All manner of insults were leveled at the studio and director Paul Feig when the cast of the Ghostbusters reboot was announced. The outcry grew even louder with the release of the first trailer which earned the distinction of being the most disliked trailer in the history of YouTube. As I type this there are 939,711 dislikes on the video on Sony’s official YouTube channel and only 267,500 likes, and the comments are ruthless. However, Feig and his co-writer Katie Dippold understood what they were getting themselves into by not only rebooting/revamping/reimagining (or any of the other associated “re-“ words) the popular classic comedy but also casting four women as the new Ghostbusters. Feig and Dippold smartly incorporated pointed digs at the haters, not necessarily embracing the backlash but at least acknowledging it in obvious references at the beginning of the film.
The movie kicks off with a tour guide (Zach Woods) at the Aldridge Mansion pointing out the estate’s face bidet, its anti-Irish security fence, and a door that shall always remain locked lest something evil emerge from the basement. Something otherworldly does in fact show up once the tour group’s left the premises, literally scaring the crap out of the tour guide and prompting a call to Columbia University professor Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig). Years earlier Erin wrote a book about ghosts which she’s since disavowed and has tried to keep hidden because she’s on the verge of receiving tenure at the college. Unfortunately, her former friend and co-writer, Abby (Melissa McCarthy), is selling the book online which is how Erin gets drawn into helping out the Aldridge Mansion staff.
Rather than take on the case herself, Erin pays a visit to Abby who’s still into proving the existence of ghosts along with her new research partner, Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). One thing leads to another, Erin gets slimed, and the new team of Ghostbusters is formed. MTA worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) joins the ghostbusting fun after her own run-in with a particularly creepy ghost in the subway. Patty doesn’t know anything about the science behind trapping ghosts, but she’s well-versed in the history of Manhattan which proves helpful when bizarre things begin happening around town. The final member of the team is Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), a mimbo with a chiseled body and nothing but empty space between his ears. Kevin’s brought on board solely on the basis of his looks as he has absolutely no hirable skills, although he’s undeniably sweet and extremely easy on the eyes.
Feig found the right actresses to fill the Ghostbuster jumpsuits with Kate McKinnon in particular embracing her character’s wackiness and stealing every scene. The technical mumbo gumbo just rolls off McKinnon’s tongue, but it’s the goofy non sequiturs, the wacky dance moves, and her character’s love of her work that will make Holtzmann a fan favorite. McKinnon’s line delivery is perfect, although at times it appears she was on the verge of busting out some of her SNL moves. Leslie Jones also brings her A-game to the film playing the non-academian of the group. Of course Wiig and McCarthy have funny lines, but they’re just as often relegated to playing the straight women to McKinnon’s lunacy. But what ultimately makes Ghostbusters so appealing is that McCarthy, Wiig, Jones, and McKinnon have great chemistry. It’s easy to embrace them as a new ghostbusting team.
The film’s loaded with references to the original movie and without giving away spoilers, fans of the 1984 comedy from director Ivan Reitman will feel all warm and fuzzy when certain characters (both live and CG) appear on screen. Feig made sure to pay tribute to the original movie, acknowledging it while creating his own take on the story of four people who ain’t afraid of no ghosts.
While some attempt to use this film to argue about gender politics, 2016’s Ghostbusters isn’t a flag-carrier for feminism. The film’s talented female cast obviously just wants the audience to have fun and not read more into it. This Ghostbusters doesn’t seem to be in the least bit interested in advancing any particular agenda, despite what those who’ve prejudged it want to believe.
The 2016 Ghostbusters isn’t an assault on anyone’s childhood. The fond memories we carry of the original Ghostbusters are all still intact. If you were one of the chorus who screamed, “Why?!!!” at the news of a female-driven Ghostbusters, director Paul Feig (Spy, Bridesmaids) answers that question by delivering a goofy summer comedy that’s just plain entertaining. Put aside your preconceived ideas about the new Ghostbusters and just give into the silly – and slimy – fun.
P.S. Be sure to stick around for the credits.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor
Running Time: 116 minutes
Release Date: July 15, 2016