Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters ran into a buzzsaw when it was released this past July. Unfairly, I might add. For reasons we may never be able to figure out, the Bridesmaids director’s efforts to revive the classic comedy for a new generation (with a female cast of legitimately hysterical performers) were met with fierce resistance — mostly in the perpetually perturbed online community — and it affected the film’s overall grosses. Ghostbusters earned $228 million worldwide, but for a summer blockbuster, the overall feeling is that it could have, and should have, done better.
This week, Ghostbusters finds its way to home video, and I’m really hoping that this is how the comedy finds its larger audience. While Paul Feig and his team put extreme effort into perfecting the 3D on Ghostbusters — the movie earned the rare perfect score on our To 3D scale — the film’s finest moments are smaller, character-driven ones that work better on your TV screen, be it Chris Hemsworth’s subtle, scene-stealing comedic work as the dumb receptionist Kevin, or the adorable way that Kate McKinnon’s Jillian flirts with Erin Gilbert, played by the flustered Kristen Wiig. Feig and crew have created a weird world that these offbeat characters now occupy, and it’s for the following reason I hope they are able to return for a sequel. Spoilers for this movie will follow.
They’re Not Beholden To The Original Film Anymore
Even with its obvious surface changes, Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters was a rehash of Ivan Reitman’s original Ghostbusters, with three eccentric scientists and one native New Yorker forming a team of paranormal investigators right around the time that some supernatural nonsense started to happen. Set pieces were changed and the effects were drastically improved, but these two movies, structurally, were mirror images. A sequel to the new Ghostbusters would be freed from the shackles of trying follow in the exact steps of a beloved predecessor. Feig isn’t going to remake Ghostbusters II, right? (He shouldn’t. That movie’s not good.) A second Ghostbusters movie could send this team to a new city. They could take on a villain that doesn’t look exactly like Mr. Stay Puft. And they’d need to make great use of Sigourney Weaver’s Rebecca Gorin, introduced in the final moments as Holtzmann’s mentor.
Because using Zuul for the sequel, as hinted at in the end-credits sequence, would be a bad, bad idea.
The Origin’s Done, So They Can Hit The Ground Running
Because it chose to follow the script of the original film, we spent an hour establishing the backstories of lead characters Erin (Wiig) and Abby (Melissa McCarthy). The new film spent time establishing Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), and more time building up Kevin (Hemsworth) then it did laying out Rowan North (Neil Casey), the eventual villain. But now that the pleasantries are out of the way, a sequel could really hit the ground running with a complicated plot, a challenging villain, more jokes (naturally), but a story that better utilizes the idea of battling the supernatural in the year 2016 (or whenever a sequel would come out). Sequels aren’t automatically better that the originals — looking at you,Iron Man 2. But having fully established characters allows you to play with their personalities, bring in new elements that challenge the team, and improve on the foundation that Paul Feig has laid.
Ghostbusters 2 Also Could Give A New Director The Chance To Play In The Sandbox
My advice for Sony if they move forward with Ghostbusters 2? Hand the reigns to a new director. And this has NOTHING to do with Paul Feig, whom I love and think he has created some ridiculously funny movies in Bridesmaids, Spy and The Heat. But I honestly believe that this process burned him out on the concept of a Ghostbusters movie… and on the decency of the franchise’s fanbase. Sony could — and should — treat this series like James Bond, where a new creative voice picks up the tools and sees what they can create within certain parameters. Keep the central cast, but let them play off of a horror director, or a female filmmaker. Give the guys behind Netflix’s Stranger Things a crack at creating a wildly original yet still nostalgic Ghostbusters story. There’s so much juice left in this concept, and we don’t automatically have to jump to a male-driven Ghostbusters movie because this one stumbled. Give the ladies another shot, and let’s see what else they can do.