Review: Ghostbusters

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After months of insane back and forth between haters and defenders of the new Ghostbusters, none of whom had actually seen the movie, I can say after seeing it that it’s a fun, hilarious comedy that won’t supplant the original but is still definitely worth checking out.

Although the skeleton of the plot is similar to the 1984 original, there’s enough variation on the specifics that gives this new Ghostbusters enough uniqueness.  Kristen Wiig plays Erin Gilbert, a doctor of physics who is up for tenure at Colombia University but a book about ghosts she wrote with her old friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) pops up back online and threatens her credibility.  When she goes to confront Abby and Abby’s new assistant, Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), she gets dragged along to investigate a haunting at an old NYC mansion and the trio gets actual proof that ghosts exist.  They decide to continue their research despite getting kicked out of both their respective colleges and decide to continue their research independently while also turning it into a business.  When she sees a ghost in the NYC subways, MTA worker Patty Tolan joins the team as well and they also get an almost too dumb to live receptionist in Kevin (Chris Hemsworth).  The main quartet are all great together and some of the best scenes having nothing to do with busting ghosts, like when they are interviewing Kevin for the receptionist job or dealing with the mayor, who secretly approves of what their doing but has to publicly denounce them on the advice of Homeland Security.  Kate McKinnon is definitely the stand out of the group, as she infuses Holtzmann with this crazy, anarchic energy as she gleefully comes up with better and better Ghostbusting tech.  Leslie Jones is a lot of fun as well and not just the yelling stereotype you might have feared from those truly awful trailers.  Chris Hemsworth just seems to be having an absolute blast and they somehow manage to keep topping themselves as far as how stupid he is.  Just when you think he can’t get any dumber, he does something or says something to raise the bar.  Kristen Wiig is kind of the straight person of the quartet and while she has some funny understated lines, I still prefer her when she’s more over the top, like in the Spoils series. Melissa McCarthy does her regular thing and is fun but there’s definitely something missing in the Feig/McCarthy team up when they are hemmed in by the PG-13 rating and McCarthy can’t go on one of her epic, explicit improv rants like in Bridesmaids or Spy.

As far as the actual Ghostbusting, it looks pretty fantastic and the ghost effects are all pretty awesome.  All the ghosts have this otherwordly glow that calls to mind the spirits from The Haunted Mansion at the Disney parks and, especially in 3D, there’s this pretty cool effect where the proton beams and spectral energy goes outside the aspect ratio into the area around the movie.  There’s a lot more than just the regular proton packs in the new Ghostbusters as Holtzmann comes up with grenades, a ghost punching handheld device, a proton shotgun and more.  The climax features all the ladies getting a chance to be bad ass as they take down an army of ghosts invading Times Square and, even when they are just using their normal proton packs, it’s all much more dynamic than anything the original movies.  While the regular ghosts are cool, the main villain Rowan is kind of lame.  He’s using devices to increase paranormal activity because he wants to wipe out the Earth for being bullied but the only time he’s interesting is when he’s in the body of Chris Hemsworth.

There’s a ton of references and jokes throwing back to the original movie and they are really hit or miss.  There’s a pretty good joke about them not being able to afford the rent for the classic GB firehouse but then there’s a really forced bit with a grafitti artist that exists only to introduce the idea of the Ghostbusters logo.  The cameos from the original cast are really hit or miss as well.  Annie Potts’ is great, Dan Aykroyd’s is painful and Bill Murray’s is the most substantial but he’s not particularly funny and Ernie Hudson gets kind of short changed just like always.  There’s also appearances from Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, although the latter gets changed up and is now a haunted parade float.  There’s lots of great comedic talent in side roles as well like Silicon Valley’s Zach Woods as a tour guide, Michael K. Williams and Matt Walsh Homeland Security agents, Andy Garcia as the mayor and Karan Soni aka Dopinder from Deadpool as Benny, who constantly delivers hilariously terrible Chinese take out to Abby and works in the restaurant under the Ghostbusters eventual HQ.

The new Ghostbusters was definitely not worth all the craziness leading up to it.  It’s just a solid, funny summer comedy with some great special effects and a quartet of really hilarious ladies.  It won’t replace the 1984 classic but it does enough that’s unique that I would be up for seeing more from this team in the future.

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