Did 'Ghostbusters' Sacrifice Crucial Plot Development for Cameos?
I saw Ghostbusters this past weekend, and had a reasonably enjoyable time. It was a perfectly fine movie! My only real quibble was that it seemed a little short on story and character, and a little too concerned with referencing the original film. More specifically, I think they cut a fairly crucial scene from the last third of the film. Spoilers follow for the end of Ghostbusters.
I think after the staged arrest at the Mercado, Erin blew up about not being taken seriously again. That after all her work and all the evidence that proves that ghosts are real and she and the team are right, they’re back to being the butt of jokes and publicly discredited. Abby would have remained steadfast that none of it mattered as long as they knew they were right, and that she would continue their work whether or not anyone else believed in it. Holtzmann and Patty sided with Abby, Erin quits the team and goes home. This would be a big emotional moment for the two friends who have been steadily and carefully rebuilding their friendship through the course of the film, without really seeing that they have different goals. Abby is doing this work because she believes in it. Erin is doing it because she wants other people to believe in it. Neither of them is wrong, but it’s a fundamental difference that would cause an outburst under the circumstances.
This is why Erin is at home ruminating on their book when she realizes that Rowan’s plan is still in effect. This is why she’s not at the Ghostbusters headquarters with Abby when Abby is possessed and tries to kill Patty and Holtzmann. This is why Erin showing up to the final showdown in her Ghostbusters gear is treated like a Big Moment and not just “well look who FUCKING FINALLY showed up.”
It was probably cut for time, but why was THAT scene cut? Did we need an extended sequence where a graffiti artist draws the original logo and Holtzmann snaps a picture of it while they’re hunting a ghost? Did we need ALL of the cameos that slowed down the action and demanded we take ourselves out of the moment to remember that OTHER Ghostbusters movie? I don’t think so. It came across as too self-conscious, too worried about paying proper “tribute” to the original film to calm the angry fans of the original. This may be the first movie I’ve ever seen where I want to recommend the film itself do some reading on Imposter Syndrome.
At the end of the day, though, even with a slightly weak story and a few nervous tics, I enjoyed the movie. Not just as an entertaining action film, but as a movie that centered around a female friendship that felt real to me. The whole reason I knew enough to posit this hypothetical missing scene is because Wiig and McCarthy put in the work to give us those characters, who they are, and how they drive each other crazy. Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon also helped make the group dynamic feel genuine. And with so few movies out there that are able to quietly honor the dynamics of women friendship and companionship in the way that Ghostbusters does, I’ll happily forgive a few flaws. I just hope the sequel has a little more trust in the strength of its story and cast.
Genevieve Burgess would also like to petition anyone out there for a screen shot of those buildings reading “I (heart) GB” from the end of the film for her social media needs.