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Ghostbusters: Afterlife - First Trailer Review

 By Paul Rudoff on Dec. 10, 2019 at 11:55 PM , Categories: Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Ghostbusters: Afterlife

As an early Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus present, the first trailer for the new Ghostbusters movie came out yesterday, which is now officially known as Ghostbusters: Afterlife most everywhere and Ghostbusters: Legacy in Germany. I'm going to share my thoughts on the trailer in a sort-of running commentary form, though I won't go over every single shot. BE FOREWARNED: THERE ARE SOME MINOR PLOT SPOILERS IF YOU KEEP READING.

Before I begin, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this past Friday, Vanity Fair published a semi-detailed synopsis of the movie, along with a few publicity stills. Since it helps to give the trailer footage some context, here's a plot synopsis derived from theirs, and stuff I surmised from the trailer.
Single mom Callie (Carrie Coon), her science-obsessed daughter Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), and gearhead son Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), have left their life in Chicago behind to move to the small town of Summerville, Oklahoma after inheriting property from Egon Spengler - the father she didn't know. As the family arrives at the old farm, they begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters. Trevor and Phoebe learn who their grandfather was, and whether they're ready to continue his legacy.

In the collapsing barn of their farmhouse, Trevor finds an old car, bloomed with rust, hidden beneath a tarp, bearing an "Ecto-1" license plate. Elsewhere in the house, which is packed with a mountain of books and lots of bizarre technology, Phoebe finds a device that reads psychokinetic energy. While her brother tinkers with the car, Phoebe finds herself transfixed by the mystery of their new town - not just by the peculiar subjects in their dilapidated home, but strange rumblings from a nearby mine.

When the town experiences a series of unexplained earthquakes, the children enlist the help of their summer school teacher Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd), who was a kid when the "Manhattan Crossrip of 1984" occurred. Although later generations may think of it as a myth, or not think of it at all, he remembers it obsessively and is excited to pass on what he knows. He might think he already knows a lot, but all of them are about to get an education in the otherworldly.
The trailer is embedded below, so feel free to watch it before reading on. Also, click on all framegrabs for the original 1920x802 images.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife Trailer - Domestic (12/9/2019)

View on YouTube

The trailer starts right away with action as a bunch of teenagers arrive at an abandoned mine. A girl asks Trevor why his family has come to the town, to which he replies, "we're completely broke".

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To show how broke the family is, the trailer gives us a shot of an Eviction Notice being put onto the door of their former place of residence. Zooming in on that shot, we learn that before moving to Egon's old farmhouse, they lived at Anderson East Estates on Barneson Street in Chicago, Illinois. Their landlord was named Matthew Cohen, and the eviction is Case No. CP44400-203.

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They pack their bags and move to Oklahoma, which does not thrill the kids, who are both sporting dark curly hair, like a young Harold Ramis. Eventually they arrive at the farmhouse.

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Cutting back to the kids at the mine, Trevor and the girl are sitting in a rickety elevator car a top a deep mine shaft. The car jostles out of nowhere and a scary sound is heard. All of the teens go to investigate. They look down the shaft, which is now filled with an eerie green light. Already, this film is scarier than anything in Paul Feig's film.

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Without warning, something green and spectral shoots out of the shaft. Cut to the Sony/Columbia and BRON logos. Bron Studios is a Canadian motion picture company based in British Columbia owned by Bron Media Corporation. I am surprised not to see the Ghost Corps logo, too.

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We get our first look at the little town of Summerville, with the water tower looming in the foreground. While you won't find Yakko, Wakko, and Dot there, you will find that water tower in the town of Drumheller, up in Alberta, Canada. That is but one of many Canadian filming locations, which the CBC has mapped out here. (Thanks to MrMichaelT for finding the link.)

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Mr. Grooberson is curious to find out why a town that is nowhere near any tectonic plates or fault lines, has no fracking, or even loud music, is shaking on a daily basis. To help solve the mystery, he drew a map. TB3 at GBFans figured out that Grooberson's earthquake map is based in reality, with Summerville being a stand-in for the real-life Woodward, Oklahoma. (Thanks to MrMichaelT for finding the link.) We then see various Summerville citizens bracing for the shaking.

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Back at Egon's old farmhouse, Callie, Phoebe, and Trevor take cover under a table, but not before we bear witness to some Symmetrical Book Stacking™.

