Saturday, August 12, 2017


Year 9, Day 224 - 8/12/17 - Movie #2,713

BEFORE: It's finally here, the end of "Geek Week" (which was really 11 days long, in the end) and it comes not a moment too soon.  I'm way over my tolerance level for these talking-heads style documentaries that all feel the need to over-mansplain the concept of people liking stuff just a bit too much.  I'm sure it's not just the fact that I've been to Comic-Con that I'm thinking, "We GET it already, nerdy people are obsessive and like to play dress-up."

Now, I had planned for there to be a linking break between "Back in Time" and this film, the two films are linked so thematically that I was going to let myself slide on this one - it turns out I shouldn't have worried, because even though the two films share no big-name stars in common, there is one interview subject that carries over - former Columbia executive Frank Price carries over.  See, even when I don't plan the linking, it still happens.  Go figure that one out.

THE PLOT: A look at the intense fandom for the "Ghostbusters" franchise.

AFTER: If you follow the news out of Washington, recently that Scaramucci guy made a lewd comment about Steve Bannon, referring to him committing an act of, shall we say, "self-love" that is physically impossible (for most men, anyway).  And every reporter in the country was forced to report this, because it was newsworthy, even though the mere mention of it, in those terms, both disgusted and confused many people.  But there was not ONE reporter who treated it as the metaphor that it was meant to be, meaning that it was symbolic of a form of overblown self-promotion - so way to misinterpret the news, everyone.

Which brings me to movies about how great certain movies are, which is a new way that Hollywood tends to over-gratify itself.   Usually one might include these interviews as extras on an anniversary DVD release, let's say, but now we're making stand-alone movies about how great it is to love each particular movie franchise.  Because there's apparently money being made to cater to the fan clubs that have sprung up since the rise of the internet.  Back in my day, as a fan of "Star Wars" we had the movies and the fan club newsletter, the tie-in novels and comics, and the action figures, and that was it.  OK, so we dressed up as characters for Halloween, but we didn't form clubs to discuss the various ways to build R2D2 models or Stormtrooper armor, if our moms bought us bedsheets with the Star Wars art on them, that was good enough.

(Don't say I didn't warn you here, if people raised money on Kickstarter to make documentaries about how much people love "Back to the Future" and "Ghostbusters", then logically there are a ton more of these films on the way - prepare for docs about the fans of "Harry Potter", "Twilight", "Pirates of the Caribbean", and so on.  They may even exist already, I'm not sure, but if not, I can feel that they're on the way.  I don't understand this constant need to prove that the thing you like is the best thing that could possibly be liked.  Thankfully this is the end of the road for me on this topic, and I'm moving back to narrative material tomorrow.)

Now, don't get me wrong here, if people want to form Ghostbusters clubs in every state in America and every Canadian province, they have every right to do that.  And if some of those clubs want to visit sick kids in the hospital, or raise money for various charities, good for them, really, I want to support that.  But I DON'T NEED to know about it.  A charitable act should be its own reward, and if we glorify these actions too much in print or film, some part of me feels that this negates the good of the act, and then I start to wonder if the people involved are really doing this for the right reasons.

And there's a woman shown here who needed to quit drinking, and when AA wasn't working out for her, she found solace in "Ghostbusters II" (yeah, that's not a typo) and watching that film every day gave her the strength to abstain from alcohol.  OK, in one sense, whatever works for you, but to me that seems like substituting one crutch for another - now she does the cosplay, has her own proton pack and is a member of her local Ghostbusters chapter, and has built her life around the franchise.  One has to wonder what becomes of her, then, when the sequel to the reboot really sucks balls - does she go right back to the bottle?

Other Ghosthead fans try to explain their love of the film here, but they're almost all linked to some family tragedy, and also none of them can really explain things very clearly, so what results is a lot of circular, almost nonsensical explanations.  "Well, I watched the first film with my grandfather, and I liked it, so I guess it reminds me of him, who I liked, and then he died, so when I want to remember him I watch the film, and I like it because it's good and it reminds me of him.  And I like that."  Thanks for clearing that up.

As in "Back in Time", the film explains why you can't find an old ambulance or hearse on the used-car market anymore, because Ghostheads are buying them all to personalize their own "Ecto-Mobiles", because what good is the jumpsuit and a light-up proton pack without your own themed car to drive to conventions in?  These people know there's no "Biggest Fan" award given out at these events, right?

The original Ghosthead was Peter Moser, who also is interviewed here.  This guy made his own costume and started showing up at events before we even had the term "cosplay", and Columbia ended up hiring him to make appearances, thanks to a passing resemblance to Dan Aykroyd, or maybe one of the cartoon characters.  But it seems that unlike today's fans, he found a way over time to separate his costuming life from his personal one, and somehow managed to have a wife and son and a life outside the convention circuit.  These other people take things way too seriously, with their traveling around and collecting patches from all the other clubs.  If you try to take a proton pack through airport security, you deserve whatever results from that.

We saw what can happen with fans who get a little too involved, especially with "Ghostbusters".  Remember all the people with negative reactions to the female reboot last year?  Man, the dark side of sexist sci-fi comedy fans really came out.  So allowing the super-fans to visit the set or attend an early screening of the trailer, while well-intentioned, was also a bit risky.  Who's to say a fan that believes in the integrity of the franchise won't take his love of the films a bit too far, and attend that screening wearing a bomb as a vest?  That would be my concern.

Maybe in these troubled times, people are seeking more and more solace in their favorite movie franchises, I don't know.  But there are plenty of other activities out there that aren't all movie-related, right?  Or maybe these franchises are like sports teams for geeks, giving them something to root for on a daily basis?  Or possibly we're just seeing the result of Hollywood's merchandising efforts, which maybe just worked a bit too well over the last few decades.

Also starring Dan Aykroyd (last seen in "Pixels"), Ernie Hudson (last seen in "Ghostbusters" (2016)), Sigourney Weaver (last heard in "Finding Dory"), Ray Parker Jr., Ivan Reitman, William Atherton (last seen in "The Sugarland Express"), Paul Feig (last seen in "Spy"), Kurt Fuller (last seen in "The Bonfire of the Vanities"), Dave Coulier, Joe Medjuck, Peter Mosen, Matt Cardona, Jennifer Runyon, Steven Tash, Maurice Lamarche (last seen in "Comic Book: The Movie"), Todd Whalen, Tom Gephardt, Alex Newborn, Robin Shelby, Abigail Gardner, Craig Goldberg and archive footage of Bill Murray (last heard in "The Jungle Book"), Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis (last seen in "The Flintstones").

RATING: 3 out of 10 unanswered phone messages for Ray Parker Jr.

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