I’m not here to talk about the validity of this movie’s very existence or any ruined childhoods. Let’s just get that out of the way right off the bat. We spent our whole summer doing that. Pumpkin Spice lattes are available and sweaters are an increasingly valid fashion choice, so let’s all just move on.
The extended version of Ghostbusters came out on Blu-ray and DVD this week (the digital version has been available on iTunes for about two weeks now), and offers up about fifteen additional minutes of story peppered in throughout the film. Most of the new scenes merely act as proof that the original cut was tight enough to begin with. Particularly noteworthy was a different two-beat resolution to the portal being opened in the final act of the film. In the theatrical version, they reverse the portal and turn it into a gargantuan ghost trap by shooting the Ecto-1 and the nuclear reactor sitting on top whilst Slimer (Pumpkin Spice lattes, y’all) drives it straight through the portal. The extended version undercuts the suspense of this moment by having them first get the idea to try “crossing the streams.” The ghostbusters all acknowledge this will probably kill them, have a “goodbye, dear friends…” moment, only to have it not really do much and move on to Plan B. Smart move trimming this down, Mr. Feig.
One part that actually added something to the movie was a role completely cut out in the theatrical version. Justin Kirk originally played Kristen Wiig’s uptight professor boyfriend. One thing that always nagged at me about her character was how she had had such a profound experience with a ghost as a kid only to be the most skeptical of the four ghostbusters as a grownup. Kirk (who, sidebar, was brilliant in a role on last season’s You’re The Worst as a hipster film preservationist) and the scenes he’s in serve to highlight how hard she’s been trying to fit in to academia and present herself as normal. This gives Wiig’s character a little more important motivation for her behavior. Some of his scenes go on way too long, so I get why he ended up on the cutting room floor, but a dash of his character in the movie would’ve gone a long way. (Also, shout out to Elizabeth Perkins, whose single scene as another dowdy professor made it into the extended cut. It offered nothing extra to the story, but she deserves a mention, plus, fun!, it makes for a Weeds reunion with Kirk.)
What really makes the digital, Blu-ray or DVD extended cut worth the purchase is actually the supplemental material. Feig is a director that encourages improvisation, and he cast four women that excel in this environment. Check out the “Jokes Aplenty” feature that is basically a string of alternate takes of jokes that made it into the film in different forms. McKinnon and McCarthy in particular go on some terrific pun runs, including a delightful tear about hearses. Also, mark my words: Karan Soni (Bennie, the delivery guy) will BREAK OUT if given a Silicon Valley-type role to take on. His alt takes are just too good.
Feig’s initial instincts for the version released this summer prove to be on target, but there are moments in the extended version that are worth the time.