Ghostbusters (2016) (12a)
Directed by: Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones
Running time: 1hr 56mins
Hooooo, boy… Has there ever been a movie facing as big an uphill struggle as Ghostbusters?
A reboot of one of the world’s most beloved movies (and franchises), Ghostbusters was facing an oncoming storm the second that little nugget was announced. When the cast were all announced as female some knuckle draggers did make an issue out of it – but have received far too much publicity across the board; let us say one last time, the majority of fans weren’t worried about the cast, they were worried about the scrapping of the movies, the animated shows, the books, the games and the comics that came before, all replaced with a new, clean slate. THAT was always the worry.
And I’ll not lie, I was worried about this movie. Ghostbusters (1984) is without a doubt the most important movie ever made for me. I love that movie with a passion and know every beat within it.
I was never worried about McCarthy, Wiig, McKinnon and Jones being Ghostbusters, I was worried about them being the FIRST Ghostbusters in the new movie universe.
And this movie does try to fix that somewhat… anyone familiar with transdimensional rifts or The Flash TV series will know what they’re trying here – hang out until the end of the credits by the way.
But what we must do is focus on the movie we’re given. We must start fresh and see how it holds up.
And it holds up… pretty well, in all honesty.
Director Feig has made a career out of directing ladies, most particularly McCarthy, and he continues to do it here and with Bridesmaids and Spy being his standouts so far – both movies I found very funny – I have to say that Ghostbusters is, for me, his best movie to date. Thankfully.
The principal cast here are, deliberately so, not carbon copies of the characters we already know: McCarthy isn’t the new Venkman, Wiig isn’t the new Stantz, Jones isn’t the new Zeddemore and McKinnon isn’t the new Spengler.
And this is a good thing because while this is a remake/reboot, it does try new things and, for the most part, a lot of it hits home. Certainly more lands than misses and the final product is a flawed but fun adventure.
The biggest issue here – apart from the reboot issue – is the fact that these new Ghostbusters play for laughs whereas the ’84 movie cast was unaware of just how funny it all was, with Murray, Aykroyd, Hudson and Ramis playing it straight while the crackling dialogue delivered the laughs driven from the performances and stuations – “Tell them about the twinkie…” “What about the twinkie?” – whereas here Feig gives us McCarthy flying around (literally in two scenes) trying to get to grips with the new equipment – the jokes are much more obvious, but many hit home and there’s a good few genuine laugh out loud moments.
However, one issue is Feig’s handling of men (easy, now). The standout male role is Kevin, played by Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, the new secretary to the GBs. Don’t get us wrong, he does get some real laughs but his character is an embarrassment of stupidity that goes far, far beyond realistic – he’s honestly the stupidest character we’ve ever met on screen.
It’s a depth that Ivan Reitman would never have dipped to with the original two movies. Also, Andy Garcia’s Mayor is an arrogant idiot and the few other men in here bring little to the table – we know in the original movie Annie Potts didn’t have a lot of time and Sigourney Weaver needed rescuing, but they were strong female characters – just watch Weaver’s sparring with Murray’s alpha male in the the first movie, she is every bit his match… the men here aren’t afforded that sort of breathing space and it would be nice next time out to see the men and women on an even footing.
Here the new Ghostbusters fulfil their roles with aplomb, selling their personalities but I never quite bought their friendship as there’s not an awful lot of chemistry between them, more obvious in some scenes than others, but the performances are solid and the laughs are handled with confidence – in the original movie I believed that Venkman, Stantz and Spengler had a long history together and I never quite got there with this one.
On another note, McKinnon’s Holtzmann is a fun character but sometimes her knack for scenery chewing goes a bit too far and you really hope she reels it in soon, there’s over the top and then there’s McKinnon… but when she is good she utterly shines, in fairness.
Finally, the big bad, Rowan, played by Neil Casey, is suitably creepy and spooky but never really gets fleshed out… it feels like there’s more to the character we never quite see and when his big moment comes for the effect-laden finale, it never feels as threatening as it should. The spectacle is fine – I liked the ghosts here more than I did in the trailers – but the stakes never feel high. Which is disappointing.
However, it does seem like the makers were listening to the criticisms somewhat… the dance number that we heard happens towards the end of the movie is mercifully missing from the final product and appears in the final credits now and the Ecto-1 that had not earned any fan love, well, it has an eventful final act. Oh and never fear, the Ghostbusters theme is done proper justice here – something that had me worried once the Fallout Boy track was released.
Oh, I will warn you though, the stuff that terrified me (as a fan, not a scaredy-pants) in the trailers is still here – Slimer’s girlfriend and Stay Puft being a balloon primarily – and it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth, but I will say this, whoever supplied the material for the trailers, especially the first couple, did the movie a real dis-service.
Go, see this movie and try, try, try to remember it’s just a movie and has no relationship to the Ghostbusters we know and love and if you can accept that – I did and it was a bitter pill to swallow, I assure you – then you’ll have fun with this one and who knows, you might just be interested to see what comes next. I think I know… but I’m saying nothing.
3 out of 5 Nerds