Ghostbusters (Paul Feig, 2016)
If there’s something strange, in your neighbourhood, it’s probably a pathetic loser living in his parents’ basement trolling the female Ghostbusters. And how disappointed he will be to hear that it’s actually not the failure he’d been so desperately anticipating. Time to go back to your porn, buddy.
A reboot rather than a sequel, 2016’s Ghostbusters sees Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) about to get tenure at Columbia University. Keen to retain her credibility as a scientist, she is dismayed when evidence of her co-authorship of a book about the existence of ghosts is brought to light. She is reluctantly roped into a paranormal investigation with old friend and co-author Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), but before long she’s raring to go as a buster of ghosts. Joining them are nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and subway worker, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones). Together they kick some arse, without letting their ovaries get in the way.
Directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) with a script co-written with Katie Dippold (The Heat), the new Ghostbusters does not seek to reinvent the wheel. Aside from the obvious gender swap (you mean… females can actually do stuff?!) it is very similar to the original franchise in tone, narrative, and action. The original main cast and creatives are all involved in some way or another, with the obvious exception of the late Harold Ramis, to whom the film is dedicated. The ghosts are updated with some decent CGI, and seeing it in 3D is worthwhile for some additional (comedic) scares.
The new team are some of comedy’s finest, with Melissa McCarthy joining SNL trio Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. We’ve previously witnessed these women do some outrageous, exaggerated work, but here they don’t overplay it. In fact, at times the dialogue slightly lost its punch due to its delivery being a little too casual. But while the jokes do fall flat at times, there are enough laugh-out-loud moments to satisfy, courtesy of all cast members. It’s also satisfying to see a diverse bunch of female characters, in terms of size, sexuality and race, although Jones’ character comes off a tad one-dimensional at times. Feig has hinted at the sexuality of McKinnon’s character, but stated that he’s being coy because “when you’re dealing with the studios and that kind of thing…” Ugh. It seems we have only progressed so much.
Chris Hemsworth entertains as the pretty but stupid male receptionist, Kevin. He produces many laughs, but the character is almost cringeworthy in his stupidity. Then again, females are cast in these sorts of blonde bimbo roles all the time. It’s clearly a deliberate move, and anyone suggesting that Kevin’s level of intelligence makes this a ‘man-hating’ film needs to go back and watch pretty much any other Hollywood movie that’s ever been made.
In one particularly delightful moment, Melissa and co even manage to get in a jab at the film’s trolls. The villain of the piece also seems like he would be right at home in a basement on a computer hating the world. Unfortunately, the ugly side of fandom has overshadowed the actual merits of this film, with anyone liking it being labelled a shill and anyone hating it being labelled a misogynist. You don’t have to like it, but if your problem is that it features women, you sir, are a dick. It’s no better or worse than the original, although the new theme song is a significant downgrade.Ghostbusters in 2016 remains a fun, if not absolutely amazing, ticket to the movies. So who you gonna call?
This review was first published at Film Blerg.