Recalibrating who we’re gonna call

I made Cat watch Ghostbusters for the first time last night. She seemed amused but didn’t love it quite as much as I feel is appropriate — I mean, come on, it’s one of the funniest movies ever. Though I’ve seen it enough that on this viewing (probably my dozenth), what I enjoyed most was soaking up all the mid-’80s pop culture (“…and now, on with the countdown”) and connecting the dots to all the Mad Men I’ve seen this year. 1986 marks the midpoint between now and 1960, and it was interesting to see little hints of that vanishing middle-century America in the background — pieces of furniture, older ladies dressed in their hats and greatcoats, round and massive steel cabs, etc. We have a tendency to think of the past in discrete chunks (breaking it into artificial divides like decades and whatnot) but it’s actually much more interesting than that: A spectrum into which new elements are introduced as old ones gradually fade away.

Cat, however, seemed more interested in casting a remake of the movie with contemporary stars. I have to admit, she actually did a pretty great job. I’m averse to Hollywood remakes, but since Bill Murray is too busy golfing to join in for a Ghostbusters sequel (and I question Ivan Reitman’s ability to create a comedy after that stupid movie with David Duchovny), a remake would be OK, I guess.

Peter Venkman: Robert Downey, Jr. Although he’s about a decade older than Murray was at the time of the original film, he’s the only actor we could think of with the appropriate swagger and comedic timing yet who isn’t too handsome (as would be the case with, say, George Clooney).

Ray Stantz: Jason Segal. Doughy guy with a sufficiently childlike perspective to buy a near-condemned firehouse because sliding down the pole is so neat? Yeah. Segal.

Egon Spengler: Daniel Radcliffe. Seems like a weird pick, right? But no, think about it. What other nerdy-looking actor can you think of who takes himself a little too seriously? And the Big Bang Theory guys don’t count, because they are inhuman monsters who exist to destroy human happiness, not actors.

Winston Zedmore: Wanda Sykes. Cat wanted to drop this character because he’s pretty useless as written, but I convinced her otherwise. So instead she decided to cast someone punchier, and female. Wanda Sykes is great at the sort of reactive role that Winston embodied and wouldn’t fade into the background like Ernie Hudson did.

Dana Barret: Cat’s pick was Liv Tyler for her slightly gawky demeanor, but I had to disagree; my choice would be Catherine Zeta-Jones. Even though she’s entirely too beautiful to parallel Sigorney Weaver’s lanky, slightly mannish appearance, she has the ability to go from a straight demeanor underscored with a touch of humor to flat-out weird: Essential for the role.

Louis Tulley: Seth Rogan? I don’t know. No one really does the over-the-top nerd schtick anymore, so gormless doofus seems the closest thing.

Walter Peck: Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who appears to have been cloned from the original actor and whose Modern Family person is basically a more nebbish take on that same high-strung personality.

Gozer: Either David Bowie or Lady Gaga… or better yet, both, combined into some sort of Brundlefly abomination.

OK. I’m done. I promise not to make a habit of recasting movies; I am simply relaying information.

24 thoughts on “Recalibrating who we’re gonna call

  1. For Venkman, I’d go with Paul Rudd. I see flashes of 80s-era Bill Murray in him, that sort of handsome, cocky, but still self-aware goofiness. Plus, it fits right in with your casting, as he had really fantastic chemistry with Jason Segel in I Love You, Man.

  2. Not Jon Heder for Louis Tulley?

    To be honest, I hate Seth Rogan, and wish he’d die in a fire. Or at least not get any more work. He’s an asshole.

  3. I love the Venkman choice, and Winston is… interesting.

    For Tulley, I’d be thinking more along the lines of Steve Carell… with glasses.

    And what? No Janine? I’d cast her before anyone outside of the main four, but then, I largely swear by the cartoon.

    Winston, I can’t help but think of someone like a Samuel L. Jackson or The Rock or something… if only because I think there’s potential in taking someone people would expect to be a badass, have them play that badass part, but then be a complete fish-out-of-water as a result.

    …it’s a latent idea.

  4. Joseph Gordon-Lewitt might work as Egon, although I’m guessing he’s too busy being Serious these days.

  5. Speaking of how elements in America take a while to fade away, I heard a Fresh Air interview with Weiner talking about just that thing for a brief part of it (

    “GROSS: So the new season of “Mad Men” is set in 1964, one year before you’re born. So “Mad Men” is starting to catch up with your life. Is the world starting to look – is the world you’re creating on “Mad Men” starting to look more familiar to you?

    Mr. WEINER: You know, part of the reason I’ve been able to have such good recall on the details of the show is that I lived in Baltimore, Maryland until I was 11 years old, and it was basically exactly the way it was in 1960 or ’59 until 1980. “

  6. I think the way to cast Louis is to go with a younger, relatively unknown actor. Rogen is too entrenched in slackerdom and f-bombs to be effective as the lovable mensch fanboy. Just about any of the kids from Nickelodeon’s (totally underrated) Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide could pull it off.

    Also: “What other nerdy-looking actor can you think of who takes himself a little too seriously?” Stephen Colbert.

    LOVE Wanda Sykes as Winston.

  7. “1986 marks the midpoint between now and 1960”
    …well. That’s my disturbing thought for the day.

    That aside, I would totally watch this remake.

  8. I’d go with Steve Carrell as Louis, Zachary Quinto as Egon and possibly Paul Rudd as Venkmen, although Robert Downey Jr. is a good choice.

  9. When I re-watched Ghostbusters as an adult for the first time, I realized how very much the movie is not just a product of the ’80s, but of the Reagan era. The bad guys (aside from the supernatural) are the scientific establishment, the university, and the EPA.

  10. If only Billy Bob Thorto. We’re a bit younger, he could do Louis. Or maybe Elijah Wood.

    • I dunno how well Billy Bob would do Elijah Wood, or if Elijah is into that sort of thing.

      • And what u had MEANT to say was that a you get Billy Bob Thorton or current Elijah Wood would make a good Louis. Ahem.

  11. Best Lovecraft comedy ever, and after Alien and The Thing, probably the best Lovecraft movie in general.

  12. “We have a tendency to think of the past in discrete chunks (breaking it into artificial divides like decades and whatnot) but it’s actually much more interesting than that: A spectrum into which new elements are introduced as old ones gradually fade away.”

    This is why I like you. Whether it’s intentional or not, you’ve got a good grasp on how history works and an appropriate reverence for it.

  13. James Rolfe, AKA The Angry Video Game Nerd, will ham it up as the Staypuff Marshmallow Man.

  14. Whenever someone tells me they encountered something really 90s, I think, “I LOVED the 90s! let’s see it!” But then I see it, and I think, “No, no, that’s not the 90s, that’s the corpse of the 80s.”

    Anyways, I’m pondering Christopher Charles Mintz-Plasse as Louis. He’s a bit young for it, but I guess that could be a new angle for it. He’s mostly the first thing that came to mind when I thought nerd actor. :/

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