Ghostbusters Movie Review
What. In. God’s. Name. Is. The. World. Coming. To? First we get unnecessary remakes, and now we’re getting remakes where male characters are being replaced by women? Abomination! The characters we all know and love, Venkman, Ray, Egon and Winston… replaced by Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon? Abomination! This new Ghostbusters must be a travesty! A crime! A scourge against humanity! A symbol of man’s demise! A submission to political correctness, to the whims of women and everything that is unholy! Vote Donald Trump!
Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters, this 2016 incarnation where women rule and a man (Chris Hemsworth) plays the secretary, has been subjected to more hate and wrath than perhaps any movie before—by people who haven’t even seen the fucking movie.
Well, see the goddamn movie first. It’s not the end of the world as we know it.
I’ll admit, I was a little put off when it was announced that Feig was making a movie that did away with the original characters and included a whole new batch—all women. I hope to think that my concern was due to a belief that what made the original Ghosbusters fun (and yes, I enjoy Ghostbusters II as well) was not the ghosts or the paranormal stories, but the chemistry of the cast and characters. Maybe there was some sexism mixed in there, but I don’t think so.
Of course, with Harold Ramis (Egon) now a ghost himself, plans for a second sequel starring Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson scrapped after literally decades of almost-starts, and a Hollywood climate where studios are looking for fresh beginnings with young casts to build long-lasting franchises, it was inevitable that any Ghostbusters movie we would get would have a new central cast. Maybe the same characters, but a different cast.
And how well do you think that would have gone?
In hindsight, Feig’s move was a smart one. With a brand new set of characters and a change in gender, he largely distances himself from comparisons to the original crew (who wants to be compared negatively to Bill Murray?). And McCarthy, Wiig, Jones and McKinnon make a great team. They’re funny, they have good chemistry and they stand alone from the characters that came before them.
The movie itself, despite a different plot, is not immune to comparisons, however. This new Ghostbusters is funnier—the original, while funny at times, shoots for overall entertainment value more than laugh-out-loud jokes—but it’s not as consistent. Its story isn’t as memorable, and aside from some new ghost-fighting weapons, it doesn’t try very hard to raise the bar.
Feig is the director of Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy (all funny, female-led comedies), and while decent, Ghostbusters is his least-good movie to date. The screenplay, co-written by Katie Dippold (The Heat), is generally funny and plays to the cast’s strengths, arguably to a fault. The movie is entertaining, but it’s also inconsistent at times. Some of the jokes hit hard, others fall flat, much more often than in Feig’s other, better movies.
The cast is great together, but there are few standouts. Kate McKinnon has some of the funniest bits, but she also swings and misses the hardest. McCarthy is funny at times, but we’ve seen her play the same character so many times now you sort of just have to shrug. Wiig is the same—she spends the movie just being Kristen Wiig. Leslie Jones is the most consistent of the bunch, and someone who deserves more screen time in the inevitable sequel.
And call me sexist, but Chris Hemsworth is the funniest of them all.
The new Ghosbusters is moderately funny and moderately entertaining, but it needed more green ooze to really gel. It’s a decent comedy—worth seeing—but does it improve upon or even come close to matching the original? I don’t think so.
It must be that all-female cast.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.