July 14, 2016
Ghostbusters (** ½) PG-13
Before I get into my review of the reboot of Ghostbusters, I think it’s important to address the controversy that has surrounded the film. Said controversy being the choice by director/co-writer Paul Feig to populate the lead roles in the film with females, a decision which raised the ire of many fans of the original 1984 film. Basically, it boils down to this; some films are ‘untouchable’ and should not be remade—Goodfellas is a prime example. The original Ghostbusters was not a film that should ever be deemed ‘untouchable.’ It was a pleasant action comedy with supernatural overtones but nothing in the realm of life changing cinema. If Ghostbusters must be remade—and I’m not sure that it really needed to be—then livening things up by changing the gender of the leads is not the worst approach to take with this property. It imbues the film with a sense of freshness that likely would not have been there had Feig and company decided to go with a cast of the male comedic happenings of the moment. On the casting level this Ghostbusters definitely works and works well.
Taken on its own merits, this re-imagining of Ghostbusters for a whole new generation is a lot of fun during its first hour. Unfortunately, it collapses under the weight of all the special effects laden sequences that populate the latter half of the picture.
McCarthy, McKinnon, Wiig & Jones in Ghostbusters
At this point the laughs become scarce and the picture’s focus rests solely on wowing the audience with ghosts and ghouls that are expected. It works well enough but it just would have been a little more enjoyable for me had Feig and company found a way to keep things a bit more balanced.
The film begins with a dandy and scary five-minute opening sequence that sets things up well. Then it settles into the plot with Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy at the center of the picture as two high school chums with an intense interest in the paranormal, the two coauthored a book about ghost hunting years ago that’s become legend. A reissue of the long forgotten book serves as a catalyst for the them to get in the ghostbusting business, along with McCarthy’s lab assistant (Kate McKinnon) and a spooked MTA worker (Leslie Jones). Chris Hemsworth also turns up in a very funny role as a dimwitted male secretary.
The film must get credit for attempting to pay homage to the original Ghostbusters film franchise. Most of the original’s main stars turn up in one way or another. Even the late, great Harold Ramis is represented with a bronze bust of his head in one early scene. It’s nice that the filmmakers took the time to pay tribute to the original film but, perhaps, that’s part of the problem as this Ghostbusters suffers from just a little bit of a palpable fear of treading too far from the well worn path.
Ghostbusters is playing all over this area, including the Carmike in Hickory.
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