I loaned my D.V.D. of it to a screenwriter who is working on a comedy about a manipulating schemer who encounters the supernatural; he had never watched it and didn’t really even know the story. He wasn’t as impressed as I am: “I felt from about the mid-point when they got ‘famous’ things started moving …
" /> Jason Holborn | Cybercarnet/Weblog - There's Something About GHOSTBUSTERS…

There’s Something About GHOSTBUSTERS…

I loaned my D.V.D. of it to a screenwriter who is working on a comedy about a manipulating schemer who encounters the supernatural; he had never watched it and didn’t really even know the story. He wasn’t as impressed as I am:

I felt from about the mid-point when they got ‘famous’ things started moving too quickly and in a very bombastic direction that  to me was unnecessarily contrived, whereas I think there could be more comedic gold in a simpler story that would have more fully explored the uniqueness of the characters and situation they’ve created instead of showcasing production value. It actually felt to me like one of those movies that would have turned out better on a lower budget because it would have forced them to do just that (the scene with the earthquake is a perfect example IMO – an uber-expensive set/shot that at best might have achieved a momentary pause for some people yet ultimately didn’t really add anything to the story).” – M.

Hey M.,
I totally get what you’re saying. One of my prime mentors never really cared for Ghostbusters (tho it’s growing on him in the last couple years) and always says it should be “Ghostbusters with Bruce Willis”. I totally get what he’s saying, too – and I KNOW THAT I WOULD *LOVE* HIS VERSION JUST AS MUCH!!!!! 😀

I can see Bruce Willis in para-military Ghostbuster fatigues, making the ultimate sacrifice to stop a 300 meter Medusa. Or whatever. I love it.

I can see a more pared down movie a la THE SIXTH SENSE with comedy, about paranormal specialists who, after the midpoint you mention, get into a creepy fun thriller exploring character and big questions about morality. Maybe even with some kind of crazy twist ending that shocks people and makes it better each time you watch it. The sky’s the limit.

“Ghostbusters Inc.” is the KING of great ideas.  Invent any movie you want out of it and if you have any talent at all, and any observation and memory of the world and life around you, chances are you’re writing your personal favorite story.

The version they did is a Hollywood blockbuster (and I don’t think you’re describing one). One thing I like about the movie is that they used it to inject something that had never been done before into Hollywood, deciding that instead of names like Clark Kent, James Bond, GI Joe, Bruce Wayne, James Kirk, Sam Spade, Peter Parker, Joe Friday, and Robin Hood and Indiana Jones, the Ghostbusters would be Dr. Peter Venkman, Dr. Raymond Stantz, Dr. Egon Spengler, and Winston Zeddemore.

Quick, right now, name five non-WASP heroes from fiction.

Here’s my attempt:

Kunta Kinte.
Jokey Smurf.
(Gene Roddenberry deserves more applause)
John Stewart, Green Lantern.
Black Panther.
All I have are superheroes.
I half think that “Samuel L. Jackson” counts; he’s halfway to being a character in himself
(I mean that in a good way)
Red from Shawshank Redemption. And not exactly world-saving, either. Plus now I just got onto associating “black actors” so the Buzzer means that Time’s Out.

I’d count 4 of those as genuine “hero characters”. Kunta Kinte, Uhura, Black Panther, and, kind of stretching here, Sulu (unfortunately, not until Nicholas Meier’s Undiscovered Country). John Stewart “counts” but really, why didn’t they just re-write ret-con Hal Jordan as a black man? (And why don’t they just do that now?)

I deliberately wasn’t counting the Ghostbusters.  I can’t imagine that Aykroyd and Ramis and Reitman could have possibly been unaware how cool and fun it was to be making this non-WASP-y movie in Hollywood.  (And in GHOSTBUSTERS, the antagonist/villain is a WASP) (though so is the Love Interest, Dana Barrett)

I’d hesitate to substantially re-write what I think is a terrific Hollywood effects comedy, yet I always love to tell people that in the first for-Reitman draft of GHOSTBUSTERS, Winston is a major character who enters in Act 1, and functions as the field-captain of the team, and a Vietnam War veteran (and think of how many historians call that war’s draft especially unjust to black Americans): while Peter is the CEO in the office and the street, Winston is the man who yells the orders about confinement streams and clearing room for traps.

I’m no Hollywood insider; I just read a lot of trivial pursuits; I’ve read that when Eddie Murphy (knows writer-star-inventor Aykroyd from Trading Place and SNL) wasn’t available (Bev Hills Cop???), whomever at the studio was reluctant to give such a prominent role to a lesser star. (I’ve heard that Ray Parker Jr. balked at giving the studio the rights to the song unless there was a black Ghostbuster included, but that is *totally* second-hand and apocryphal).

I won’t bore you with why I like the screenplay. We all have our own takes and ideas.  I think it’s as good and as well done as Back To The Future or Raiders of The Lost Ark or Superman: The Motion Picture. But as a movie entry into cinema, I think it’s really special. It kept a wide, mass audience entertained and engaged and it’s about a bunch of Jews and Eastern Europeans and a black guy saving the world, who step off the mountain as heroes in the world’s most multicultural village, having defeated a primeval demon from pre-history to save the village and world. It’s Beowulf, it’s occult, it’s Lovecraft, it’s B-Movie haunted houses in skyscrapers (hello!), it’s Mr. Spock (Fanon submission: is “Ghostbusters” in actuality Spock’s whimsical holo-deck de-stresser in TNG?), it’s science-G.I. Joe, and it’s all about the North American descendants of “immigrants” and slaves, starring in a major big-budget Hollywood studio release.

Anyway, glad you liked the first half of it.  😉