Too Much Nostalgia
Ghostbusters: Afterlife Trailer #2
I generally avoid writing articles about trailers (in the singular). Back when this website was a blog ("Musings of the Jewpacabra") I was willing to spill ink (well, digital characters) on trailers because I could just rant until I ranted myself out and trailers were easy fodder. This is site is generally different so I try to wait on judging films until they actually come out, or at the very least reserve all my trailer thoughts for a single article in our quarterly "Trailer Reviews". Picking apart a single trailer isn't normally my focus now.
That said, back when the first trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife came out, I did a bit of a rant about the trailer. In fairness it was really a rant about the toxic community that's grown around Ghostbusters and my confusion over why the Internet Commentariat seemed to love the new trailer while hating the 2016's Answer the Call (aka "Lady Ghostbusters"). I still don't have a better answer for that aside from "toxic masculinity", and the new trailer doesn't really help that matter at all.
We'll skip rehashing all of those arguments this time around (you can go read my previous article about all that), but suffice it to say the same 'net idiots are out there complaining still about Answer the Call while praising the second trailer for Afterlife. The common complaint now is that "Answer the Call was unfunny," which, well, comedy is subjective sure, but that film had a lot of great humor in it (as I said in my review I find the film to be as funny as the original Ghostbusters, while also being a movie I haven't seen hundreds of times, so it's more funny to be currently). People are gonna grouse and I don't think we should expect anything less from MRA idiots Online.
The problem I'm having is that the second trailer for Afterlife is still lacking the funny. The thing everyone can agree on is that the Ghostbusters films are comedies first with the fantastic elements giving the improv-heavy films their through-line. If you're going to be a Ghostbusters film you have to, first and foremost, be funny. The 2016 reboot understood that and, again, I thought it was terribly funny (with an especially game cast).
What I'm not seeing from this second trailer (and I didn't see in the first) is any kind of humor. Just to make sure, I went back and watched all the trailers from the previous films (including the generally unfunny Ghostbusters II) and all of them managed to work the humor from their films into the trailers. It's not that they sold themselves as fantasy movies, they put themselves forward as comedies that just so happened to have fantasy elements. They all knew what they were selling.
This is the first thing that has me worried about Afterlife because this film doesn't seem funny at all, at least from the trailers. Much has been made about how this film ignores 2016's Answer the Call and goes back to the original timeline for a third film in that series (and fourth adventure if you count the XBox 360/PS3 game which brought back all the original cast, which the cast certainly counts). It brings in a cast of kids to play the new "Ghostbusters" and it highlights how they're the grandkids of Egon (or their friends they make in this new location, a small town in the middle of Oklahoma). But I'm not seeing humor.
Admittedly there's only one comedic actor in the cast: Paul Rudd. The original three films (counting Answer the Call) were all improv-heavy films because their lead actors all largely came from Saturday Night Live and they knew how to riff on a script to find the funny. This current cast of kids, though, don't come from a similar pedigree. I doubt they've ever worked on a film where they were supposed to improv all day, and I don't know if director Jason Reitman (son of original director Ivan Reitman) even knew to have them improv for this script. Paul Rudd is a very funny guy (just watch the montage of him trolling Conan O'Brien with clips of Mac and Me) and he might have tried to improv, but none of that is in the trailers.
Nostalgia, though, is front and center in the trailers. This trailer goes out of its way to show off the old tech from the original films (not Answer the Call) just like the previous trailer did, but this second trailer goes even further: it brings back the villains from the original film. We're not just talking the Stay Puft Marshmallow Men (tiny versions of which are seen in a grocery store in the trailer), but also the demon dogs from the first film and, I'm pretty sure, Zuul. Instead of doing anything new with the material this film seems to be trading entirely on nostalgia. "This is what you liked from the original film so let's give it to you again!"
What this reminds me of is the exact same move Disney made with Star Wars, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker after the MRA idiots Online. complained about Rian Johnson's Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. They complained about a lot of things, but one of the characters to bear much of the their ire was Kelly Marie Tran's Rose Tico, a female character dropped into the eighth film who then became the whipping-girl for the commentators. They harassed the poor actress until she dropped off social media, and instead of saying to those assholes, "no, we will not listen to you," Disney completely sidelined Rose in the ninth film. "You hated her, and Episode VIII didn't make as much money as we'd like, so we'll get rid of her and you'll come back, right?"
It's the same group of MRA idiots that complained about After the Call and it does feel like Sony has capitulated just like Disney did. "You just want nostalgia? You want us to get rid of the icky girls? Done!" Hell, Internet commentators are complaining because the new He-Man series on NetflixOriginally started as a disc-by-mail service, Netflix has grown to be one of the largest media companies in the world (and one of the most valued internet companies as well). With a constant slate of new internet streaming-based programming that updates all the time, Netflix has redefined what it means to watch TV and films (as well as how to do it). had the temerity to make Teela (one of the original characters from the original show) the lead character for this new adventure. The nostalgia junkies want their shows and movies just as they left them (and they especially don't want women in lead roles).
What these morons aren't getting, and what the studios are failing at as well, is that regurgitating nostalgia back at us fails to give us anything new. Episode VIII was interesting because it gave us something new (and was the best Star WarsThe modern blockbuster: it's a concept so commonplace now we don't even think about the fact that before the end of the 1970s, this kind of movie -- huge spectacles, big action, massive budgets -- wasn't really made. That all changed, though, with Star Wars, a series of films that were big on spectacle (and even bigger on profits). A hero's journey set against a sci-fi backdrop, nothing like this series had ever really been done before, and then Hollywood was never the same. film we've had since the original trilogy). After the Call set aside the original continuity so it could focus on new characters with a new story that did its own thing. He-Man put Teela front and center to it could give us a deeper, and more interesting, story than the toy commercials that were the original series's episodes. The same old thing gets boring, but new ideas make even an old property feel fresh and interesting again.
The nostalgia junkies want what the want, and with Afterlife it seems like they're getting exactly what they want in that regard. But right now it doesn't feel fresh, and it certainly doesn't seem funny, and I still have my doubts that it's going to be any good at all. You know what I would have liked instead of this film? A sequel to Answer the Call. That film had an inventive spirit and we need more of that in this franchise.