Hot Take: A fun ride. It occasionally embodies the spirit of the original, sometimes delivers some freshness to the concept and from time to time gets bogged down with cheesy, cheap effects. It’s imperfectly not bad.
With all the negative hype around the Paul Feig all-female reboot of Ghostbusters, it was hard not to be intrigued by the movie. The trailers weren’t as bad as the YouTube backlash they received but they weren’t great, either. The casting of Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones in the primary roles was an excellent decision but tough to compete with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson.
Let’s start with the positives. There was probably never any chance the reboot lived up to the original. Mainly because we all saw the original at a younger age (and in some cases much younger — I was 8 when the original débuted) and our tastes in entertainment aren’t as refined. Anything we saw in our youth is usually much better than what we see as an adult. Take your top 5 movies from your childhood and rematch them. My guess is you’ll question your pre-teen critical self. I do every time I happen to trip across The Monster Squad which I must have watched 30 times as a kid but now can’t make it through more than 30 minutes. Despite the fact the new Ghostbusters wasn’t going to be as “good” as our memory of the original, the new one, for the most part, holds its own. It does an excellent job of becoming its own entity as only the cameos sprinkled throughout the film remind you of the original.
While the film captures the essence of the original, it isn’t a copycat. That’s a huge win here. You don’t find yourself comparing Kristen Wiig’s Erin Gilbert and Melissa McCarthy’s Abby Yates to Harold Ramis’s Egon Spengler or Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman. This applies to Kate McKinnon’s off-the-wall Jillian Holtzmann and Leslie Jones’s Patty Tolan who would step into similar but different roles originally occupied by Dan Aykroyd as Ray Stantz and Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore. It’s refreshing to see the angles Feig’s script takes when given the opportunity to take the easy route and repeat what was done 30-plus years ago. So, kudos to the originality.
Once you realize this isn’t going to be a gender bending regurgitation, the movie becomes a fun ride. The actors look to be having a blast which makes it easy to enjoy. McKinnon especially looks to have been waiting a lifetime for a role like Holtzmann and doesn’t waste a second of screen time. Her bizarre turn is purposely over the top and works perfectly. As the main characters, Wiig and McCarthy never become overbearing which both have done in previous roles to the detriment of their films. This applies to McCarthy especially who has a habit of dominating the films she is in. Jones also shines in her role and never feels like a fifth wheel. Compared to the original, the balance of the characters might actually be the one thing this Ghostbusters does better. If you asked 50 people who the star of the original is, you’ll probably get Bill Murray more often than not. If you asked the same question of this version, you’re going to get a more balanced response. (For this viewer it was McKinnon.)
The new Ghostbusters is far from perfect. The opening act is a bit rough and it takes a while to get going. You’d think the nostalgic cameos of the original cast members would be welcome but they’re actually a little bit distracting in some cases. The action is more intense than the original but at times feels like The Real Ghostbusters, the animated series that followed the success of the original film. Plus, all that 3D nonsense in a 2D viewing causes some serious eye rolling and shoulder shrugging. The plot isn’t all that memorable, either. So, the reboot ends up being good but not great.
In a season full of reboots and sequels, Ghostbusters isn’t one of the many that feel unnecessary which is a huge amount of praise to give to a movie that had so much stacked against it. For the most part, this summer’s trip down memory lane has lacked the fun and excitement that caused us to go down that road in the first place. Thanks to Ghostbusters, when we’re looking for that fun, we know who to call.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- It’s Funny… Even Laugh Out Loud Funny At Times
Feig does comedy and there are enough funny bits in Ghostbusters to satisfy those not really looking for an action-heavy ghost hunting flick.
Chris Hemsworth’s dumber than a box of rocks receptionist has a number of scene stealing moments and sets up the female foursome for some humorous interactions with each other and with Hemsworth.
- McKinnon Shines
Of the four Ghostbusters, McKinnon’s Holtzmann sticks out and often steals the show. Her quirkiness and delivery are magnetic and she’s the one you hope keeps popping up.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Those Cameos
Admittedly, there’s no way we’d have been okay with not seeing the original cast make some pop ins. However, the ones that actually matter feel distracting and, for some reason, don’t really work.
- The Cartoonish Action
Some of the action is good and some feels too cartoonish. There’s nothing more annoying than shots that only work in 3D as most of us aren’t opting for the overrated 3D experience.