“Ghostbusters” Movie Review
As soon as it was announced that a reboot of the 1984 comedy Ghostbusters was in the works, people lost their minds. Hardcore fans seemed offended by the idea, and acted as though the original film was some perfect cinematic jewel that should never be touched. Many argued that having an all-female cast was nothing but cheap feminist bait that would ruin any promise of humor or wit. And when the trailers came out, it only added fuel to a pretty intense fire. The project seemed doomed to fail, and several people hoped it would. But I’m happy to say that despite the heavy hate and skepticism, this re-imagining of Ghostbusters nowhere close to being as abysmal at people say it should’ve been.
The film is directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) and stars SNL alumni Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon as parapsychologists who form a ghost hunting team after encountering a powerful spirit. Abbey (McCarthy), Erin (Wiig), Jillian (McKinnon), and Patty (Jones) form a small business in New York City and are determined to prove the existence of the paranormal. Though as their investigations get increasingly stranger and more bombastic, they soon uncover a sinister plot to open a portal and unleash hell upon the city.
From day one, I’ve never understood the negative air surrounding this movie. I wasn’t wowed by any of the trailers, nor was I completely confident that the reboot would be anything great. But it seemed to have a kinetic energy, a sense of mindless fun that kept me intrigued. And that’s by far the film’s best quality. It’s a fun ride from beginning to end, following similar beats to the original in terms of plot but providing its own clever humor and spirit. Some of the jokes hit really hard- especially when they concern an incredibly idiotic secretary named Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) – but there are others that miss the mark completely. But it didn’t ruin the movie for me, and I was never bored.
The ghosts are an interesting blend of creepy and cartoony. They’re eerie and alluring, and yet are so visually vibrant that they fit the film’s goofy nature. The four leading ladies have a great comradery and work well off each other. There isn’t much to the characters themselves, however. Erin doesn’t have much of a personality, and McCarthy’s performance as Abby is just a toned-down, traditional Melissa McCarthy performance. Leslie Jones is good in her role as a MTA worker in a subway station, but her you don’t know much about her besides that. I personally enjoyed McKinnon’s cuckoo-for-coco-puffs portrayal of the group’s tech expert. Admittedly, her over-the-top zaniness defines her entire character, but I still thought she was hilarious. Another bright stop is Chris Hemsworth as Kevin. His character was absurdly dim-witted, but he brought such an innocence and likability to him that I couldn’t help but love him.
What ultimately keeps this film from being anything excellent is the story structure. Paul Feig and Katie Dippold (Parks and Recreation, The Heat) wrote the script, and while the story itself isn’t too bad, the execution of it is sloppy. There are scenes here and there that try to provide interesting information about the characters, but they’re very short and these tidbits are never explored again. The film also reminds you repeatedly that it is, in fact, a reboot. A few callbacks to the 1984 feature would’ve been enough, but the film practically beats you over the head with them. Every couple of minutes there’d be homage to the original, whether it be reciting classic lines, following similar plot points, or including celebrity cameos that could’ve been utilized much better. The film goes back and forth from trying to recapture the essence and being its own unique thing, and I wish the filmmakers focused more on the latter.
Ghostbusters 2016 is a fun time at the movies, plain and simple. It’s not trying to surpass the 1984 version in any way, but instead it’s offering a new perspective within the Ghostbusters universe. Now I can totally understand if you walk out not liking the film. The humor can be weak, the story is sloppy, and there are many aspects that could’ve been executed better. But to those who are legitimately upset with this reboot’s existence, I’ll argue that the film doesn’t taint the franchise. To those who like the film but asserts that the people who hate it are misogynists, I’ll argue that while it’s a good movie, you shouldn’t deny it has some major flaws. So going into it, it’s best that you shed your nostalgia goggles and sky-high expectations and see the film for what it is- nothing great or especially unforgettable, but something simple and entertaining.
Cosmic Grade: 3/5 stars