Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, and Neil Casey
Directed By: Paul Feig
Written By: Katie Dippold, Paul Feig
Original Year of Release: 2016
Studio: Sony Pictures
The Ghostbusters reboot has finally arrived. My first impression? Fire anyone and everyone who was behind the marketing of this film. Wait, what? Yes, the Ghostbusters film is not as bad as the trailers and TV spots have made it appear. Thankfully, my duty is to our readers and as a critic, my own personal beef with re-making/ re-booting of Ghostbusters has to be put aside. Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters is not a home run. So where does this film fall? “Grab your stick! Heat 'em up! Make 'em hard!” and let’s get into it.
Someone is pulling ghosts from another dimension into ours. Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), a Columbia University professor seeking tenure, is approached by a curator of a New York Museum to investigate their recent haunting. Erin, dumbfounded as to why she was sought out, is shown a copy of a book she wrote years ago with Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) that explains the science of the paranormal. Shocked that her book is being sold on Amazon, she confronts Abby and strikes a deal with her and her assistant, Jillian (Kate McKinnon), that she will introduce Abby to the curator. The catch? Abby has to remove the book from publication. What happens next proves that the existence of ghosts is real and ends Erin’s career at Columbia. A reconciliation happens between Erin and Abby and thus the Ghostbusters are (re)born.
The backstory for Abby and Erin is revealed to Jillian, thus cementing a bond between these three characters. This origin story, for the foundation of the characters and the film, is vastly different from the original 1984 film. The originality of this Ghostbusters is its strongest suit. With that being said, anytime director Paul Feig pays homage to the original, winks to a moment, or finds a way to cameo someone in this film, you break from the reality of the good time you are having. That break often reminds that you are not watching anything truly original, and not 100% sure that it wants to be.
I believe that it starts with the very first nod to Harold Ramis. I will not say where and when, but the audience started applauding upon seeing his face. I liked the homage to the writer, director, and actor, but it broke the mood. The very same thing happened again and again throughout the film. Eventually, anytime these Ghostbusters were off to see the mayor or just be greeted by a taxi driver, I kept waiting for it to be someone from the original film. It’s all about timing, placement, and size of the role. Bill Murray has a sizable role, but warrants applause because he is “Bill Murray”. After the initial applause of seeing him on screen, you accept his role and move on. Ernie Hudson finds that right sweet spot behind cameo and comedic turn of events and nails it. Sadly, the others present (not Rick Moranis, who turned down a cameo) seem shoehorned in. This is odd because there were a few roles they would have been fine in. Yet, it is not just the familiar actors, but the ghosts, as well, to remind you that you are watching a reboot. Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man may now be rendered in superior special effects, but lack the fear that their ’84 counterparts provided.
The story of Ghostbusters, now, is one that many people can rally behind. They are the geeks and dorks that no one wants to believe. So when they capture a ghost on screen (then load it to YouTube), nobody believes it is real. Out to prove that ghosts are real, they set out to catch one. When they do in fact catch a ghost in public, the mayor’s office asks them if they can discredit their capture as a hoax. Turns out that Homeland Security is aware that ghosts are crossing over. Discrediting the Ghostbusters will keep the public from panicking. This leads us to our villain, Rowan (Neil Casey). Casey is odd, goofy, and perfectly creepy as the man who wants to bring the next world crashing down unto our own. Why? The answer is pretty straight forward. He just doesn’t like the world we live in. It is nice to have such a villain again in the movies, one who doesn’t rely on revenge, but just straight up disgust with the world in which he resides.
The chemistry here between the four Ghostbusters is great. Wiig and McCarthy, who usually play the comedic roles, are switched to the straight characters. At times, this makes many of their jokes fall flat. Thankfully, in larger scenes with McKinnon and Leslie Jones supplying goofier characters, the jokes really start to fly. The biggest surprise comes from Chris Hemsworth. Hemsworth, better known to the world as Marvel’s God of Thunder, Thor, plays a typical dumb blonde. His character, Kevin, is the beefcake for the ladies and not a cherry. Wiig’s Erin is gaga for him, which helps provide a different type of humor which was not present in the original Ghostbusters film.
The film builds to its inevitable conclusion with the Ghostbusters having to save New York City. The story that brings us to that moment is solid, but many things are glossed over to get in as many cameos and nods to the original as possible. I was left wondering why the mayor really wanted the Ghostbusters and the existence of ghosts eighty-sixed from headlines. Where did all the money come from for their inventions, renting a new office, and the hiring of Kevin? It sounds strange, but in the original film, we learn what they charge to bust ghosts and that Ray took out three mortgages on his family home. You may also wonder why proton packs in this story evaporate ghosts. If that is true, why do they need a ghost trap, to begin with? Already an extended cut has been announced, so like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, we will get some answers.
As the film ended, much like Star Trek Into Darkness, it repeated the exact same lines and scenarios from the original story it was re-booting, I was given a better sense of hope when one character risked it all for a friend. I realized that if I sifted through all the homages and nods to the original, I actually enjoyed myself with this Ghostbusters far more than I ever thought I was going to. No, Ghostbusters is not a home run. It is a sliding head-first double. I thought I really wanted to see where their adventures would take us next. Unfortunately, the post credit scene, again, wiped away the hope of originality for the film’s sequel.