Matthew Rozsa explains why the new Ghostbusters trailer just wasn’t funny.
When it was first announced that Sony was making an all-female Ghostbusters, I couldn’t have been more excited. In my article for The Good Men Project on the upcoming film, I wrote that “it would be a disaster if the movie was deemed a qualitative failure… If the movie is a success, Ghostbusters 3 could be a forward stride for female comedians comparable to what Frozen was for non-traditional female leads in animated films. If it was deemed a failure – either because of latent sexism among moviegoers, a poor script, unflattering comparisons to the brilliant original (and stronger-than-average follow up), or any combination of the three – it would be at best a wasted opportunity, at worst a setback.”
Now that I’ve seen the trailer, it seems like many of my worst fears are about to come true.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not quite ready to write off the Ghostbusters reboot. Trailers can be misleading, and because comedy often works best within a specific context, it could be that the jokes highlighted in this initial advertisement were simply among the lamer fare from the actual movie. That said, if this Ghostbusters trailer is an indication of what will come, moviegoers need to brace themselves for one of the biggest disappointments in modern film history.
To explain why, I’ve decided to break down the trailer joke-by-joke and explain why so many of them fall flat:
- The first attempt at comedy occurs when Kristen Wiig gets slimed by a ghostly librarian. Personally, this was the scene that caused a feeling of dread to well up in the pit of my stomach. It was the same feeling I had after watching the trailer for “The Hangover Part II,” which also established from the get-go that it was going to blatantly rip off jokes from the original film. This is never a good sign.
- Next we hear Wiig discuss how the slime got into “every crack.” Again, this seems like a retread of Bill Murray’s famous complaint about feeling “funky” after being attacked by Slimer.
- Then Leslie Jones’ character, Patty, introduces herself to the Ghostbusters and volunteers that she can provide them with a valuable service because she knows her way around New York City. When she shows them a car she got from her uncle, Melissa McCarthy’s character complains that it’s a hearse, to which Jones replies that it’s actually a Cadillac. Nothing particularly groan-worthy here, but also nothing particularly funny.
- After a “cool” montage showing them driving around in the new Ecto-1, we see Wiig and McCarthy apologize to each other for inadvertently talking over one another before making their grand entrance. I’ve seen this joke countless times before and it is as stale as month-old bread.
- The same thing can be said of Kate McKinnon’s big joke – i.e., wearing a goofy wig and hat and thus startling Wiig’s character. Additionally, the “camera pans over images of not-living heads before stopping on a character whose head is real” has only been really funny once, in Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein.”
- Finally we arrive at the scene that literally made me cringe. McCarthy’s character has been possessed by a ghost and Jones mugs for the camera as she tries to rescue her. Aside from the appalling “sassy black friend” stereotype being played up here, the punchline is – I hate to sound like a broken record – almost unbelievably stale. The ghost leaves McCarthy’s body after the first slap, McCarthy is clearly okay and in pain, and then Jones administers an unnecessary second slap because she doesn’t get it. Hardy har har?
You may have noticed two themes in my analysis. First, many of the jokes seem to exist only as nostalgia-fueled callbacks to the first movie. Even worse, those that are “original” to this film have been done to death. I didn’t laugh once while watching this trailer, which is particularly shameful considering that Wiig, Jones, McCarthy, and McKinnon are all very talented comedians. Hopefully this was just a poorly constructed trailer, but if it foreshadows the movie to come, we are all in for a very depressing time.
Photo by relux./Flickr