In yet another N.Y. Times piece about Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters (Sony/Columbia, 7.15) and the sight-unseen loathing by hardore, mostly-male fanboys, Dave Itzkoff asks the four leads — Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones — to analyze the adversity.
But before I quote from it, it’s important to reiterate that while I took an instant dislike to this film based on the trailers, I’ve never said to myself “the original over-worshipped 1984 film shouldn’t be remade as a girl thing.” My reaction from the get-go has been (1) “the trailers have suggested there isn’t anything the least bit funny in this film” and (2) “I’m getting a sense that it’s CG-driven if not CG-dominated, and there’s nothing less funny than being carpet-bombed by expensive CG.”
Itzkoff: Was there a point at which you noticed that because of the film’s premise and because the leads were female, some subset of your audience was not happy?
McCarthy: You mean the crazy people?
Jones: You mean the people that don’t know that it’s a movie?
Wells interjection: In other words the proper attitude in Jones’ view should be “it’s just a movie so sit back and chill.” There are some who look at moviegoing this way, as a check-your-brain diversion. And there are many, of course, who go to movies for a kind of theme-park experience…CG, CG and more CG. But there are others who would never say movies are “just” anything. They regard theatres as churches and movies as experiences that might, if the moviegoer is lucky, deliver intensity, enhancement and even joy, even if the film in question is apparently some dumb flick about fighting ghosts. They regard movies as experiences that can potentially cleanse your soul (at least temporarily), that can deliver the kind of emotional devastation that rarely seems to happen in real life, that might even take the viewer on some kind of transcendent voyage. It would appear that Jones is not one of these people, but the Ghostbusters haters, trust me, are made of almost nothing but moviegoers like this.
Jones continues: To me, the people who are crying about, ‘This is ruining my childhood,’ this movie is not for them anyway.
Wiig: They need to probably go to therapy.
McCarthy: I think their childhood was pretty much ruined already. If this broke it, it was pretty fragile to begin with. It is good to remember, it is a tiny, tiny fraction that screams. Normal, healthy people don’t stand outside, saying, ‘You’re ruining my childhood!’ There’s one nut on every corner in every city that does it. But so what? The other 300,000 people in a town aren’t doing that.
Itzkoff: Why are some people approaching these big-budget fantasy movies — like the new Star Wars or your film — as battlegrounds for social ideas?
Feig: I think it’s the death throes of the old guard. It makes a smaller minority scream louder, because they’re losing their grip on the cliff. I understand, if somebody was remaking The Godfather, I would be like, “Wait a minute.” But when everybody’s like, “It’s a cash grab”? Everything ever made in Hollywood since the beginning of time is a cash grab.”
Wells reaction #1: Honestly, Paul — do you think Zero Dark Thirty, Manchester By The Sea, 12 Years A Slave, Inside Llewyn Davis, Moneyball, The Social Network, The Fighter, Zodiac, Memento, Traffic, Children of Men, Adaptation, Sexy Beast, There Will Be Blood, Michael Clayton, A Serious Man, The Departed, In the Bedroom, No Country For Old Men, The Quiet American, Open Range, Up In The Air, The Hurt Locker and Million Dollar Baby were made with the intent of everyone cleaning up and grabbing cash?
Wells reaction #2: If this description (“death throes of the old guard…makes a smaller minority scream louder, because they’re losing their grip on the cliff”) isn’t an on-target description of the rural tea-baggers and the Kurt Russell crowd since the ’08 election of Obama, I don’t know what is.