“I’m not good in a fight.”
“Well, here’s your chance to work on that.”

Ghostbusters is a decent 116 minute sci-fi comedy that continues Sony’s franchise, which was first made famous by the 1984 film of the same name starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis (who this movie was dedicated to) and Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, and Rick Moranis.

Some of these stars from this previous installment appear and/or get homages in this updated reboot.

Director/co-writer/producer Paul Feig (Spy, The Heat) sustains the movie well and makes it surprisingly memorable just like the original film with great support for the special effects crew.

Set in New York City, this movie stars Kristen Wiig as Erin Gilbert, Melissa McCarthy as Abby Yates, Kate McKinnon as Jullian Holtzmann and Leslie Jones as Patty Tolan.

Wiig and McCarthy already have great chemistry together from the film Bridesmaids, also directed by Feig, while McKinnon and Jones work closely together on TV’s Saturday Night Live (SNL).

Erin seems like a straight laced, academic genius while her background provides some decent character development and represents the most effective use of presented dramatic elements.

Abby provides a polar opposite, separate-but-equal compliment who’s flanked by the very capable Jullian. These two spend time actualizing what we (Abby and Erin) theorized, which advances the story well into the action and eventually addition of NY subway worker Patty.

McKinnon has some great lines (e.g. nicely incorporated product placement she describes as “salty parabolas” (a hyperbolic paraboloid shape)). Jones also delivers great zingers (“Okay, room full of nightmares”) while providing a positive morale and physical presence that nicely balances all the scientific methods, which are largely demonstrated through dialogue and great special effects.

This quartet must constantly fight for their credibility, which they succeed in establishing as characters while relating well to audiences with non-scientific, practical descriptions involving these strange events like “’weird sparking thing” as they track, investigate, research/document then act once they have the right tech.

As in the first film, the eventual action elements might expose the team’s weakness in the field, but Jullian’s formidable weapons and gadgets (complete with hilarious back-alley testing sequences) provide the powerful punch well as audiences can easily place themselves in the team’s shoes.

After these ladies predictably form a ghost removal service, they hire Kevin, played by Chris Hemsworth (Thor), as the receptionist/assistant comparable to Potts’ role in the first Ghostbusters film.

Other than an uncomfortably forced comedy bit about a pet’s name, Hemsworth fits nicely into this eccentric role as the hunky, but simple-minded employee as filmmakers provide important and funny details like knee patches on his jeans.

As Rowan North, Neil Casey never equals Moranis’ Louis Tully character in this film and accentuates the overall weakness in presented dramatic elements, character development and logistics.

The story does not follow Rowan’s` main life trauma, which breeds his misguided motivation, and is only directed at Rowan in a phone call. Audiences see the opposite occur to Rowan at a rock concert sequence.

Abby counters Rowan’s trauma perfectly near the end as the crew never forgets to maximize the comedy on any presented element (e.g. theater manager’s scream).

This miscue weakens his impact, which would be reduce to nil without the impressive special effects. Maybe filmmakers were trying to balance the audience reaction (they deliver on the scares though with one memorable sequences beginning with Patty).

The remaining cast provides solid support and more memorable moments, especially Tonight Show announcer/comedian/SNL producer-writer Steve Higgins playing a dean while Charles Dance plays an academic dean on opposite spectrum.

Zach Woods (The Office, Silicon Valley TV series) is perfectly cast as a local tour guide whose colleague, played by Ed Begley Jr., initiates the Ghostbusters team formation.

Karan Soni has a great recurring role among the action as a food delivery man while Adam Ray voice Slimer, the memorable green, gross ghost, as well as the lead singer of a rock band called Beasts Of Mayhem.

Andy Garcia plays the mayor with fellow SNL cast member Cecily Strong playing his assistant while Matt Walsh (TV’s Veep) and Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire) play law enforcement officers.

“Do you have any idea how many federal regulations you are breaking on a daily basis?” the officers say as they grill the Ghostbusters crew while the mayor’s office tries to spin the news to their favor claiming people “can only handle so much and they always move on.”

Filmmakers retain the base formula here where the action drives the story and the characters get some minimal, but worthwhile development though the dramatic side misses the mark.

More creative license with the story would help this film break out of conventional molds (e.g. remembering which character knows New York City best when they bring out a map, etc.) that are surprisingly logistic and mundane.

Filmmakers even forget their own logistics in the film’s climax as certain characters are essentially prevented from acting while the remaining characters are not and instead continue their actions (otherwise the story would stall).

Film does not take itself too seriously with constant cameos, including Daniel Ramis, son of Harold Ramis, while jokes about God being drunk and an anti-Irish security fence do not really enhance the film as much as the music, reversed gender roles, and references.

The music wisely incorporates the familiar theme Oscar® nominated theme song by Ray Parker Jr. as well as several revised versions (e.g. Walk the Moon’s faithful remake), including one by Fall Out Boy with Missy Elliott (her segment was not heard when the song appeared in the film) though Theodore Shapiro‘s musical score does not even come close to equaling Elmer Bernstein’s memorable score of the original Ghostbuster film.

This movie also became a culture touchstone by starting a gender debate when filmmakers cast all females for the leading roles. Patty might have summarized these issues with her line “Okay, I don’t know if it was a race thing or a lady thing, but I’m mad as hell.”

The women take their shots too (Safety lights are for dudes, etc.) and there are endless references from the franchise (Twinkie billboard, “if there’s something strange in the neighborhood…” the Ghost From Our Past book, etc.) and pop culture in general (Patrick Swayze, Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, etc.).

Fans finally get another fun Ghostbusters installment after the second film, Ghostbusters 2, which was released 27 years ago. Recommended with a few reservations (**1/2) and rated PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor. Stay for the extra scenes after the ending during the ending credits, which include a fun music sequence and a set-up for the next installment featuring a familiar villain name.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

This entry was posted in 2010s Film Reviews, Film Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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