually learns his place… he has to do things the right way for the right reasons before he’s allowed to escape his prison.

Groundhog Day is a perfect film. It’s a comedy, but it has an interesting philosophical message. It’s deep. It’s layered. It has Bill Murray in his prime. If you were trapped repeating the same day over and over again, this is what it would be like. It’s a fantastical, pseudo-documentary. It’s about life. You have hopes, dreams, despair, doubts, schemes, plans, backfires, monotonous repetitions and spontaneous miracles.

Groundhog Day is a universal film. Everyone knows what it’s like to be stuck somewhere that you don’t want to be. You want to escape, you can’t always succeed but sometimes you can. And that’s why you try. If you could only repeat the same day forever you might realize what life is all about.

At one point Phil is intent on saving an old homeless guy who seems doomed to die. A nurse tries to explain “Sometimes, people just die.” Phil replies, “Not today.” He can’t avoid the old man’s fate, but he keeps trying to save his life. You can’t control what happens, but you can control what you do, and that’s what matters.

Groundhog Day is a movie that you can watch with anybody. With your friends, with your family, with a girlfriend or casual acquaintance. There’s something for everybody. If you haven’t seen it, I feel sorry for you. Watch it now and I won’t judge you.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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Ghostbusters II

If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! I’m not trying to be clever, who else would you call? Who else is even a possibility? Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Bill Murray are the Ghostbusters, and they’re back in their second film, again directed by Ivan Reitman. The first film is a classic; there is no denying that. But this is a great sequel, and I know a lot of people consider this blasphemy, but I think it is on par, or maybe even better than the original. That doesn’t mean it’s better, it means it’s more Ghostbustery.

The first film of a franchise generally spends a lot of time introducing and establishing characters. In sequels, you already know the main characters, so you can just jump right into the story. That’s how Ghostbusters II starts. It begins five years after the events of the first movie, and the Ghostbusters are no more. But this is a sequel, and the stakes have to be higher. Right of the bat, pink slime is creeping out of cracks in the sidewalk and Dana Barrett’s baby goes for a wild ride in his carriage. She goes to Egon and Ray for help, and the Ghostbusters reunite to find out what is going on.

What is going on is that the soul of a 17th Century tyrant is slowly regaining power and is threatening to take on a physical form and take over the world. That’s pretty shady. Vigo the Carpathian is a much more formidable opponent than a giant marshmallow man. I think that a scary painting that comes to life (who also controls a river of slime) is a little bit scarier than a demon that lives in a refrigerator and a giant candy mascot. Vigo uses Dana Barrett’s boss, Dr. Janosz Poha (Peter MacNicol), to try to kidnap Dana’s baby, Oscar. Oscar is going to the vessel, the body that Vigo will take over.

Naturally the Ghostbusters have a problem with this, and since Dana Barrett is a paying customer, they have to take him down. They discover a river of slime running underneath New York. They find out that the slime is a psyscho-reactive substance, a manifestation of negative emotions, and that it feeds off of angry, surly New Yorkers. The more pissed off and negative they are, the more powerful Vigo and his slime gets, and that in turn releases more and more ghosts. The Ghostbusters find out a way to use happy, positive emotions to control the slime, and use technology to animate the Statue of Liberty in order to fight the ghosts, because that makes total sense. Janosz successfully kidnaps Oscar, and the Ghostbusters have until 12:00 on New Year’s Eve to save the world.

There are a few reasons why this sequel is as good or better than the original. First off, everybody likes Slimer. And Slimer had a decent intro in the first movie, but he is actually helpful in this movie. He drives Louis to the museum, which was pretty important to advancing the plot. Slimer is the ghost mascot of the Ghostbusters, he was hardly in the first movie, but was featured prominently in the cartoon show and this sequel. There are better and more elaborate ghost-catching montages. Rick Moranis is awesome. And his character, Louis Tully, is expanded and has a lot more lines and scenes. He even gets some loving from Janine, the Ghostbuster’s secretary (who also has a bigger and better role to play). Even Ernie Hudson gets more screen time as Winston. Remember that there are four Ghostbusters, and Winston only showed up halfway through the first movie and didn’t do anything really. Winston is there from the get-go and has a cool first scene with Ray as they work a birthday party, establishing that they are now failures. He’s still not quite a lead, but his character actually involved in the plot now.

Vigo the Carpathian is a terrifying villain. He’s a creepy painting that slowly becomes more and more powerful throughout the film. The first movie uses demons named Zuul and Gozer, but you hardly see them. The destructor arrives in the form of the gigantic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I know it’s comedy, but that shit’s absurd even for the ‘80s. Vigo is scary. He even turns the comical Janosz into a disturbing henchman for the underworld… the scene were his eyes become headlights will forever be etched into my memory.

The first movie had great moments. It will always be a classic. But I think that this sequel did more to establish Ghostbusters as a franchise. There are a lot of iconic Ghostbusters moments in this one…. The Statue of Liberty, Slimer the Bus Driver, more Winston, more Louis, the river of slime, the courthouse ghosts, baby-eating bathtubs… the list goes on and on.

Ghostbusters is a great movie. Ghostbusters II is a great sequel and a great movie. They celebrate that they are back, and you are glad they are. And Bill Murray is reason enough to watch this movie. So watch it.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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