Ghostbusters (2016) (PG-13)
Okay so I should start this with a heretical statement: I'm not a fan of the original. I know that's blasphemy for anyone who's actually seen the 1980s sci-fi comedy classic; but I must confess, I didn't care for it. There's a haphazard review floating somewhere around the ether that I did a few years ago attempting to be pretentious and amazing; but it's really crap so I won't be linking to it here. The sad fact remains: I didn't find it all that and a bag of chips. Maybe it's because I didn't witness it in the 80s and I didn't grow up with it, nor was it one of the heralded classics of my childhood. Whatever reason I can give, the movie is kind of goofy and forced to me and all the hype surrounding it only made me super critical.
So take this lauded sausage-fest of a movie and remake it and tell me that you aren't going to have controversy when all the leading stars are displaced by women. Now, before I really get into it, the "Ghostbusters" remake works logically for two reasons: 1) it is a movie that deserves a remake and 2) it's not a remake! This just rebooting the series using the same name; and the fact that women occupy the leading roles should be the least of anyone's concern.
Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a renowned physicist on the cusp of receiving tenure at Colombia when a ghost from her past resurfaces: a book she wrote a long time ago. The book concerns the paranormal and would ruin her reputation as a scientist because "real scientists don't believe in the paranormal". The book's co-author Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) has put the book on Amazon to provide herself with some extra cash, not realizing that this will jeopardize Erin's career. So they meet again, after a long, long time separated.
Their meeting is forced by the supernatural coming out of the basements in New York City. A sudden huge wave of activity is causing these ghosts to emerge and Erin and Abby find themselves trying to track down the poltergeists with some help from Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). The wise-cracking awkward team find themselves joined by Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) and the rest, they say, is history.
The gender issue is enormous surrounding the movie and incidental within the film. Yes, the women are treated remarkably different than the original cast; but that's the whole point of the movie. Some of the funnier tongue-in-cheek moments references how women are treated online, how women are treated in academia, and how women are treated by the popular media. But don't worry, the film isn't here to preach to you, because that wouldn't be fun.
The movie captures the original zaniness of the first "Ghostbusters" and supersizes it with flashy effects, funny one-liners, and blatant sexism towards Chris Hemsworth's idiot secretary Kevin. It feels like the joke is being beaten into the ground, until you realize that this is one of the first times we've really seen this flipped on its end. The jokes might be easy, but they all land.
The plot of the movie is ridiculously fun and entertaining, though sometimes "Bridesmaids"director Paul Feig feels lost in genre. Thankfully, the movie's script keeps the film rolling quickly so that it feels like a short rollercoaster of thrills.
This is not to say that it's a perfect movie, because it's far from it and "Ghostbusters" purists will probably not appreciate the Wiig/McCarthy banter that does not resemble Murray/Ackroyd at all; but for the premise, for the nonsensical fun that the movie brings, I can't think of it as anything but a success.
Then again, I didn't like the original, so what do I know?
Posted by Micah Jones