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At another point in the film, when the house isn't shaking, Phoebe does a sliding puzzle on the floor. The trailer would seem to indicate that solving the puzzle reveals a hidden compartment containing an old ghost trap. Whether that's actually the case, or this is just an instance of a trailer editing two completely different scenes together to make it seem like something else, won't be known until July 10th. One thing we do know that that Phoebe found the trap in her living room, and that she brought it to school for "show and tell". Mr. Grooberson is very impressed with her "replica ghost trap", though Phoebe has no clue what that is. Once he identifies it, we hear some haunting piano playing, reminiscent of Elmer Bernstein's score.

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Up pops "From Writer and Director Jason Reitman" over some footage of a spooky boiler room somewhere in Summerville. Also popping up in that boiler room is a greyish/green ghost blob.

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Back at school, Mr. Grooberson shows his young charges some footage of the "Manhattan Crossrip of 1984", which he likens to The Walking Dead. Well, there was a zombie driving a taxi cab, so he's not entirely wrong. The kids know nothing of any spectral shenanigans because "there hasn't be a ghost sighting in 30 years". The footage he shows them on the computer is of the Ghostbusters arriving outside the Shandor Building. It should be noted that this is NOT footage from the final cut of Ghostbusters. The shots seen in the film are from completely different angles. I don't think we've seen the source of these new angles before. Also, blurred out on the right side of the computer screen is a photo of Dan and Bill standing outside the firehouse.

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Phoebe explores the farm using a P.K.E. Meter that she found somewhere. She tracks a signal to a shed.

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Inside (presumably) she finds a pole that still works...

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...leading to Egon's secret lab.

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It is there that we finally see Egon's prized collection of spores, molds, and fungus. About damn time!

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Elsewhere in the lab, Phoebe finds a dusty old Proton Pack.

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Cutting back to the earlier school scene, Mr. Grooberson is staring intently at the ghost trap when a light green mist emerges from it. Could that be Slimer? God, I hope not. Slimer has been done to death; pun intended. Can we, for once, have something Ghostbusters that does NOT have Slimer in it?!? Is that too much to ask? Let the little spud rest in peace already.

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Cutting back to Egon's lab, Phoebe finds his collection of jumpsuits.

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The text "NEXT SUMMER" comes on screen, followed by a shot of Phoebe and her classmate (played by Logan Kim) going to the abandoned Shandor Mining Co. mines, which was established in 1927. Can you guess why this town is having supernatural troubles? I bet I know who the "architect" of the town was :-) FYI: As Egon told us in the first film, Shandor started his Gozer cult in 1920. That means he was already an established occultist by the time his company built these mines.

While this is going on, we hear Peter's line - "Call it fate. Call it luck. Call it karma. I believe that everything happens for a reason." - played over music that, again is reminiscent of Elmer Bernstein's score.

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We cut back to the farmhouse late at night, in a scene that looks like it was pulled from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Trevor walks across to the dilapidated barn, where he finds something large hidden under a tarp. If you remember the teaser from back in January, you know what's under there.

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More rumblings in town scare the schoolchildren, who are snacking on Doritos, which had gone missing in the Ghostbusters universe a few months ago. A worker in a hardware store, seemingly played by Tracy Letts, grabs a shovel to protect himself. At some other time, that greyish-green entity is racing through a field of schoolbuses, causing their windows to blow out. Phoebe takes shelter inside one of them and covers her ears.

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At some other point, Phoebe is looking down into some kind of glowing amber abyss.

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Mr. Grooberson is trying to start his car when a clawed-foot steps onto the hood. Due to the guttural growling we hear, I can only surmise that it is either a velociraptor or a terror dog. Maybe it's something else entirely.

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After finding the tarp in the barn, the next day (presumably), Trevor removes it to find an old, rusted 1959 Cadillac ambulance/hearse with an "Ecto-1" license plate. He starts it up and opens the barn doors - which, coincidentally roll upwards - giving us a recreation of an iconic shot from the original movie.

[UPDATE - 12/12/2019]
Some of you may be wondering why it looks like the vehicle from the first movie and not the "1A" with the LED signboard from the second. Originally, I theorized that this is the 1984 vehicle and that they moved it to Egon's barn after they first went out of business, then got another '59 Caddy after their revival in 1989. Alex Newborn reminded me that Ray and Winston were driving a dilapidated "Ecto-1" at the beginning of Ghostbusters II, which doesn't track with my original theory. I guess I blocked that out of my mind :-) As such, we are left with two possibilities:

1. Either Ghostbusters II (and subsequently Ghostbusters: The Video Game) is no longer considered canon; or like when Biff went back to 1985 with "Grey's Sports Almanac", Afterlife takes place in an alternate timeline that branches off from 1984. For what it's worth, de-canonizing Ghostbusters II isn't such a bad thing. That movie has a lot of crap that conflicts with the original. The biggest things being the two-fingered logo, the Louis and Janine relationship, Janine's personality change, and Louis pretending that he's a ghostbuster. That's not to say that there isn't some good stuff in the movie. I think Vigo is a pretty bad-ass villain...for a guy that spends the majority of the film stuck in a painting, that is. Janosz is weirdly charming, and I prefer the more colorful decked-out Ectomobile (aside from the license plate change) to the more "basic" one in the original film.

