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A new team of paranormal investigators is trying to save New York from spectral possession in the new Ghostbusters starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth. Does this reboot honor the classic franchise or is Harold Ramis rolling in his grave?
In 1984, Ghostbusters starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis hit theaters and instantly became one of the greatest comedies of all time. Everything about the movie from the Proton Packs, the uniforms, and Ectomobile became iconic. The weapons are as recognizable as lightsabers from Star Wars and the car is as cool as the Batmobile. As a kid, I wore out my copy of the movie on Betamax and also had some of the toys to play with. I even taped a vacuum cleaner hose to a backpack and ran around the house pretending I was trying to capture spooks and specters. To me and a lot other kids of the ’80s, Ghostbusters represents a part of childhood that molded and shaped us as adults.
That was 32 years ago and Sony Pictures is trying to recreate the magic for a new generation. Unfortunately a lot of those kids who fell in love with the original have all grown up to be cynical adults that immediately hit the internet to angrily proclaim their disdain at even an idea of a remake, especially one featuring all woman. This coming from the same people who bashed a sequel made by the same people starring the same cast. Listen I get it. I don’t know how I’d feel if Goonies was remade because it’s the number one movie ever that’s most near and dear to my heart, but chances are that one day it will happen. Let’s face facts though, Hollywood is always going to remake, reboot, rehash, and recycle old material because it makes them money. The Ghostbusters property has been dormant for twenty-seven years. James Bond constantly gets recast. Superheroes like Batman and Spider-Man repeatedly are getting new movies because the movie studios pay tons of money in order to make the movies. It actually doesn’t even make sense for Sony to not reboot the franchise. It’s like a person owning a store filled with products that people are desperate to purchase, but never opens the door. That’s not a sound business practice. You want to complain about the lack of originality? Then buy more tickets to new ideas instead of remakes and sequels. With that being said, this is a review of this movie, not a step-by-step break down of how the two movies compare.
This new movie stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones as the new Ghostbusters. McCarthy and Wiig play Abby Yates and Erin Gilbert, childhood friends who grew up fascinated by ghosts, but unfortunately grew apart as adults. When a haunting at a local landmark home brings them together again, they start to investigate paranormal events popping up all over the city. With the help of Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon), an engineer who has a talent for creating spectacular nuclear-based weapons, and Patty Tolan (Jones), an ex-transit worker that’s a walking encyclopedia of New York history, they soon discover that someone is purposely trying to open a portal to the underworld to unleash the The Fourth Cataclysm. It’s up to them to answer the call and save the city.
The movie starts off really similar to the original which was expected, but even Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man movies all start the same way too. What I liked was that once the basic premise was laid out, it becomes its own thing. There are a lot of homages to the original, but it’s nothing different to exactly Jurassic World and The Force Awakens did. Maybe it’s fan service. Maybe it’s pandering. But many times I could hear my audience positively react to the many Easter Eggs and cameos littered throughout the film. To me, the movie felt like a love letter to the original.
One of the biggest positives of the movie is the cast. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones all work really well together and have great on-screen chemistry. I also liked that they weren’t just trying to do impersonations of the original cast. They were their own women with their own unique talents and personalities. I liked McCarthy because she didn’t play her typical obnoxious asshole archetype that we’ve all seen her perform countless times. She was a bit more tone-downed which I really appreciated. Wiig was great with her dry and soft-toned comedic delivery. She was almost like the straight man of the team. Leslie Jones was the over the top character. She was super funny and animated. My favorite of the quartet is McKinnon. I love her on Saturday Night Live. Her Justin Bieber impression is one of my favorites. Her character was very eclectic and bad ass. She was like a lesbian version of Danny McBride minus the vulgarity. And yes I did say lesbian. To me this was another very powerful statement the movie was making. Being a Ghostbuster isn’t just restricted to gender or race. Yes indeed gay people can be Ghostbusters as well.
All the women had their funny moments, but who really steals the show from a comedy standpoint is Chris Hemsworth as Kevin the receptionist. The best way to describe him is that he’s the male epitome of every single “dumb blonde” joke you’ve ever heard. Even though he’s best known as Thor in the Marvel movies, roles like this really show his dynamic comedic range. I guarantee that even if you don’t like the movie, you’ll love Kevin.
The other positives of the movie were the weapons, gadgets, and CGI. I loved the weapons. They reminded me a lot of the cool weapons from Ghostbusters: The Video Game. Melissa McCarthy had a proton gauntlet that was punch-motion activated. McKinnon had gunslinger dual proton pistols. The ladies were also armed with grenades that could vaporize spirits. My favorite weapon was the Ghost Chipper. It would suck ghosts in the front and spit them out the back like a shredded tree coming out of a wood chipper. I also thought the new proton packs were cool. I really liked the little details of how the streams not only sparked, but it looked like plasma from the weapons had molten metal dripping from them.
The CGI was great. I liked the look of the ghosts. They were creepy and imaginative. They also provided a few moments of genuine jump scares that I don’t see in regular horror movies. In 3D, they looked great as they appeared to really float off screen and fly towards you.
The movie isn’t perfect, but I found it quite entertaining and genuinely funny. Many times throughout the film, my audiences clapped, cheered and applauded. Unfortunately some of the jokes fell really flat or felt forced. And while I did love all the cameos, one didn’t feel natural to both the actor and his previous roles. But overall the movie not only is really entertaining, but it doesn’t even deserve the astronomical levels of hate that it received prior to it even hitting theaters. As for kids, I didn’t have any problems with the movie. There are some adult jokes in the movie, but they are way above any child’s head. If you had no problem with your kids watching Dan Aykroyd get a blow job from an invisible woman, than nothing in this movie should be offensive to younger audiences.
I’m not going to lie, this movie doesn’t hold a candle to the original. The original Ghostbusters was lightning in a bottle that even the original creative team couldn’t replicate, But the bottom line is that this movie accomplishes what I feel it set out to do and that’s bring a beloved franchise back into the pop culture consciousness as well as give this generation of little girls some heroes and role models to look up to. As a father of 3 girls, I can’t tell you enough how awesome it is that movies like this and others like The Force Awakens provide my daughters a positive influence like I had in my childhood. There is power to representation in media. This movie wasn’t made to destroy childhoods. It wasn’t made to take anything away from the original. And if you are already going to be disappointed that this movie isn’t like the original, then just stay home because there is nothing to ever convince you to like this movie. This movie wasn’t made for you. For everyone else, this is so far one of the better movies of the summer blockbuster season.
This may come as a shock to some of the haters on the internet, but the new Ghostbusters is actually pretty funny. The movie felt like a sincere love letter to the franchise from self-professed superfan, director Paul Feig. I found myself laughing quite a bit and the crowd reaction throughout the entire film was extremely positive. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones do a great job being their own characters instead of trying to do poor imitations of the original cast. The ladies were all funny in their own rights, but I do have to say that Chris Hemsworth steals the show as Kevin the receptionist. The story isn’t that super strong and some of the joke either fall flat or are way over the top, but the over all product was quite entertaining.