Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones
Synopsis: Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Supernatural action and some crude humor)
Release Date: July 15, 2016
If there's something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?
Not Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis (may he rest in peace), or Ernie Hudson. Shocked? You aren’t alone.
The long criticized and controversial Ghostbusters, a remake to Ivan Reitman’s 1984 comedy classic, has finally flown into cinemas, much to the disdain of diehard fans of the original film. This time around, the Ghostbusters are women---yes, you read that right. The original has completed a 180 turn from a male dominated comedy to a female dominated comedy, with stars Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones replacing the original cast of Ghostbusters. Right off the bat, one cannot blame fanboys of Reitman’s classic of writing off this newcomer, as their beloved and iconic characters are being replaced by female characters.
However, I am and always have been one of those that needs to view a film before judging it, much like the famed saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.” As a fan myself of the original, I went into the new Ghostbusters with pretty low expectations, and came out being a little surprised that I set the bar so low.
The film tells another origin story of how the Ghostbusters formed as a group, with Kristin Wiig playing Dr. Erin Gilbert, a Physics professor at Columbia University that, despite co-authoring an unsuccessful book several years earlier about the existence of ghosts with Dr. Abby Yates (McCarthy), has since retracted her views of ghosts and the supernatural. However, Gilbert is soon pulled back in with fellow colleague Yates when Yates republishes the book on Amazon, threatening Gilbert’s bid for tenure at the college. Yates, in her continued studies and experiments of the supernatural, works with an eccentric engineer Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). The three of them soon cross paths with subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), and, after witnessing ghosts firsthand, set out to become the Ghostbusters.
Director Paul Feig is known for working with stars Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy before-- both of them in the acclaimed Bridesmaids (2011) and McCarthy in The Heat (2013) and the recent comedy crime thriller Spy (2015). He knows full well how to utilize their talents, particularly McCarthy, who even earned a surprising Oscar nomination for her work in Bridesmaids. Though Wiig and McCarthy each deliver solid performances, it’s ultimately Kate McKinnon who steals the laughs as the quirky, inappropriate engineer. Her performance is so likeable, funny, and appealing that you’ll find yourself looking for her even when she’s not on screen. It wouldn’t be a far reach to even say McKinnon overshadows Wiig and McCarthy with her on-screen antics.
The film’s other laughs come primarily from Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin Beckman, who, in a clear gender reversal stunt, portrays a feeble minded and atrociously bad secretary for the Ghostbusters. Hemsworth, universally known for his role as Thor in Marvel’s Thor (2010) and The Avengers (2012), has developed a knack for using his attractive physique for comedic purposes. A prime example is his role as Audrey’s husband “Stone” in the latest Vacation (2015) film, where he portrays a womanizer that threatens Rusty’s (Ed Helms) masculinity.
Ultimately, the new Ghostbusters succeeds in delivering a film that focuses more on the relationships of its characters than the original film. This is particularly evidenced by the film's subtle exploration of Wiig and McCarthy’s characters, who are childhood friends and thus have a special bond between them. This bond is efficiently employed right up to the film’s climax, and serves to unite the two characters.
Ghostbusters also succeeds in delivering a film that separates itself from the trope of its main female characters needing to fall in love or have romantic affiliations with a male character. Instead, their focus is grouping together as a team to defeat the ghosts that threaten New York. The only real romantic thoughts they conceive with male characters is that of Chris Hemsworth's character, which (as mentioned earlier) is played out more for laughs than any serious romantic affiliation.
The film also utilizes top-grade special effects, and contains extended action scenes---some that definitely run too long, but are entertaining in context nonetheless. The film also fuels nostalgia from the original by not only incorporating the famous Ghostbusters theme, but also cameos from the original film’s cast. Though the cameos are not uproariously funny or particularly memorable, it’s still an undeniable joy to see the original team back (though in their separate ways) in the franchise after decades of absence.
Though certainly not as memorable or funny as the original, Ghostbusters still provides enough laughs along with a unique origin story to justify its existence in the beloved franchise.