I've always felt that there's a great way to keep the good and eliminate the bad: Have Ghostbusters 3 open with the ending of the second film, which is then revealed to be a dream of Ray's. He comes down and says to the guys, "You won't believe the dream I just had." Peter remarks, "Ray, we don't want to hear about another one of your wet dreams." Ray continues, "No, it's not like that. I dreamt about the Vigo the Carpathian case we had a few months ago, only it was different. Remember Louis Tully, Dana Barrett's creepy stalker? Even though we haven't seen him in five years, I dreamt that he was our accountant and attorney, that he wanted to be a ghostbuster, and most bizarre of all - that he was dating Janine!" Egon then shoots him a dirty look. And with that, Ghost Corps can cherry-pick the good stuff from Ghostbusters II and keep it canon, while eliminating the crap by saying that it was part of Ray's dream.

2. The Three Ectomobiles Theory (trademark pending). If Afterlife intends to keep the entirety of Ghostbusters II as canon, and follow those events, too, then the only way it could have an original 1984 "Ecto-1" is if there were THREE cars.
  1. "Ecto-1" with Orange Plates - This is the car they bought in 1984, as seen in GB1. In 1986, for whatever reason, they decide to move it to Egon's barn and buy a new 1959 Caddy.
  2. "Ecto-1" with White Liberty Plates - In 1986, when New York State started using the white Statue of Liberty plates, they bought this new 1959 Caddy and transferred the plates to it when they got the new ones from the state. Sometime between 1986 and 1989 the Ghostbusters go out of business, and the car falls into a state of disrepair. This is the junker that Ray and Winston drive to birthday parties at the start of GB2. They don't make enough money on the party circuit to get it properly repaired.
  3. "Ecto-1A" with White Liberty Plates - In 1989, after their business is revived, they make enough money to buy yet another 1959 Caddy. Where Ray manages to keep finding this specific model of car, I don't know, but let's assume he has some damn good connections with other like-minded car enthusiasts. They buy a new car since it's, maybe, cheaper than repairing the clunker they've been taking to parties. Since the clunker is still registered with NYS, they register this one as "Ecto-1A", and decide to deck it out more elaborately than the original two cars. (Let's just ignore the video game's "Ecto-1B" car for now.)
Yes, I realize that that's a pretty convoluted theory, but it's the only one I could come up with to solve this little "issue" that Jason Reitman never considered.

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He drives it through the wheatfield, thus giving us our current poster image. I'm not sure how old Trevor is supposed to be, but he seems kinda young to be driving it.

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Apparently, Egon added more features to the Ecto-1, as it now has a "gunner seat" that slides out from the side door. I can't help but think that this addition was inspired by the classic The Real Ghostbusters Ecto-1 toy, which had a gunner seat on the roof.

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The kids take Ecto-1 for a joyride, while Phoebe plays with the Proton Pack in the hunt for that grey-green ghost. And with that, my worse fears for this movie come true: IT'S THE FUCKING JUNIOR GHOSTBUSTERS ALL OVER AGAIN!!! Who the hell thinks it's okay to give kids nuclear weapons?!? Make no mistake about it. An "unlicensed nuclear accelerator" is a nuclear weapon. As Egon said to Bobby Brown in Ghostbusters II, the Proton Pack is NOT a toy. At least the Extreme Ghostbusters were (legally) "adults", around 18 to 20 years old. Phoebe and Trevor have barely hit puberty.

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The kids wreak havoc through the streets of Summerville, destroying a landmark movie theater. Callie won't be winning any Mother of the Year awards, that's for sure. It's not too late to do a rewrite where Child Protective Services takes her kids away from her. Hey, J. Michael Straczynski - please get right on that. Then you can add in your Mack truck scene, too.

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We get a little better look at the grey-green ghost, who is definitely NOT Slimer, but may be his cousin.

