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Ghostbusters 2016 Junior Movie Novelization Book Review

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Aug. 9, 2016 at 7:11 PM , Categories: Books, 2016 Parody Remake
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Ghostbusters: Movie Novelization by Stacia Deutsch is a young adult book based on the new Ghostbusters movie. The 5"x7.5" paperback tome, consisting of 139 pages, is printed with the same sized font and paper stock typical for paperback novels. There is another movie novelization by Nancy Holder, which was published by Tor. To avoid any confusion, this one will be referred to as the "junior novelization", and that one is the "adult novelization". Of all of the Simon Spotlight books, this one is the most text-heavy and image-light, making it suitable for an older child/tween than Proud To Be A Ghostbuster, Who You Gonna Call?, and Ghostbuster's Handbook. Released by the Simon and Schuster imprint, Simon Spotlight, this book carries a list price of $6.99, but you can always find it a little cheaper at Amazon, where an eBook version is also available.

Over 18 chapters and a prologue, Ghostbusters: Movie Novelization adapts the movie script written by Paul Feig and Katie Dippold into a more straightforward telling of the story. That means that, if you didn't like the movie (which I didn't), you may like this novelization because, due to the nature of the different formats, it eliminates a lot of the problems that the movie suffers from. Of course, author Stacia Deutsch must still adhere to Feig's and Dippold's story. It's not like she can tell her own tale.

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The novel is based on the script, not the final film, so it's not 100% the same as the movie. This becomes apparent when we are introduced to Erin at the start of Chapter 1. She is in her apartment, getting dressed for work, while watching the Ghost Jumpers TV show. In the movie, she's already on campus when we first see her and the TV show is only seen a little later on in the lab. Erin had a boyfriend named Phil Hudson, who also worked at Columbia University, and a mentor named Phyllis Adler, who was a bit of a jerk.

Due to the nature of the different formats, the novel eliminates the pacing issues and stupidity of the movie, so the story flows better. You'll find that Kevin isn't quite as stupid in the book. He's still dumb as a bag of rocks (he still tries to put his hand through the fish tank), but stuff like the "bang gong, put fingers over eyes" gag, and the lens-less glasses, are gone. Kevin's big-boobed ghost logo is replaced with a "silly looking cartoon ghost". A lot of his gags in the film are visual, and that does not translate well to the printed word. +1 for the novel.

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As I was reading the book, I kinda felt like I was seeing an alternate cut of the film because there was enough new material and enough material removed that it felt different. On page 53, Rowan meets a hotel guest who, due to having ectoplasm dripped on her, has a ghost living inside her back. That would have been a really cool visual effect, if it were in the film. Later on, after the climax of the story (on page 132) is a reference to the original film, when a reporter interviews a man who said that he "got into a cab being driven by a skeleton". Also, the post-credits scene is not in the book.

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A lot of the really inappropriate and dumb stuff from the film is not present in the book, such as the Dean's endless middle finger gag. Patty still slaps Abby in the possession scene, but the "Power of Patty compels you" line is MIA. We still have the lame stage dive, but Patty's "race or lady thing" line is replaced with, "How dare you let a lady hit the floor? Pick me up now!" The mayor's aide, Jennifer Lynch, shows a video on her laptop of what exactly "Mass Hysteria" is.

There are a few scenes that were deleted from the film, which still appear in the novel, that I wish were deleted from the novel as well. The "Kevin makes military and police dance" sequence (reused alongside the end credits) pops up on page 113, and just reading it made me feel dumber. When the Ghostbusters are relaxing at the headquarters eating pizza, Abby and Erin tell how they bonded as kids over a science fair project about the ghost barrier, and then pull out their old demonstration and act it out with a rap song. This would have stopped the movie dead (as if Feig didn't do that already with other bits). The rap was painful to read, so I know it would have been painful to see and hear. I wonder if they even filmed that scene. Oh, and the juvenile fart EVP joke is still present, too.

