Reitman and Ghostbusters 3.

Ivan Reitman: Director of Ghostbusters; Considered by many to be a master of comedic film making; made an Officer of the Order of Canada “for his contributions as a director and producer, and for his promotion of the Canadian film and television industries” . Recently Ivan announced his intention to helm the upcoming Ghostbusters III should it get the green light. Ghostheads across the globe are beside themselves. Maybe it’s because I’m a broken down, bitter; empty husk of a man, but I am not sharing this out-of-body experience with my ghosthead brethren.

I should love this guy. He directed one of my favourite movies of all time after all. The thought of the original team all coming back together should make my shriveled black heart grow 2 sizes this day. Alas that is not happening. “But Geoff!” you ask “why aren’t you on board? What possible reason could there be?” Well, I’m going to tell you. That’ll teach you to have me pretend that you’ve asked me that question.

Here’s my problem: Ghostbusters is practically the only Ivan Reitman film I like. I think Reitman’s reputation is largely undeserved. The movies that people point to as masterpieces besides Ghostbusters just aren’t very good in my estimation. Ivan’s reputation started with Meatballs. It’s a cheesy coming-of-age kind of comedy of a variety quite popular in the early 80s. It stars Bill Murray as a summer camp administrator. It’s goofy, mildly amusing, reasonably raunchy and Bill Murray steals the show as per usual. People loved it when it came out but it hasn’t aged well. The movie truly owes all of it’s lasting appeal (which isn’t much) to Bill Murray.

Next up is Stripes. Once again starring Bill Murray, Stripes is the story of an unemployed slacker (Murray) and his friend (Harold Ramis) who decide to escape from the reality of paying bills by joining the army, “hilarity” ensues. And then we arrive at Ghostbusters; once again starring Bill Murray. Are we beginning to detect a pattern here? I’m starting to suspect that Ivan Reitman’s success has a lot less to do with his abilities as a director and more to do with the natural talent, charisma and popularity of a young Bill Murray.

Like George Lucas and Star Wars, Ivan Reitman gets more credit than he likely deserves for the success of these films. It’s my firm belief that the magic of Ghostbusters is a result of the stellar cast and the excellent screenplay. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Ghostbusters had been in the hands of a great director on top of all of this. We will never know the answer to that question but that’s okay, Ghostbusters is awesome just the way it is.

Alas lightning didn’t strike twice and Ghostbusters II was a very mediocre film. The affection I feel for GBII is solely the result of my fanatical devotion to the franchise. Which may be a testament to both the film and the franchise as I can not say the same thing for the prequel trilogy, and my love for Star Wars dwarfs almost anything else. Where the prequels are a crime against reason however, GBII is just kind of weak on all fronts. Is this Reitman’s fault? Not entirely. Ivan didn’t write the film. Would GBII have been better in the hands of another director? Possibly but that would largely depend on that director’s ability to realize he’s working with a crap script and get rewrites.

So why not give Ivan another chance? Well, partly because he’s already made a shitty Ghostbusters movie and I don’t care to give him the opportunity to make another one. Mostly however, it’s because aside from Ghostbusters, Ivan has never made what I would truly consider to be a great movie. He’s made some okay movies, but never a really good one. He has made a lot of truly terrible movies though and that’s my real concern. When there are at least 3 terrible movies for every 1 “good” movie on a director’s filmography, well, I call that a pretty shitty track record.

I know, I know. It’s all well and good for me to bitch about Reitman, it’s not like I have the chops to step into his shoes and make a better movie. I have come prepared though. Allow me to offer up a list of directors I think would be excellent choices to helm the third Ghostbusters movie and my reasoning behind each choice.

Edgar Wright – (Dir. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Etc.)

I think Edgar Wright is an amazing talent. His comedic sensibilities, his understanding of story; dramatic structure, emotional subtext and the psychology of human interaction are what make his work special. Anyone can make a funny Zombie movie, there’s plenty of humour to be mined there. What Wright does that makes his film special is that his movie is about relationships and friendships. And it’s moving and interesting and funny and engaging all on its own. Replace zombie apocalypse with some manner of personal tragedy or natural disaster and it wouldn’t effect the core of the story. Wright has a gift for making you care about or take interest in all of the characters he puts on the screen. I would love to see him bring his sensibilities to Ghostbusters.

Richard Linklater – (Dir. Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, School of Rock, A Scanner Darkly, Etc.)

Linklater is one of my favourite directors for much the same reasons that I love Edgar Wright’s work. Linklater has a really firm understanding of character and the psychology of human interaction. His movies are funny, moving; poignant and interesting. He has a very diverse filmography and I think his experience and his sensibilities would make him an excellent choice as director of the next Ghostbusters film.

Steven Soderbergh – (Dir. The Limey, Traffic, Oceans 11, Solaris, Etc.)

Soderbergh is a truly interesting filmmaker. He has explored a wide range of styles and stories. He’s probably not the first person that comes to mind when you’re thinking comedy. I think that’s a good thing. I want the next Ghostbusters film to be more than just a comedy. Soderbergh has been magic with ensemble casts in the past. His Ocean’s movies are clever, funny, exciting and truly fun to watch. I would love to see him apply that same ability to the next Ghostbusters film.

Wes Anderson – (Dir. Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic, etc.)

Wes Anderson makes movies I love. His sense of humour, his penchant for the absurd and making it seem totally mundane and pedestrian really connects with me. He is another director who seems to have a magic touch with ensemble casts. I don’t know what a Ghostbusters film in his hands would be like. A lot of the humour of Ghostbusters comes from the way these outrageous supernatural events are grounded in this world of the ordinary and mundane where the Ghostbusters are essentially supernatural janitors or Orkin men. I think that aspect of the franchise would fit well with Anderson and I’d pay to see that.

Spike Jonze – (Dir. Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Where the Wild Things Are)

Spike Jonze has mind bending filmic sensibilities. He’s also a gifted writer and truly understands the importance of character. I find his sense of humour and comic timing to be very sharp. He has an easy natural way with genres and seems comfortable moving between them. I personally found his recent adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are incredibly moving, raw and honest. Not words you would expect to be applied to an adaptation of a children’s book that was 10 sentences long. Jonze took the essence of that story and the soul of those illustrations and turned them into something exceptional. I don’t know what he’d do with Ghostbusters, but like everyone else on this list, I’d pay to see it.

There are other directors I would be interested in seeing take on the series, but this is my A list. Other directors worth mentioning would be Liam Lynch, Ruben Fleischer, Robert Rodriguez, Peter Jackson and Jason Reitman (Son of Ivan Reitman interestingly enough).

Anyway, that’s where my head is on Ghostbusters 3.

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~ by Pagz on February 15, 2010.

One Response to “Reitman and Ghostbusters 3.”

  1. How about Harold Ramis? He’s successfully directed (and often produced and/or co-written) several films with Bill Murray, including Caddyshack and Groundhog Day… and who knows the Ghostbusters franchise better?

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