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After all the controversy (ridiculous and silly in my estimation), after the build up, after the waves of nostalgia, there really is only one question that needs to be answered about the 2016 edition of Ghostbusters: Is it any good?
Yes, it is. Is is good. It is fun. It is clever. It is entertaining. It is also, however, fleeting, vanishing from memory almost as soon as the engaging closing credits stop rolling.
This last point shouldn’t be too much of a surprise: though I very much enjoy director Paul Feig’s films, they are, for the most part, light and breezy, not trying to make grand statements or chart new thematic ground. They are not looking to change the world – the cinematic one or otherwise. They look to entertain.
Ghostbusters certainly entertains. It provides more than a handful of laughs. It also provides some exciting moments, interesting ghosts and pleasant call backs to the past.
Most importantly, it provides a terrific cast. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy are the co-leads here much in the way Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd shared the screen in the original film. Wiig and McCarthy have great chemistry. They are both very funny and each are given moments to shine in the movie.
Wiig is such an interesting actor. Though fully capable of portraying crazy and quirky characters, I find I respond more to her in roles like she has in Ghostbusters where she is more grounded and playing things straight. Here her Erin Gilbert is a struggling academician, longing for respect and unhappy when her old work – her ghost chasing work – is back in the public eye. Wiig’s reactions to the unfolding and increasingly bizarre plot and to her co-stars are wonderful, but she really gets her best laughs in interaction with Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin – a dumb hulk of a moron that the Ghostbusters hire to be their receptionist. Wiig is the center of the movie. Is she the center of a new franchise? Time will tell.
Melissa McCarthy is, likewise, more restrained in her comedy than we might be used to seeing. This works to her advantage because, sometimes when she plays more broadly, it’s easy to forget how sweet her characters can be. Abby Yates is both sweet and determined. She wants to prove the supernatural exists and it’s this quest that reunites her with Wiig’s Erin. Abby’s determination is what forms the Ghostbusters and it’s her determination that keeps them going.
Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon are very, very funny in the movie. The concern going in that Jones’ character was poorly thought out – a black subway worker in opposition to three white scientists – does not have as much weight as the movie plays out. Jones’ Patty Tolan is as fully realized as any of the characters and, in fact, her knowledge of the subway and of New York is as critical as the skills the other women bring.
And Jones is really amusing, pulling laughs out of some preposterous premises during the movie.
But the real comedic star of the film is Kate McKinnon. Occupying some of the same space that the late, great Harold Ramis did in the original films, McKinnon’s Jillian Holtzman is zany in the best possible way. She steals most of the scenes she’s in, to be sure, but I found myself enjoying not just her over-the-top deliveries, but more her subtle one-liners. Listen for them, they are most amusing.
Fans of movies know that the original cast (save Ramis and Rick Moranis, who long ago retired from acting) have cameos in the movie. For the most part, these are well done and not entirely distracting. Dan Ackroyd is particularly amusing in a brief scene and, surprisingly, Bill Murray is given quite a lot to do. The fact that these stars appear in the movie should quell some of the ridiculous (yes, I know I’ve now used that word twice) reactions to the movie.
The entire ridiculous (3x) and asinine movement against this all-female reboot of the franchise truly boggles my mind and, in light of recent events in the Good Ol’ USA, might point to something very ugly about this country. For my part, I had no issue with the cast and, in fact, my favorite scene of the movie was watching Wiig all Avengers-like kicking some serious ass in a slow motion montage that would have been at home in a DC or Marvel movie. Get over it, haters. Get over it, now.
Is this movie a worthy installment in the franchise that is Ghostbusters? Yes. It’s not as engaging or clever as the original (but sequels and/or reboots that are are quite rare) but it is a much better movie than Ghostbusters II.
Does it have its problems? Yes, it does. The villain of the piece is the weakest link in the movie and there seemed to me to be some major editing issues that play with the conclusion of the film (there is some allusion in dialogue and on screen to part of New York traveling through time, though not much is made of this). It also seemed like once the filmmakers got Chris Hemsworth on board, they didn’t quite know what to do with him (though if their sole intention in his casting was commentary on how attractive women are typically dealt with in movies, bravo!). Hemsworth, for his part, is a good comedic actor, by-the-way.
Ghostbusters is a lot of fun and I hope this cast and crew get a shot at another chapter. That is certainly the plan.
One suggestion, if there is a Ghostbusters II, ditch the Fall Out Boy/Missy Elliot cover of the theme song and give us back the Ray Parker, jr version. Whether he stole it from Huey Lewis’ melody of I Want a New Drug or not, it’s a far better song!
Ghostbusters receives THREE Proton Packs out of a possible FIVE.