The Hollywood Reporter confirmed this weekend that World’s Best Actor and Earth’s Funniest Human, Bill Murray, will pop up in a cameo in director Paul Feig’s new Ghostbusters reboot. This comes as a surprise since Murray’s participation in the ostensible third installment of the series has been doubtful since the sequel bombed in 1989. The biggest surprise, however, is that Murray’s role most likely won’t be his previous ghostbusting persona, Peter Venkman, making Feig’s reboot the first movie to ever actually get worse after Bill Murray was cast in it.
Don’t get me wrong, Murray’s Venkman character is among the pinnacles of ‘80s comedy, and it’s great that the former Columbia parapsychology professor probably won’t be in the new movie. Drudging up old beloved characters after 30 years normally doesn’t end up so hot (see: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). But adding Murray as a random character who isn’t Venkman is just insane. Why tease audiences with a misdirect like that simply so we can recognize we’re looking at Bill Murray in the reboot of the previous incarnation of a movie he used to be in?
We’re all for the reboot, especially when you’ve got a hilarious cast rounded out by Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. But why not let the new story stand on its own, without any direct references to actors from the earlier movies? Can’t reboots be exactly that and completely reconfigure a story without having to rely on recognizable details put there just so the audience feels smug about knowing what they are?
You know what, we’ll give them the Ecto-1, the jumpsuits, the proton packs, and more since, after all, what is a Ghostbusters movie without them? In fact, we’ll even give them the benefit of the doubt and say keep the alleged Dan Aykroyd cameo as well. That dude has been trying to scrape together a third Ghostbusters movie for so long that he’s earned it. But leave Murray out of it.
Murray has said in the past that his inclusion in the reboot is “crazy talk,” and we agree. Putting him in a random role like that is an insult to the previous versions of the series because it signals that the reboot just can’t let go. If that’s the case, then count it as the first time Murray’s participation has actually hurt a movie.