When the trailers for Paul Feig’s reboot (make no mistake this is a reboot only with an all female cast) of Ghostbusters surfaced on the web, people were mortified and immediately began trashing the film. The thing was still being made and people were dumping on it. I waited and waited to reserve judgment. I wanted to see it for myself. The original is a classic, to me. It is one of the all time best comedies I have ever seen. The casting, script, direction and visuals all worked with an energy and a chemistry that makes the original Ghostbusters hold its own still in 2016. I already knew the new film would not be even in the same ballpark as the original. I understood and accepted that. You cannot improve on perfection. But maybe, the new film would be a decent stand alone film. Maybe? Did we really even need a reboot for this franchise?
As I said, this Ghostbusters is a complete reboot. No reference is made to the original in any decisive way, less for a brief hint, here and there. Script writers Katie Dippold and director Paul Feig, have opted to start from scratch, but rather than start with fresh ideas, they start with a relative carbon copy of the original film. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) and visiting Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) are thrown off of their campus and their funding pulled. They end up in an abandoned Chinese restaurant where they base their paranormal investigations out of and start busting ghosts. They hire the handsome Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) to be their receptionist. He is as dumb as a bag of hammers, but easy on the ladies’ eyes, so they keep him on. Soon after, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) arrives as the Ernie Hudson character from the first Ghostbusters.
They have fulfilled the casting requirements to the letter and their chemistry is undeniable. The story, for all of its effort to be different from the first two films, is a tired rehash of the first two films. There is the obligatory scene with the mayor of New York City (Andy Garcia) along with ghosts and ghouls flying through the streets as in the first two films. There is also enough goop thrown around for two more films. Everyone gets “slimed”. There is an effort to entertain, but it only works sporadically. Ironically, the duo that gets the most laughs are Holtzman and Kevin. They could have their own film and it would be very funny. Who knew Chris Hemsworth had the comic chops and he is very funny, here. I have always been a big fan of Kate McKinnon and she is the brightest most cheerful character on screen. Wiig and McCarthy do what they can but are so restrained they came across as boring in a rather sterile plot. There are cameos of the original Ghostbusters cast with the exception of two; Rick Moranis who was asked, but wisely decided to steer clear of this and Harold Ramis who sadly passed away in 2014. The cameos, though, don’t add up to anything. You would think they would utilize some of the original players to enhance this story, but no dice.
Paul Feig, whose Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy all entertained me to no end, can handle comedy better than just about anybody, today. Those films were fresh, funny, observant and clever. With Ghostbusters, Feig tries quite hard to make this film stand on its own, but the more it tries, the more it falls short. Instead, where there were gut busting laughs in the original, gives way to mere chuckles with this film. They introduce the new Ecto 1, Ghostbuster mobile and it is merely thrown on screen. They can’t even get the siren sound to be interesting. I remember in the original Ghostbusters, that the siren was hysterical; a sort of a strangling-the-cat only in reverse. The visual effects are sufficient and work within the story but the story is always playing catch-up and never seems to find its footing. Theodore Shapiro’s score and the many renditions of the revamped Ghostbusters theme do manage to keep the film watchable. Ghostbusters is not awful, but it is not worth rushing out to see it in theaters, either. It is another lifeless, but amiable waste of time from Hollywood’s assembly line of filmmaking.
Ghostbusters – **1/2 out of 5
Ghostbusters – Rated PG-13 for violence, some language, and frightening images
Ghostbusters – Run Time is 120 minutes
Ghostbusters is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations.