Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth
“Awful”. "Terrible". "Disappointed". These were the overwhelming sentiments from social media and entertainment sites concerning the trailer for the rebooted “Ghostbusters” film well before it was set to arrive in theaters. Things got worse as some criticized the film’s decision to utilize an all-female cast of lead characters. Cue the release of a poorly updated rendition of the Ray Parker Jr. theme song for this film, by none other than Fall Out Boy and Missy Elliot, and everything looked bleak for the reboot of the beloved 80’s film. Paul Feig’s “Ghostbusters” is far from terrible, in fact there are some really good moments supported by the cast of truly comedic women and some ingenious fan service offered throughout the film, but unfortunately it’s also far from impressive.
It’s not the same as the 1984 film but that doesn’t keep it from trying to be. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is on the cusp of getting tenure at the college that she teaches at, however an early career as a paranormal scientist disrupts this. Erin is forced to visit an old friend and colleague, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), after a book the two them authored surfaces under strange circumstances. The investigation of an apparition leads to the formation of a team, adding Abby’s assistant Jillian (Kate McKinnon) and a subway worker named Patty (Leslie Jones), which is quickly dubbed the Ghostbusters.
Much of the success of the first film rested in the capable casting and subsequent chemistry of the leading stars of the film, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson. Mr. Feig has done an exceptional job of organizing some of the most talented, funniest women working in film today into this project. Unfortunately these exceptional women are not always utilized in the best ways, particularly in ways that make them endearing throughout the film. Melissa McCarthy has a few funny moments but is very much restrained here, Kristen Wiig is impeccably awkward in the best way possible, Leslie Jones has a majority of the best punchlines, and Kate McKinnon gives a performance that you will either love or completely hate. Chris Hemsworth is also involved, playing a dimwitted hunk of a secretary who garners some great laughs. Individually these characters would not work but strangely enough, amidst some flaws, they become the driving force that keeps everything flowing in the right direction. Regardless of how poorly composed they may be, they are consistently amusing to watch on screen.
A majority of this film is dedicated to fan service, providing enough winks and nods to the original film that all the nostalgia can come back in a positive way. While some of the subtle moments of reflection work extremely well it also feels forced at times, especially when it comes to the more obvious callbacks. Still, there are some great surprises that will undoubtedly please those fond of the original.
The narrative is a quick mix of highlight, exposition, and tech talk. Do we really know how all this technology works? No. Do we need too? Absolutely not. That doesn't keep the film from rambling along with a rhythm of science words, a nice touch dedicated to the original film.
What hurts the narrative is inconsistency; the plot never seems to extend beyond the simple aspects of ghosts and ghostbusters, we are given one scene that provides very little background into the nature of these characters passion for the unknown, and the antagonist mumbles something about an evil vortex but never achieves any real purpose besides wanting to destroy humanity.
These are all criticisms about a film that seems more interested in pleasing the various expectations of the viewer, to the point that as long as the film is meeting the big complaints found on the Internet everything will be okay. Is it still entertaining? Yes. Will it stand the test of time and become as beloved as the original? Not likely. So enjoy the reboot for what it is, an entertaining escape that provides quite a few laughs and will entice you to rewatch the original film that made you love the 80’s horror comedy.
3.00 out of 5.00