Director Paul Feig once said that his original cut for this year’s Ghostbusters was four and a half hours long, which he then cut down to a “slim three and a half hours”. In the end, the movie was 114 minutes, but the extended cut (available on DVD and Blu-ray on October 12, available in digital form now) has added 15 minutes of extra moments. Is it worth it? That depends on how much dancing you like.
All images from Ghostbusters (Sony)
Because there is a lot of dancing in the extra scenes in the extended cut, although there’s also a fair amount of footage that fills some of the film’s plot holes. Not every extra scene is described here, just the ones that help answer some of the questions we had when we saw the theatrical cut.
Why Erin Isn’t With the Team at the Start of the Climax
There’s a weird cut in the theatrical version, going from the four leaving the hotel to Erin alone at her home. This was, for most of us, the biggest plot hole in the film. Where was she and why wasn’t she with the rest of the team?
A cut scene — which really should have been left in — has a man accost the four about how their “pranks” are wasting tax payer dollars. He then tells Erin that he talked to people she grew up with and says they told him she made up a ghost as a kid for attention. He calls her “Ghostgirl” and she punches him in the face.
Which is then the cover of the New York Post with the headline “Nosebuster”. And then Harold Filmore shows up on TV saying that Columbia fired her because they believe in real science and she was “lying for a sad moment of fame”. Defeated, Erin says she’s going to go home for a little bit.
This explains a fairly significant hole in the original movie, and works really well, even if the team is made fun of and ignored to an almost hilarious extent in this cut.
Erin’s Need to Be Believed
The movie hinted at this a little bit, with Dr Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) talking about being called “Ghostgirl” after she told everyone about a ghost she saw as a kid and no one but Abby (Melissa McCarthy) believing her. But the extended cut makes a lot more out of her desperate need for recognition, which goes a long way to explaining why she unleashes the ghost on Martin Heiss (Bill Murray).
Completely cut from the theatrical cut is Erin’s boyfriend, who introduces her to one of his colleagues. Erin is first proud to say she’s going to be published until the woman says she doesn’t believe in it. Erin explains it’s like awards not mattering, and when that woman says awards are very important, Erin turns on a dime to agree. It’s a funny little scene and tells immediately how much being included in the larger scientific community means to her.
Her boyfriend shows up twice more: Once when Erin’s been fired for a video where she says she believes in ghosts, and he completely ignores her as she walks out of Columbia with her box of personal items; the second time right before the team goes to fight the demon ghost at the concert. There, Erin stands up for herself and says they’re doing real work and she has to go. You can actually see why this was cut. First, Erin’s interactions with her boss (Harold Filmore, played by Charles Dance) get this character beat across. Second, her standing up to her boyfriend is completely undone by her freak-out later.
A Lot More From the Villain
The bad guy in Ghostbusters is Rowan North (Neil Casey), who wants to bring ghosts into the world because he was bullied. One of the biggest complaints is that the villain of the film was badly underdeveloped. Many of the deleted scenes do help a little with that.
There’s a scene with him as a janitor in the hotel where he works, where slime is leaking on a guest. The guest calls for his help, and he says that there is some redness on her back from where the “air conditioner leaking” has dripped on her, which turns out to be a ghost face pushing out of her back. He tells her, in a legitimately hilarious deadpan, that, “I assure whoever is responsible for this will be flogged within an inch of his life and left to die on the street like a pig.”
Later, he chides the ghosts in his lair for not laying low until his plan is executed, including, “Who thought it would be funny to put Earl in that old lady’s bag?”
There’s also an extended bit where he has an entire speech about how the ghosts will “pester” the living, including how “children will be pestered limb from limb in front of their parents”. It’s a great over-the-top moment for him and Neil Casey is great at delivering it.
Rowan’s motivation, even with the added scenes, is still pretty thin. But they are funny enough that, if left in, we wouldn’t have minded how underdeveloped he was as much. Although to be fair, there was a cut where he describes to Abby his whole plan and how it works which is so expository that I’m glad it was cut.
Don’t Cross the Streams
One of the most iconic things from the original movie (“Don’t cross the streams!”) is nowhere to be found in the theatrical cut, which is a surprise because they jammed a lot of O.G. Ghostbusters references in there. The extended version has Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) telling the team not to cross the streams during the concert haunting. It comes back again in the climax, where, just like in the original, it’s floated as an extreme solution to save the world.
Unfortunately, it’s not powerful enough to close the portal, leading to the part where they shoot the Ecto-1’s reactor that is the solution.
It’s actually a good cut, for a few reasons. First of all, crossing the streams not working is one more false ending in a movie which already did that when Rowan died. Second of all, this movie’s much stronger when it’s not so directly incorporating bits from the original movie.
So. Much. Dancing.
This movie has so much dancing. In the theatrical cut, Holtzman dances to DeBarge’s “Rhythm of the Night” while lighting her desk on fire and Erin grinds up on Kevin to DMX’s “Party Up”.
In the extended cut, the dance scene (where a possessed Kevin makes the military and police officers dance) that was used in the end credits is put back in the climax. There’s also an interpretive dance by Erin and Abby called “Protect the Barrier” that the two of them performed for a class project as kids, explaining the other realm. (This cut scene explains why the two go from wearing an MIT sweatshirt and a green jacket to black turtlenecks between talking about childhood trauma and the theatre calling about the demon ghost).
AND there’s an extended bit where Patty (Leslie Jones) and Abby discuss what kind of dancer they think Erin’s boyfriend might be, with them demonstrating. Patty thinks he’s very sexy, Abby thinks he’s robot from the waist down.
Until watching this cut, I didn’t realise just how much dancing there was in this movie. And adding more dancing scenes really put it over the top. Less dancing was probably the right call.