Movie Review – Ghostbusters : Frozen Empire

by Donald Hanson • May 12, 2024 • Newsy JerseyComments (0)14

Take a look at the two Ghostbusters posed at the front of their respective groups on the posters above. Just like the commercials, they sell the movie on the main characters being Paul Rudd and Bill Murray…

It’s a lie


Paul Rudd and Bill Murray, two A-list stars. The two biggest stars in the movie. The two most entertaining people in the movie. The main draw for people to see the movie beyond the Ghostbusters brand. The two people the audience showed up for, especially Bill Murray since he hasn’t had a major role in a Ghostbusters film since 1989.

Now, look at the picture above
The scene in this picture reminds me of the movie Heat. Heat was the first movie that featured both Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. The thing is, they are in only two scenes together in the entire 3 hour movie. Once, in the middle at a diner talking, and the other a confrontation at the end. Here, we have Bill Murray and Paul Rudd in the same movie, and this scene is promoted both in the trailers and this still photo on the official website for the film, but in this case, it was inexplicably cut out and nowhere to be found. Don’t expect to see this scene if you go see the movie, it’s not there! It has been removed even though part of it is in the trailer. In fact, don’t expect any conversation between the two characters or any meaningful scenes with them together at all. I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure that they don’t say a word to each other in the whole movie.

First, Paul Rudd is actually in the movie a lot… the problem is that he doesn’t really do anything. While he has a lot of screen time, his character is relegated to simply supporting status with no story or important actions of his own. His time is split between doing two things: driving the Ectomobile and trying to win over his step-daughter and prove he is a good Dad. Now, there’s nothing wrong with either of those things. The problem is that he gets nothing else to do. It’s like the third season of the Mandalorian where he is in the show a lot but is just standing around helping out. He is not a protagonist. He doesn’t make anything happen and the story at no point is being told from his perspective or point of view. Those are the giveaways that they a character in a movie or TV show isn’t the main character, despite the poster proclaiming that they are. And that results in an impressively horrible achievement and something I would have thought not possible: making Paul Rudd unfunny. As the film progresses, the audience becomes increasingly frustrated watching an exasperated Paul Rudd be funny only here and there, the rest of the time looking exhausted and at times disheveled, both physically and emotionally. If you see this film, look for the scene where his hair looks like he literally just got out of bed for no particular reason.

Bill Murray is a different story entirely. We have to wait 1 hour until he first appears, then he’s in a scene for about 2 minutes which is halfway decent, then he disappears inexplicable for another 45 minutes to show up right at the end for the final battle where he delivers a few jokes and does not much else. It is a travesty and a insult to the audience that showed up because they were tricked into thinking he would have a real role in the movie.

This is all the more baffling when you see how well the characters of Ray and Winston are handled. Ray and Winston are done very well with Ray being written well and portrayed beautifully. Dan Aykroyd exudes the childlike wonder and enthusiasm that he had in the original, especially the way he reacted with such excitement when Bill Murray’s Venkman got slimed in the hotel. Ray does have a large part in the film and is respected and honored in the proper way while the treatment of Venkman is among the most insulting I have ever scene. Winston has a somewhat smaller but still substantial role. Once again, his portrayal is great. On top of that, the friendship between Ray and Winston is another highlight of the film, written and acted well, evolving and giving insight into the characters personalities.

Photo credit : deadline.com

So if Paul Rudd and Bill Murray aren’t the stars of the movie as presented in the Commercials, Poster and marketing materials, then who is? That would be Phoebe, the granddaughter of Egon. Or at least she has the largest role in the movie and the only real storyline. The problem is that she’s like a cross between Problem Child and Wesley Crusher.

Even after hundreds, if not thousands of people die in New York City as a direct result of something Phoebe does, she doesn’t get punished or have to face the consequences of her actions. The idea presented is that, as long as she feels bad about it, that’s enough and she doesn’t need to face up to it. The film spends a lot of time hitting the audience over the head with the idea that if everyone just listened to Phoebe and got out of her way and let her do whatever she wants, then everything would be okay.

Then we get to the elephant in the room. Egon’s granddaughter, Phoebe, the lead character of the film is gay. The film makers are completely open about it in interviews and the actress who plays the role has talked about it. The reason that it is the elephant in the room is because the movie never actually acknowledges or admits it. They are hitting the audience over the head with it as hard as they can, as you can see in the picture above and how she dresses. But when it comes down to it, they refuse to mention it at all. This is a major problem as it basically ruins the only compelling storyline in the movie.

So the actress who plays Pheobe has explained that the character basically is supposed to be gay but by not saying it leaves it up to the interpretation of the viewer. The problem is that they introduce an obvious romantic interest for her and it’s an important sub-plot. However, the film is unable to come out and say that she’s gay. This would be like if the original Ghostbusters treated Venkman as if he was only interested in a platonic friendship with Dana and that the audience would ave to imply that there is more to it than that. Phoebe is the main protagonist of the movie and the only character beyond Ray that has any real development and story lines centered around them. And her stories are focused on more than Ray. Being that she is the most important character in the film and we see a lot of events from her point of view, her interests in the ghost girl she meets aren’t supposed to be a mystery. The audience is supposed to know what her character’s thoughts and feelings are, and we do know them in every other instance except this one. This hurts the plot line between her and the ghost girl tremendously. Romance is more compelling than friendship. The entire time, we are waiting for the romantic nature of their relationship to be revealed and it never is. At the end, you expect them to kiss, but they don’t. It’s very distracting for the audience. What could have been a heartfelt and touching releationship has been neutered and it leaves you wondering why. We’ve had gay characters in movies and tv shows for decades now. From the movie Booksmart to tv shows like Shadow Hunters and Modern Family.

There are theories about why this was done this way. The largest being the studios’ desire to release the film in China. China famously removed a scene in Star Wars : The Last Jedi of two women kissing and Finn had to be shrunk in size on the Chinese Star Wars : The Force Awakens poster. Yes, the Chinese government has a problem with certain sexual orientations and races, but many countries like the United States don’t. So why sacrifice making the film worse just in the hopes that it will make more money in China. It will almost certainly make less everywhere else. Fixing this and doing it right would have made the film better, but it would have still been bad as a result of everything else the movie does poorly. I don’t know if they are going to make another one, but I really don’t know where they would go from here or if many people care after being burned by this movie in more ways than one.

To be clear, Dan Aykroyd’s Ray and Ernie Hudson’s Winston are great. Kumail Nanjiani and the ghost girl are good. On the other hand, not only does this film use Bill Murray and Paul Rudd as a bait and switch of ridiculous proportions. I haven’t seen a film insult actors this way since the horrible treatment Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill received in the new Star Wars movies, and that’s saying something. Everyone that went to see this movie should get in on a class action lawsuit about fraud in advertising. The film’s performance bears that out. It opened to a disappointing but okay opening weekend but then collapsed in its second weekend. This, of course was a result of bad word of mouth. Hopefully the movie makers will learn from it if they are planning on making another one.



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