'Ghostbusters' Review: Gender Has Nothing To Do With It

 Ghostbusters 2016 KristinWiig MelisaMcCarthy

Frankly it’s disconcerting reading GHOSTBUSTERS reviews especially from women writers who can’t get away from basing their thoughts on the women as a whole rather than their merits as actors and the film’s worthiness. For this review, GHOSTBUSTERS is just another summer tentpole that will be judged like any other movie.

Rebooting originals especially a beloved classic like 1984’s GHOSTBUSTERS is a tall order.  Even if the original cast returned as most online trolls demanded, there is no guarantee it would work. Just to take a look at the disastrous GHOSTBUSTERS II which was extremely disappointing. The sequel was sloppy, the writing was frankly lazy and unoriginal. The magic was lost.

Fast forward to 2016 with Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones inheriting the proton packs under the direction of Paul Feig who’s given us gems like BRIDESMAIDS, SPY and THE HEAT. That formula seemed like a win-win situation, but unfortunately GHOSTBUSTERS is not on par with Feig’s previous work. Going in you’re expecting a hilarious good time, but the film only delivered some minor laughs with no stand out performances. That has to do more with casting choices and writing rather than it being an all-woman team.

The actors are not given the best material to work with here with a script by Katie Dippold (THE HEAT, “Parks and Recreation:). That’s not to say it’s not good - it just not what you expect given the track record of the filmmaking team and stars behind GHOSTBUSTERS. McCarthy and Wiig were brilliant together in BRIDESMAIDS, but that’s missing here.  SPY and BRIDESMAIDS are on my favorite comedies list, and frankly I expected the same in the modern day GHOSTBUSTERS.

The GHOSTBUSTER team, unfortunately didn’t compliment each other and their characters were underdeveloped. Leslie Jones would’ve been better utilized as the mad scientist instead of the loud-mouthed GHOSTBUSTER. McCarthy’s Abby and Wiig’s Erin were too similar in personality. McCarthy seems to be stuck on replay with similar performances from film to film as a sharp tongued character which was endearing at first but it's time to change it up.  Kate McKinnon will most likely be everyone’s favorite character as the mad scientist of sorts, and in the second half of the film - she steals the show. At the onset of the movie, McKinnon is not given much dialogue so she spends most of the time making odd faces which works well during her “Saturday Night Live” skits, but here it was just weird. When she starts kicking ghostbuster butt, that’s when she comes alive. Think of her as Q from the James Bond films with her cool gadgets and inventions.

Ghostbusters Chris Hemsworth feature

Chris Hemsworth was a nice eye candy addition to the cast, but his dumb act soon wears thin. His comedic skills were put to better use in another reboot last year with VACATION opposite Ed Helms and Christina Applegate. However, his dancing skills during the credits more than makes up for it.

The antagonist in GHOSTBUSTERS is one of the weakest links in the movie. You don’t really care about his motives for unleashing the dead, and frankly he’s just boring as a character with no real personality or “hate-ability” quality unlike “Pencil Neck” from the original, played by 80s resident movie douche William Atherton (DIE HARD). I’m not comparing but there should always be a character you love to hate.  

The upgrades to the Ghostbusting-fighting tools are actually the best part of the movie especially when the gadgets are put into action against the onslaught of ghosts. The ghost-fighting sequence was the highlight with the Ghostbusters jumping into action as the dead come to life in New York City. That's when the movie really comes to life when the actors kick it up into high gear along with great special effects that made the sequences really pop.

What is commendable is that writer Katie Dippold and Paul Feig didn’t tread familiar ground by playing it safe with gags that made the first one work. They completely made it their own, and the actors didn’t attempt to take on characteristics of any of their predecessors.

What was missing is the horror element and music. The original balanced comedy with some horror aspect that made you go “oh shit!,” but in this version of the GHOSTBUSTERS it’s all comedy and no dread. You never really fear that the world is coming to an end so there’s no urgency to the action. The music was a big part of the original, and we’re not talking Ray Parker’s cheesy but classic Ghostbusters theme song. The horror aspect came through in the soundtrack, but that's lacking in this reboot.   

No one (male or female) is ever going to catch the magic of the original with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver, and the cameos by some of returning veterans in the reboot were a bit disappointing except for maybe Sigourney Weaver.  

Bottom line - it wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny as I expected, but it has its merits. As long as you don’t compare it to the original - GHOSTBUSTERS 2016 is a good movie but not great. I wouldn’t mind seeing the team in another round with a sequel that could surpass the first one. Speaking of that, stick around for the end credits when an Easter Egg hints at the next possible antagonist.

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