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The first Ghostbusters was a magnificent movie miracle.

Some of the greatest comedy actors of the time (Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis and Dan Aykroyd) joined forces under the guidance of a hot director (Ivan Reitman, coming off Stripes and Meatballs) to merge horror, science fiction, comedy and big-budget special effects. They balanced these elements perfectly—and turned out a classic.

I was not expecting anything near the brilliance or originality of the 1984 original from Paul Feig’s reboot/remake/whatever-you-want-to-call-it entry into a movie franchise that has remained dormant since the miserable 1989 sequel, Ghostbusters 2. Considering the cast that Feig assembled—Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones—I did expect to have a good time.

That didn’t happen. I was bored … super bored. I laughed a total of 2 1/2 times at the new Ghostbusters, and I did not laugh once due to anything the headliners did. It’s as if Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy, The Heat) figured, “Hey, I have these stars and a big budget for special effects. I don’t really need a funny script, do I? These stars can just stand in front of a camera and be funny, right?”

Perhaps they can, but that didn’t happen this time out: Ghostbusters is a stale facsimile of the original. If you watched those lousy preview trailers and worried that the franchise was creatively bankrupt, know that the stupid jokes in that trailer (“That’s gonna leave a mark!”) are about the best laughs the film has to offer. I found myself really annoyed with the haters who judged this movie by those lousy trailers before they saw the completed project. Sadly, I have now joined that camp: I really hated this movie.

The normally reliable Wiig, as the “sensible scientist,” basically stands around looking lost. Comedic firecracker McCarthy, as the trailblazer scientist of the group, bumbles her way through the role with a smile but no material. My current favorite Saturday Night Live star, Kate McKinnon, is the brainy yet eccentric science wizard; she’s allowed to mug like a crack addict on an New York City subway full of inebriated, unarmed billionaires. Leslie Jones, as the street-smart member with no science chops, seems to equate volume with humor. She’s just loud.

After a promising start featuring Zach Woods (Silicon Valley), Ed Begley Jr. and a haunted house, the plot switches to a geek (Neil Casey) looking to cause a ghost apocalypse in Manhattan. He’s planting traps around the city that attract paranormal activity, perhaps because he’s lonely. The new Ghostbusters then band together to conquer the geek and save the city.

The ghosts are dull, fluorescent things bolstered slightly by some decent 3-D effects, if you should choose the more-expensive viewing route. The folks putting together some of the 3-D action did a pretty good job: There are moments where stuff seems to be coming out of the movie frame and suspending in the air in front of you. Those moments won’t make you laugh, but they might wake you up a little.

Andy Garcia as the mayor made me laugh … once. Begley as a paranormal enthusiast made me laugh … once. Chris Hemsworth as a brain-dead receptionist almost made me laugh once, but it was more like a chortle. That’s it for the laugh count.

Aykroyd, Murray, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver all make useless, remarkably lame cameos. Ramis also makes an appearance in one of the movie’s few inspired moments.

To say this film is a disappointment would be an understatement. So far, this summer has blown it with Spielberg, Superman, Batman, Independence Day aliens and now the Ghostbusters. Will Suicide Squad return some dignity to DC? Will Star Trek Beyond give the summer the big-budget fun boost it needs?

Let’s hope the movies get a lot better when it gets cold outside. Let’s also hope that the people steering this franchise have a much funnier script in their hands before they make any further adventures involving proton packs.

Ghostbusters is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews

Dear Mexican: Can you please tell me something? How do you think it’s fair that all the people who come to our country and stay get treated far better than some of the people who have busted their butt all their lives here? Tell me, how is that fair?! You people take all the white man’s jobs and leave us wondering how to support our families, and you people have NEVER heard of the condom, because if you have noticed—I sure have—your trashy kind are taking over. And you would think that if you go to another country, you would respect the people enough to learn the language spoken, which here in the United States of America is ENGLISH! Please go back where you should be, and stop taking all the benefits white people deserve. You all disgust me.

South Carolina Taco Eater

Dear Gabacha: This is what I love about ustedes Know Nothings: Your aggressive ignorance of facts.

A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center revealed that the birthrate for Mexican women is falling sharply, for both Chicanas and mexicanas. And while the birthrate for those mujeres is still higher than the birthrate for gabachas, it’s expected, not so much because Mexicans are naturally fecund, but because immigrants in general tend to have more kiddies than native-born Americans. Don’t believe me? The Pew Research Center also revealed that the percentage of children with foreign-born mothers is as high as it was at the turn of the 20th century, the last time trashy, non-English-speaking immigrants came to this country to save the States from native-born pendejas like yourself.

I checked out of the Newport Beach Public Library a 2012 film titled For Greater Glory merely because my favorite actor (Peter O’Toole) was in it. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself watching a well-told tale of a dramatic piece of Mexican history—La Cristiada—I’d never heard of. It seemed a pretty cut-and-dry instance of good versus evil: President Plutarco Calles in the 1920s brutally repressed Mexican Catholics from practicing their Catholicism.

What surprised me was to then visit the IMDb message board for the movie and find some Mexicans who had viewed the film vehemently taking the side of President Calles. Are Mexicans not so hyper-Catholic as I imagine?

Bewildered WASP

Dear Gabacho: Just because one doesn’t side with the Cristeros doesn’t mean that one can’t be a good Catholic. (And, yes, custodians of Shakespeare: I just used three negatives in a language where double-negatives are a no-no!) And, as typical of Hollywood when it comes to Mexican tales, For Greater Glory grossly simplifies the Cristeros revolt—but instead of me preaching, I’ll direct you to a withering critique offered by Rudy Acuña, the legendary godfather of Chicano studies who’s still at it in his golden years. (He also just put the smackdown on the Mexican’s pal, Ruben Navarrette, and his bizarre attack on undocumented students.) You can find the profe’s piece here, and his summation is one that I agree with: Calles was enforcing the secularization mandates of the Mexican Revolution, which sought not to stop people from expressing their faith, but rather take away the meddling might of the Catholic Church—you know, that whole chingadera about the separation of church and state.

The Catholic Church, like today in the United States when it comes to Obamacare, took Calles’ enforcement of the Mexican Constitution as an existential attack on Mother Church, and the two sides butchered each other. Los Cristeros are still hailed as martyrs in Catholic Mexico, while historians nowadays consider Calles’ attack on Mexican Catholics as a continuation of the country’s constant conflict between the Church and its natives. But if you think Calles was a butcher, you should’ve seen what the padres did to the indigenous folks back in the days—simple facts that Cristeros fans never want to acknowledge, because those priests made Calles look like Blessed John Paul II.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or ask him a video question at youtube.com/askamexicano!

Published in Ask a Mexican