One of my favorite movie sagas of all time featured a quartet of supernatural apparition fighters, known as the Ghostbusters. Starring funny men Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, the late Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson, Ghostbusters was a science fiction comedy about a group of scientists who started a business of ridding New York City of ghosts.
The movie became a cultural phenomenon with a wave of merchandise and paraphernalia, and the success that the 1984 movie had spawned off a sequel five years later. I, myself, had the Ghostbusters action figures, the Ecto-1 car, and the firehouse where they stored and disposed the ghosts that they captured — all of which I later sold at a garage sale for probably far less than I could have gotten.
We currently are living in a world where Hollywood is running out of original film ideas and has taken to making sequels from movies more than a decade or two ago. Some examples include the 2008 release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones series which came out nearly 20 years after the third movie); Live Free or Die Hard (2007) and A Good Day to Die Hard (2013), the fourth and fifth movies of the Die Hard series, which came out more than decade after the third movie; and Jurassic World, set to release sometime in 2015, 14 years after the third installment of the Jurassic Park series.
I have no problem with movie sequels. In fact, some of my favorite movies are a part of a trilogy or series, because I love stories and epic sagas and I like to see the same characters I know and love become part of more complex and elaborate story lines. I know that sequels rarely — if ever — are better than their originals, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the plots.
However, there are certain movie series that lose my interest and those are ones in which the cast is dramatically different from one movie to the next. Home Alone and Home Alone 2 were great movies and are still a part of my Christmas movie watching. However, the third and fourth installments of the movie series came out, but gone was Macaulay Culkin and his family. No thanks. Other such series include Revenge of the Nerds, The Cutting Edge, Urban Legend, Problem Child, Major League, The Karate Kid, and many more. All of these series include at least one movie — sometimes two or more — with a different core cast, leaving you feeling disconnected from the story.
This feeling of discontinuity is one reason why I was disconcerted to hear that the third installment of the Ghostbusters series will feature four women as the spirit chasers. Obviously, with Ramis passing away last year and the rest of the Ghostbusters getting up there in age, an additional sequel featuring the same core cast was impossible to do.
The new Ghostbusters, reportedly, will be played by Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. Wiig and McCarthy teamed up in Bridesmaids, a hilarious movie in its own right, while McKinnon and Jones are from Saturday Night Live fame.
I have no doubts that there will be funny moments in this movie. McCarthy’s buffoonish personality, Jones’ history as a stand-up comic, McKinnon’s work on SNL and Wiig’s versatility will certainly give the scriptwriters — one of whom is former Ghostbuster, Aykroyd — a lot of possibilities. And I also believe that as a standalone movie, this could have promise.
But as part of a trilogy with a big change in cast, it loses a lot of its sentimentality and will have an almost-impossible standard to live up to.