Some of the original Ghostbusters-actor cameos are different in the novel. Annie Potts' hotel clerk is now a man. Dan Aykroyd's cab driver cameo is extremely brief and lacks its "Ain't afraid of no ghosts" punchline. Lady Slimer (voiced by Ghostbusters II's Slimer, Robin Shelby) is nowhere to be found. And then there's a character deleted from the film that would have made for a great cameo. On pages 119 and 120, a "confused tenant" wanders into the Mercado lobby and is assumed by Rowan to be a fifth ghostbuster. If Rick Moranis were to have ever appeared in the film, I could totally see him playing this role.

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Eight pages of color photos appear in middle of book, between pages 76 and 77. They are arranged with more style than the photos used in the score album, which just proves, like I said in my review, that the art design on the score album was lazy and uninspired.

Up to this point, I've had nothing but good things to say about the novel. To be fair, I need to point out that the novel isn't perfect. There are spots where the author writes something that makes no sense if you had not seen the film. On page 63, she writes that "Patty's uncle's hearse [is] now called Ecto-1", but fails to state why is it now called Ecto-1. Sure, Feig and Dippold probably didn't include an explanation in the script, and the original film didn't either (we're never told why Ray chose that name for the vanity plate), but that's why this is a novelization and not a reprint of the script itself. FYI: In Richard Mueller's novelization of the original film, this isn't an issue because Ray has a line of dialogue (on page 94) in which he tells Peter that "it's not a car, it's an Ectomobile", and the car is always referred to as such. The same with the Larry Milne novelization. (Both novels are available on the Ghostbusters Books page here on Spook Central.)

On page 136, Stacia Deutsch writes that "Erin and Abby tried the Abby-and-Holtzmann elaborate handshake". Since this handshake was never mentioned before in the novel - unlike the movie, where Abby and Jillian Holtzmann do the handshake in their lab in front of Erin early in the film - I have to wonder why the author thought it should be mentioned at all. It's a visual gag that wouldn't even make sense in the printed form, especially to someone who didn't see the film first.

What I just mentioned are the only problems I found with the story in the book. Any other problems have to do with the story by Feig and Dippold, and not Deutsch's adaptation of it. This would include the amateur-level dialogue present in some sections that reads like bad fan fiction. I should know, as I've written bad fan fiction. For example, here's an except from pages 59 and 60 right after Erin and Abby perform their old science fair presentation and rap song:
Abby and Erin laughed, hugging and celebrating. "We remembered it!"

Holtzmann joined them in the hugs. "I am so happy you two are together again. So happy," she said.

Erin and Abby then looked at Patty.

"I was all set to make fun of you, but that was actually beautiful," Patty admitted. "It was good you had each other."
Later on, on pages 75 and 76, Erin kissing the ghost trap is made into more of a thing than in the movie. Not only does she kiss it at the theater after the bust, but she does so again back at headquarters:
"Guys. It's time to celebrate. This is what 'legit' feels like." She grabbed the trap and gave it another kiss.

"Okay, you gotta stop kissing the trap," Abby warned.

"I know. But it's like, the more you guys say 'Don't kiss the trap', the more I want to kiss the trap." Erin raised the trap to Holtzmann. "Get in on this!"
This just makes Erin look really stupid, or like she has some kind of brain damage. What kind of college-educated person does something like that, and multiple times, no less? Clearly, this behavior is in Feig's and Dippold's script, and is not a product of Deutsch's imagination, as Erin kisses the trap in the movie, too.

Okay, time to wrap this up...

If I knew nothing of the film before reading the book - and I mean absolutely nothing; no reading the production ins and outs, or viewing any trailers, or anything else - and this book was my first and only exposure to the story, I would have loved it. Stacia Deutsch does a better job of telling the story than Paul Feig does in the movie. Print is not only NOT dead, in this case, it far surpasses the motion picture.
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In Loving Memory of Joel Richard Rudoff (July 28, 1944 - January 20, 2014)

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