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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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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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The Little Giants

The ‘90s were a glorious time for kid sports movies. The Sandlot, the Mighty Ducks trilogy, the Big Green, Little Big League, Rookie of the Year… and the Little Giants, easily the best movie about a co-ed Pee-Wee football team of all time. Duwayne Dunham (Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey) directs Ed O’Neill (Married… With Children) and Rick Moranis (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Strange Brew, Ghostbusters) in this family film about family, teamwork, and making fun of fat kids.

The basic premise is that Becky “Icebox” O’Shea wants to join her uncle’s Pee-Wee Cowboys team. She doesn’t make the team because she is a girl. So she manipulates her dad into starting a new team, so that she can play too. There’s a “One Town, One Team” rule, and so the rag-tag Little Giants must play the Cowboys to represent the town. Most of the kids on the Little Giants are lousy, but Icebox and a kid named Junior (a young Devon Sawa) are pretty decent. Icebox starts to develop a crush on Junior and has to decide if she wants to be a footballing tomboy, or a cheerleading girly girl. She quits the team and lets them struggle in the big game and then the joins the team again and everyone is happy.

If you quit a team or a group, you let everyone down. She quit the Little Giants when the needed her the most. It was her idea to start the fucking team. And they just let her come back and act like nothing was wrong. She’s either a bitch or a victim of shoddy writing. Yeah, I know I’m getting angry at an old kid’s movie, but shouldn’t kids be learning valuable lessons like DON’T BE A QUITTER?!?

Anyway, there is a motley group of kids that join the Little Giants. You have the nerd, and the mama’s boy, and the Asian kid, and the black kid and the fat kid. The Asian kid isn’t the nerd, the black kid can’t catch a football unless he imagines it’s toilet paper, and the fat kid gets mocked repeatedly throughout the movie. He always farts or falls on the skinny kids. It is really mean-spirited. I wonder if the director or the kid’s agent told him how relentless the fat jokes would be. It’s a great message to send to kids: you can be a valuable asset to a team no matter who you are, but if you are fat you are comic relief. This is America! You can’t make fun of fat kids, they are our future.

Rick Moranis needs to make more movies. Not movies like this, but more movies in general. Come back, Hollywood needs you. Ed O’Neill is a great actor. You forget that Al Bundy is coaching a kid’s football team. He doesn’t cheapen his performance or talk down to the camera. He acts like coaching Pee-Wee football is all he knows or wants to know. He plays it very real and genuine.

This movie is a rip-off of the Mighty Ducks. They just changed a few things, but it’s definitely the story of a crappy sports team that gets slightly uncrappier, and they win the big game. The Mighty Ducks had the Flying V; the Little Giants have the Annexation of Puerto Rico. The Mighty Ducks has Adam Banks, a great player who was on the Hawks and than joined the Ducks. The Little Giants has Spike, a great player who joined the Giants and then switched to the Cowboys (a reverse Adam Banks). The Mighty Ducks has a tiny little actor playing the coach (Emilio Estevez); the Little Giants also has a tiny little actor playing the coach (Rick Moranis). They are both so small, but they try so big.

The Little Giants is a decent family film, but I doubt that kids today still watch it. This isn’t a classic film like the Sandlot or even the Mighty Ducks. It’s entertaining but not life changing. I wouldn’t change my Facebook status for this movie.

Critically Rated at 10/17

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