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The car screeches to a halt outside a Burgers & Shakes place, that looks sort of like an old-fashioned carhop.

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Cue the title screen, followed by the writing credits for Gil Kenan and Jason Reitman and directing credit for Jason, and a final screen that says "SUMMER 2020" (with the other assorted logos, website url, and hashtag). If you click on the image above, and look really carefully at the full size image, you may notice that there are rivets around the red circle of the logo. You can see it better in the embedded image below, that came from the official Ghostbusters Facebook page. This is a reference to the original Extreme Ghostbusters logo, which managed to make its way onto the firehouse in a few episodes.

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While that was the Domestic Trailer, the International Trailer was also released yesterday. The copy embedded below comes from the Netherlands and is presented entirely in English. The German dub says "Ghostbusters: Legacy" at the end instead of "Afterlife", but is otherwise the same.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife Trailer - International (12/9/2019)

View on YouTube

For the most part, the International trailer has the same footage as the Domestic, only it's shortened down. Where it differs is in some extra footage at the very end, so that's all I'll discuss about it now.

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Phoebe field tests a Proton Pack - again, NOT a toy - while her friend wears some Ecto Goggles.

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But these are not your grandfather's Ecto Goggles. No, these are Polaroid Ecto Goggles!

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Well, Ghostbusters: Afterlife certainly looks like a much different Ghostbusters experience than Fieg's film. That's for sure. For one, it seems to be scarier. Granted, that's not a hard feat to accomplish, but it has the right feel. Now, if only it had the right characters. This whole idea of "Junior Ghostbusters" rubs me the wrong way. Even without looking at the credits, you know that J. Michael Straczynski didn't write this movie. He's gonna hate it! Back in 2016, the Hollywood fad was doing "female reboots" (because Hollywood doesn't think female audiences deserve original ideas). Now, it's making everything look like Stranger Things. It's no coincidence that Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard (what an action hero name!) is in this movie, and the recent IT movies (which ape that Stranger Things feel). Listen, I like Stranger Things and the recent IT movies, but that doesn't mean that I want a Ghostbusters version of them.

I was actually surprised that there was no use of the Ray Parker Jr. song in the trailer. That doesn't bother me as I think the song is completely played out at this point. Yes, I get that it's an iconic part of the franchise, and I don't hate the song, but like Slimer, it's been used to death.

Some fans have already griped about Egon having this unmentioned daughter, but I have no problem with that. It's not like Harold Ramis is a stranger to such things. Assuming the characters are the same ages as the actors who play them, Carrie Coon was born on January 24, 1981. Shit! I'm even older than the new "mom". That makes me feel so old. Anyway, Egon could have had a relationship with a woman and fathered a child in the three years before he founded Ghostbusters, and that woman could have decided that she didn't want Egon in her life or her child's life; perhaps because he was too focused on his science endeavors than on their relationship. She leaves and raises Callie (Carrie's character) on her own, choosing to never mention Egon to Callie. Finn Wolfhard was born on December 23, 2002 and Mckenna Grace was born on June 25, 2006 (which means that she and I share a birthday; only as already established - I'm MUCH older!). So, if the film takes place in 2020, and the characters share the same birthdays as the actors, Callie is 39 years old, Trevor is 17 years old, and Phoebe is 14 years old. That gels. Also, maybe Trevor isn't too young to drive, but I don't think he can handle a car like that. Something newer, with safety features, and not so rare would be a much better car for a teen to drive.

Some fans have also griped about going back to the Shandor mythology, which was also well traversed by Ghostbusters: The Video Game. I don't really have much of a problem with that. Once they get the franchise back on the right footing, I would love to see them do spin-off movies, like Disney has done with Star Wars, to tell the "smaller stories" that explore some of the characters in-depth. I'd love to see a spin-off movie exploring Vigo's backstory. I'm picturing a medieval-type film about a group of "rebels" who band together with a wizard (perhaps?) to take down the evil tyrant Vigo. What we know of his backstory provides a lot of room for exploration: he lived for 105 years; his death was due to being poisoned, stabbed, shot, hung, stretched, disemboweled, drawn and quartered; the people hated him and gave him the nicknames Vigo the Cruel, Vigo the Torturer, Vigo the Despised, and Vigo the Unholy; he used some sort of black magic to put his spirit inside a painting of himself that hung in his "castle of pain"; and that his beheaded head's last words were "Death is but a door, time is but a window. I'll be back!" You can't tell me there isn't an awesome story to be told when expanding on all of that?!?

