Bustin' still makes us feel good

Ghostbusters III (2003)
Directed by Tara Reid

The hottest ticket at this year's Mallorca International Film Festival was undoubtedly the eagerly-awaited Ghostbusters III, which was shown as a rough cut with live musical accompaniment from a reunited Raydio Featuring Ray Parker, Jr. and Ray Parker III with Special Guest Ray Parker. The standing-room-only crowd was treated to a preview of what is sure to be the box office hit of the year. The problem is, the movie is just not very good.

American Pie star Tara Reid makes her directorial debut with the third installment, and as illustrated by some obvious missteps, she is not really up to the task. One curious element is that she interrupts the movie several times by inserting footage of herself talking disparagingly about former boyfriend Carson Daly, seemingly using the opportunity to publicly divulge the particulars of their breakup. A few of these monologues (and there are about eight of them) get painfully intimate, especially her horrific description of Daly's violent alcoholic temper and "micro-weiner." Hopefully these scenes will be cut for the theatrical release, as they simply get in the way of the plot.

Reid has made the unpopular decision to assemble a cast of unknowns for G3 (as they're calling it), dispensing with Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis in favor of, apparently, her younger brother and his friends. In fact, much of the film seems like it was cobbled together from handheld digital video footage of various family get-togethers and parties. True, most of these scenes have been enhanced with superimposed animated ghosts, but you'd think that given the studio's $50 million budget, she could have gone the extra mile and actually filmed new footage instead of assembling a hodgepodge of movie files from her i.Mac hard drive.

Even more distressing is the inclusion of two full episodes of "The Real Ghostbusters," obviously recorded off local television, and presented complete with commericals and, in one instance, the first two minutes of "Living Single." Couldn't she at least have requisitioned the original masters from the studio instead of cutting corners by crudely transferring what seem to be 1994 VHS tapes to digital, and then just pasting the files into the final cut of the film?

Newcomers Tommy Reid and Jana Evan-Poole play the son and daughter of Peter Venkman, who we are told has died busting ghosts in Prague. Ernie Hudson returns for a cameo as their mentor, and most of the plot revolves around him training them on how to bust. This is accomplished through a series of, if I counted correctly, twelve consecutive montage sequences set to different cover versions of popular 80s tunes (the only remarkable one being Kelly Clarkson's remake of Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer." Indeed, it reached the point where I was wondering whether there would be any more dialogue in the film.

The plot thickens when a diabolical warlord (Will Ferrell, dressed up to resemble Osama bin Laden) unleashes "TEN MILLION GHOSTS" in an attempt to conquer the world. I hate to break it to the filmmakers, but there's no way that "TEN MILLION GHOSTS!" is going to catch on as a national buzz-phrase. Then, disappointingly, the new teen 'Busters manage to destroy all the evil ghosts by calling on the ghosts of those who died in the World Trade Center collapse. This is contrived and manipulative moviemaking, and I for one did not appreciate it.

As a special treat for festival goers, Raydio Featuring Featuring Ray Parker, Jr. and Ray Parker III with Special Guest Ray Parker played an impromptu concert immediately following the screening, joined on stage by surprise guest Rick Moranis, who handled lead vocals for "Ghostbusters" and also the new single "Ghostbusters Know Where It'z At" (co-written by Jay-Z, who unfortunately could not be in attendance).

Review by Josh Tabb