Movie Review: ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot is a campy retake on a classic
Aye, yi, yi! Where are all the chill pills and how exactly do we slip them into our nation’s supply of Mountain Dew: Code Red? The shrill, porcine shrieks of indignation that surrounded the announcement of 2016’s “Ghostbuster” reboot were so over the top and weirdly entitled you would think Sony took the original print of the 1984 “Ghostbusters” and digitally replaced Bill Murray with Andrea Dworkin.
Never before has a simple little movie emboldened so many assholes to loudly announce – to a world that couldn’t possibly care less – their intentions to never watch a particular movie but carefully explain, for minutes on end, how a teaser trailer would rip childhood memories out of their head and replace it with fragmented images of Kate McKinnon calling them a cuck for the rest of their man-baby lives.
Yet in spite of the fact that thousands of adult men performed the internet equivalent to throwing themselves on the floor of a Toys R Us, screaming “No, Mommy, No” after their younger sister revealed she wanted a Transformer too, the “Ghostbusters” reboot still made its way to theaters.
And you know what? It’s fine. Probably not a classic and maybe a little disposable, but fine. Which is appropriate because it’s something the reboot shares in common with the original “Ghostbusters” before the fog of nostalgia permanently settled around it.
In the film, Kristen Wiig (who manages the tricky feat of looking good in bangs) plays college professor Erin Gilbert who is forced to confront her embarrassing ghost hunting past when a former friend and colleague, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), republishes a book they co-wrote several years ago about the paranormal without Erin’s consent.
As Erin attempts to convince her old friend to pull the book off the market, she inadvertently finds herself wrapped up in her old habits as she, Abby and Abby’s cartoonish associate Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon) investigate the spooky goings-on at a Victorian mansion (which, according to tour guide Zach Woods had a state of the art “anti-Irish security fence”).
As it turns out, the haunting appears to be a part of a larger plot to open an interdimensional gateway on the streets of New York City. With the assistance of subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), Erin and the rest of the spectral shattering bunch prove, once and for all, they aren’t frightened by any phantoms.
Directed by Paul Feig and written by Katie Dippold – the same duo behind the very funny Melissa McCarthy vehicle “The Heat” – the 2016 “Ghostbusters” is a very loose, improvisatory film that is less interested in telling a coherent story than it is in riffing on the tropes of the original movie or reveling in some mildly absurdest sight gag.
Basically, your enjoyment of the new “Ghostbusters” hinges on your appreciation of former “Saturday Night Live” writer and current “Tonight Show” announcer Steve Higgins flipping off McCarthy in increasingly elaborate ways, Chris Hemsworth’s almost otherworldly inability to perform even the simplest tasks as the Ghostbuster’s receptionist and McCarthy’s increasing rage over the lack of wontons in her soup. This focus on the odd banalities of everyday life is what separates it from its predecessor. Unlike the 1984 version, Feig makes a concerted effort to ensure that everybody has a funny moment including Andy Garcia as the smarmy Mayor of New York City as well as SNL’s Cecily Strong as his brittle assistant.
Due to post production meddling or bad editing, “Ghostbusters” sometimes doesn’t make a lot of sense. At one point the team is told by Garcia they can’t continue to bust ghosts but in the next scene McCarthy inexplicably mentions that he is allowing them to go back on the streets and hunt spirits.
At another point we’re told the team’s proton packs can’t destroy any ghosties but in the climax they’re shown doing just that. In short, “Ghostbusters” is a bit of a mess. But then, that’s the nature of most comedies. If you don’t believe me, feel free to sit through a classic like “Caddyshack” and see what an uneven, misshapen mess that film is at times. But much like “Caddyshack,” the “Ghostbusters” reboot is still a very funny film in spite of its flaws.
Mike Sullivan is a movie reviewer for Weekender. Movie reviews appear weekly in Weekender.
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnonm Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth
Director: Paul Feig
Weekender Rating: WWWV
Length: 117 minutes