So far, Afterlife is coming off a bit like fan fiction. I mean, technically it is. Anything not written by the person(s) who wrote the original version of a thing is, technically, fan fiction - even if it is done in an official capacity. It just seems like after 30 years, all of us Ghostheads deserve something a little more "grown up" than this. That said, I'll still watch it on July 10th with an open mind, just as I did the 2016 film.

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BONUS FEATURE - The high-quality download of the Domestic Trailer.

One of the benefits to having access to Sony's press site is that I can download the high-quality version of things, instead of the crappy re-compressed version that gets strewn across the internet. I have uploaded to the Internet Archive the 1920x1080 MOV 2.7GB file of the domestic trailer. (If you enjoy that the Internet Archive allows me to freely upload large video files like this for you to freely download, please donate to them.) On the press site, it is listed in the "HD Masters" section as "PRORES HQ 23.98", with these specs:

• Video: APCH 1920x1080 23.976fps 149156kbps [V: Apple Alias Data Handler [eng] (prores, yuv422p10le, 1920x1080, 149156 kb/s)]
• Audio: PCM 48000Hz mono 1152kbps [A: Apple Alias Data Handler [eng] (pcm_s24le, 48000 Hz, mono, s24, 1152 kb/s)]
(original file name: ghostbusters-afterlife-GhostbustersAfterLife_DTR-1-REV_16x9_ENG_TXTD_Stereo_prores.mov)

There was one file of supposedly better quality, but the only difference is that it's 29.97fps and has a bitrate of 192742kbps, which makes it 1GB larger than the file above. I did not think that made it worth wasting an extra 1GB of space for.

4 comments

Comment from: zidders [Visitor]

"I'm picturing a medieval-type film about a group of "rebels" who band together with a wizard (perhaps?) to take down the evil tyrant Vigo."

You can't criticize it for sounding like fan-fic then go suggesting they pull it completely out of the present to go all Army of Darkness. I'm also getting tired of it being compared to the kid Ghostbusters episode. I'm fine with it being more Stranger Things than GB1 or GB2.

Dec. 11, 2019 @ 03:21
Comment from: Alex Newborn [Visitor]

Couple of minor points. You theorize that "after they first went out of business, they moved [Ecto-1] to Egon's barn"... but then what were Ray and Winston driving around to children's birthday parties in 1989? They would have to have 'barned it' sometime after the opening credits of GB2.

Secondly, when Mr. Grooberson is showing the clips of the GBs arriving at Spook Central to the kids, I think that blurred photo at the right, below the one of Ray and Peter, is Ray Parker Jr. in his outfit from the music video.

Which makes me wonder... are they suggesting that, in-universe, RPJ wrote a song and shot a video about the 'Manhattan Crossrip'? Shrug, I guess it explains how Ray and Winston knew of such a song to sing it at birthday parties.

AN

Dec. 11, 2019 @ 07:30
Comment from: [Member]

Zidders - I didn't even realize that I, essentially, described Army of Darkness. I was just thinking of "sword and sorcery" films in general when I came up with that idea. My idea, which is separate from my analysis of the Afterlifer trailer - though I probably didn't make that entirely clear, is along the lines of what Disney did with Solo: A Star Wars Story. It is a film that takes place in the past and is, more or less, a different genre (action adventure serial like Indiana Jones, not Jedi Space Opera) than the other Star Wars films.

Alex - I can't believe I completely forgot about the dilapidated "Ecto-1" from the beginning of GB2. I guess I blocked it from my memory :-) I updated my review to include a new theory that takes this into account. As for the computer photos... The one on top, I'm sure, is Peter in the orange jacket at Lincoln Center. I didn't mention it in my review because I didn't immediately recognize which specific photo it is. I had no clue who was in the bottom photo, but I think you're right about it being Ray Parker Jr. in his outfit from the music video. I like your theory that RPJ's song and music video exist in-universe. I can definitely see Peter making that kind of publicity happen, as long as he gets to be in the music video :-) I never thought about how Ray and Winston knew the song for their birthday parties in 1989, but now I'll be using your theory to accept that.

Also, if you look carefully at my full-size framegrabs, you'll notice that the photos are purposely blurred. I suspect that they did this in the trailer either to keep them as a surprise, or because they couldn't clear (or didn't want to pay for) the likeness rights for the trailer.

-- Paul

Dec. 12, 2019 @ 18:58
Comment from: PEDRO FERREIRA [Visitor]

Looks very low key and uninspiring.

Aug. 10, 2020 @ 09:58

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