Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth
Running Time: 117 minutes
Release Date: July 15th
32 years ago, Dan Aykroyd received oral sex from a ghost. We shouldn’t forget this moment, especially when Ghostbusters is hailed as some kind of cinema vérité triumph that ought to be studied in the most pretentious of film schools. Don’t get me wrong, the original Ghostbusters is terrific fun and was genuinely groundbreaking in its day, largely due to the freedom afforded to its comedic talents and a premise that nobody expected to find the adoration it ultimately would.
That said, the sheer level of outrage that Ghostbusters 2016 has been met with is entirely unwarranted. ‘Classic’ movies are remade all the time as the Hollywood well continues to run dry but rarely has the acrimony been this vicious, the hatred this uncomfortable. Active campaigns to boycott and sabotage the film are on-going and the new Ghostbusters also holds the unfortunate distinction of sporting the single most disliked trailer in YouTube history. You know why by now but it’s worth acknowledging just how embarrassing and pathetic the outpouring of misogyny has been.
So, the crucial question in the wake of all this controversy and admittedly uninspiring promotional material – is it any good? The answer is yes. Is it perfect? No. Is it overlong? Yep. Is the climax yet another ho-hum ‘CGI menace terrorises a major city’ set piece? Of course. But is it funny and will you laugh and have fun hanging out with this new team? Big yes. In some ways, Ghostbusters is safe as houses, keeping things relatively straightforward while repeatedly nodding in the direction of the 1984 original via cameos and visual motifs. Course correction is tricky enough and Paul Feig – working from a script co-written with Katie Dippold – works well within obvious limitations.
Helping him out massively is his cast. Melissa McCarthy, perhaps hampered by appearing in more child-friendly fare, actually registers as a believable human being for once. Jittery and wild-eyed, Kate McKinnon is the clear breakout, and while a phrase like ‘easily the most GIF-able of the new Ghostbusters’ might make you want to slam your head off the nearest wall, you can understand why the likes of Vulture are running with it. Fellow Saturday Night Live alum Leslie Jones gets to be black and loud (seriously that’s her entire character) but she’s got good presence so it’s fine I guess? Kristin Wiig, meanwhile, is somewhat let down by a script that requires her to act as the straight-woman for the most part but luckily Wiig can make reading the phonebook amusing. Best of all is Chris Hemsworth as their defiantly dumb receptionist who walks away with every scene he saunters into.
Oh yeah, the plot. It hardly matters, does it? Ghosts emerge thanks to an underwritten villain and the four eventual ‘busters team up to save the day, crack some jokes, etc. If I sound like I’m underselling things, it’s because Ghostbusters is simply a fun, feel-good time at the movies and it doesn’t need to be anything more than that. The majority of the jokes land, the cast are perfect, the characters enjoyable company and there’s a strong sense of empowerment that feels genuinely inspiring. Also, it’s much more entertainment than the undercooked Ghostbusters II. Oh, and nobody gets blown by a ghost. Bring on the sequel.