Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Neil Casey
From the get-go, this reboot of the original Ghostbusters faced questions of legitimacy. The ‘80s classic – though not perfect – is so well loved. The other, uglier spirit haunting this relaunch was the sexist question as to whether female comics could carry the franchise as well as the males did in the first. (We’ll pretend the late-’80s sequel doesn’t exist…)
Well, fear not the unknown, people. The women are wonderful. (Apparently you don’t need a penis to be funny…). Also, the last 45 minutes of this film are excellent. The scenes leading up to the big finale, though, are wispy and dismissible.
Ghostbusters starts with a whiz-bang scare reminiscent of the first movie. A tour guide becomes distinctly aware that a malevolent ghost haunts his NYC mansion.
Then, there’s a cut-away, and the flick immediately goes limp…like a hole-filled sheet in a strong wind.
Wiig once co-wrote a book on ghosts with McCarthy. Now Wiig is trying to get tenure at Columbia. She’s worried that her previous work will ruin her chances.
When the people at the haunted mansion come calling, the specter business sucked the women back into the afterworld. Slowly, we meet our team of wackos – prim and proper Wiig, scientific loose cannon McCarthy, crazed inventor McKinnon, and subway guide Jones. Hemsworth adds the beefcake factor as their dippy, handsome receptionist.
It’s easy to say Jones and Hemsowrth don’t have enough to do. With her brilliant improv comedy, McKinnon often steals the comic thunder. But really, her character also has no arc whatsoever. Even McCarthy and Wiig are pale comparisons of real, fleshed-out characters.
The physical bits are funny. That’s what saves Ghostbusters from the grave.
However, there’s that question of legitimacy. A legitimate movie would’ve had a more complex script. Things would’ve happened that build to that fun finale. Surprises would’ve popped up. Too much of this feels like strung-together bits – some funny, others so light and ephemeral that the movie dies a little.
Even the villain – a dead-eyed nerd (Casey) – is a little flimsy.
For this, we could blame director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, That Thing You Do, Knocked Up). He has a gift with comedy, but he cannot seem to recognize when he doesn’t have a script (Spy, The Heat).
That aforementioned theme of legitimacy could’ve easily been more central. With this, action sequences and comic scenes could’ve been formed around these women trying to gain credibility, both as females and as crazed ghost hunters.
Then there’s that city destroying battle, which is a blast. Sure, it would’ve been more fun to see how the ghosts and symbols emerged from the early film. None of that happens. However, the jokes are plentiful, the slapstick is hilarious, and the ending feels appropriately Apocalyptic. That’s enough to legitimize a sequel.
Let’s just hope it has more life than the first sequel.