When critiquing anything as a professional, it is important to separate your personal biases from the overall review so that you can review whatever it is you are reviewing from the most objective place possible. A film review on a popular site in particular should focus on arguing for or against that particular movie based on the merits of the film alone, without outside influence. Well unfortunately, Christy Lemire over at rogerebert.com must have missed this memo entirely with her review of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a review permeated with the foul stench of bitterness and disdain for the fans of the franchise that it sours any sort of insight that can be found within.
After only the two introductory paragraphs of her review of Afterlife, Lemire launches into another paragraph dedicated to a long tangent on how much she hates Ghostbusters fans. She mentions the chaotic disaster that was the release of the 2016 reboot and her firm beliefs that the only reason anybody criticized the film was because sexist men can’t stand to see women be Ghostbusters, that is unless they trade in the jumpsuits for more revealing outfits and they look hot while they’re doing it. “…it dared to feature women busting ghosts. That’s men’s work! Women are allowed to answer the phone at Ghostbusters headquarters, and they can be possessed by an ancient demon from another dimension as long as they still look sexy, but that’s about it,” Lemire rants.
This flawed, childish even, belief is baffling to me that it was able to make it onto such an esteemed site that was once host to the opinions of Roger Ebert himself, one of the most influential and poetic film critics of all time. Yes, some of the hate thrown towards Ghostbusters (2016) was the result of sexism. But if you look anywhere online or talk to the fans, you will know that much of the hate was the result of the film’s godawful writing. Paul Feig took a comedy masterpiece that excels in dry, deadpan humor with witty writing and tried to remake it (clumsily, might I add) as a slapstick comedy with way too much of a reliance on cheap physical humor and elementary gross-out gags. I could go on about why Ghostbusters (2016) is a failure and an insult, but I digress.
This section of the review tarnishes any points that Lemire may make later on, as it shows that she cannot separate her bitterness towards the 2016 film’s reception from her thoughts on Afterlife as a standalone product. It calls into question whether she truly hated Afterlife, or if she’s simply writing a scathing review so that it bombs at the box office and Ghostbusters fans can feel the disappointment she felt when the 2016 reboot underperformed.
It’s not like she’s not allowed to address the controversy surrounding Ghostbusters (2016), as that was a major talking point surrounding that film’s release. But to approach that controversy in such a simple minded way, with wording that is so rich with seething anger and passive aggressiveness towards the fanbase, is one of the most misguided decisions I’ve seen made by a major critic. It sours anything and everything else you have to say in the eyes of people who disagree with your position on Ghostbusters (2016), ultimately making you a a biased and unreliable source.
Lemire’s review, along with several others, proceed to lambast Afterlife for its frequent nostalgic throwbacks and familiar elements to the original 1984 film, yet they defend Ghostbusters (2016) which suffers from this problem way more than Afterlife could ever dream of. Personally, I adored Ghostbusters: Afterlife. It is true, I am a lifelong fan of the franchise, which also makes me a biased source, but I also watch a lot of movies and am more critical than the average viewer. I need more than just cheap nostalgia and endless references to enjoy a film, which is why movies like Ready Player One and Free Guy were huge duds for me. So speaking as a fan of great films first and Ghostbusters second, let me tell you this: the movie is fantastic. There’s familiar elements and some cheap nostalgic references, sure, but these moments don’t overshadow the lovable characters, fun and spooky atmosphere, wonderful direction/camerawork, and touching moments of heart that pays true respect to the original 1984 film. Unlike Lemire would have you believe, this is a movie crafted with true care for the franchise by Jason Reitman.
Go see it in theaters and show it some love so that we can show these biased critics that their words mean nothing to us once they begin to let their personal feelings overshadow their objective thoughts on the film. And also because Afterlife is just fun as hell and I want you all to have a good time.