PLOT: Three scientists (Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig & Kate McKinnon) go into the ghost hunting business. They’re soon joined by a street-wise transit worker (Leslie Jones) and together, they discover an apocalyptic plan that could turn their beloved New York City into a playground for ghosts.
PLOT: Outside of maybe BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, there haven’t been many 2016 movies as instantly controversial with a certain slice of hardcore fandom than this GHOSTBUSTERS reboot from BRIDESMAIDS’s Paul Feig. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon star as our new proton-pack wearing heroines, and fitting Feig’s impressive body of work, this is no carbon copy remake. In an attempt to forge their own path, only the basics of the 1984 original have been re-purposed, including the logo, some of the equipment and car, Slimer and (briefly) the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and, of course, the iconic Ray Parker Jr theme song.
In a nod to the original’s enduring legacy, all four leading ladies play wholly original characters that aren’t patterned too closely on the ones played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and the late, great Harold Ramis, except in only the most basic ways. Specifically, there’s no cool-guy smart-ass a la Peter Venkman, probably a smart move considering the original is as vital and popular as ever.
The fact is - the original GHOSTBUSTERS is a classic and no movie, no matter how good, will ever change that. It’s not going anywhere and given how many horrible reboots we’ve gotten lately (TOTAL RECALL, ROBOCOP, etc), there’s really no reason for a certain, very vocal minority of fans to be so outspoken about their hatred of this new film - which they either haven’t seen or point-blank refuse to even give a chance. Is it misogyny? The angry commentators would say no, but who’s to say. That’s certainly the case for at least some of them.
That’s too bad for them though, because as far as reboots/remakes go, Paul Feig’s film is one of the better ones. It helps that him and his collaborators obviously have a huge amount of respect and affection for the original, with director Ivan Reitman being on-board as a producer, and all the surviving Ghostbusters contributing cameos, with Murray’s even seemingly being a riff on William Atherton’s baddie in the original, a nice idea. Annie Potts and one more, iconic, performer from the original also get in on the fun, with the way paved for at least a few of them to return in any sequels.
All four of the new Ghostbusters are terrific. Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig are more-or-less the straight-women here - something which may initially surprise viewers. Playing estranged childhood friends, their affectionate relationship keeps the movie grounded whenever it comes close to veering too far into zaniness. The live wires here are Leslie Jones, who comes off far better in the finished film than she does in the promos, and Kate McKinnon, in what feels like a star-making performance as the team’s most tech-savvy member.
Technically, this is also one of the better films of the summer season. Big and bright, the 3D works surprisingly well, the CG effects are creative, and running just a hair under two hours, Feig keeps the film moving at a quick pace. Toned-down from his usual R-Rating, this family friendly GHOSTBUSTERS is initially a little light on the laughs, but the cast quickly finds its groove. One of the highlights winds up being Chris Hemsworth as the team’s thickheaded but handsome secretary, who’s openly ogled by Wiig’s character, a sly commentary on the usual, window-dressing style parts actresses often find themselves shoehorned into. Andy Garcia and Cecily Strong also hit some funny notes as the political baddies - with Garcia’s outrage at being compared to the mayor from JAWS one of the biggest (of many) laughs I had watching this.
If the movie has any major failings at all, it’s that the Missy Elliot/ Fall Out Boy cover of Ray Parker Jr’s classic title track is admittedly weak, although the movie has a whole bunch of covers that are much better while the original version also kicks in here and there. The main villain, a nerdy janitor played by Neil Casey, also lacks the kind of outlandish presence the movie needed, but really those are minor things. Against all odds, GHOSTBUSTERS actually winds up being one of the better all-around big summer blockbusters, and a refreshing, fun movie that even the most hardcore haters may warm to if they give it half a chance.
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