Ghostbusters (2016, 1 hr, 56 mins.)
The revamp of the classic comedy Ghostbusters has been the subject of nerd controversy ever since word got out that there would be a new film and an all female cast. There was the infamously hated trailer, the championed the girl power angle, and the bellyaching, diehard fans who pooh-poohed the idea and spewed purist commentary to whoever had an ear to listen. While the nerd storm rages on, this light and silly film was a fun addition to the ghost chasing tradition.
Erin (Kristen Wiig) is a physicist eyeing a job with tenure at Columbia, but is “haunted” by a book she penned with her then friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) about the paranormal in which she strongly stated her belief in ghosts. Erin is desperately trying to hide this fact, but the book’s discovery by a descendant of the Aldridge Mansion Ed Mulgrave (Ed Begley Jr.) has tracked not only the book down, but Erin herself in the hopes that she can help with a haunting there. Erin seeks out Abby to stop her revival of the book which jeopardizes Erin’s chances of moving up in the world. When Abby hears about the Aldridge haunting, Erin reluctantly goes along, and they, along with Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), a kooky engineering whiz kid and Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), a seasoned New Yorker with a wealth of historic information about the city, begin a paranormal escapade that involves plenty of crazy antics and ectoplasm in order to save the Big Apple from ghosts once again.
I went into the theatre with no expectations. I knew about the kerfuffle over the female cast and the purist haters, but I stayed clear of it because I didn’t want any bias for when I saw the film. As the end credits rolled, I think the IMdb rating of 5.4 is a little harsh. I was expecting some major story issues that veered off into far, far left field in terms of the Ghostbusters universe, but was surprised that it stayed really, almost too close to the formula of an intro to the team who then realizes there’s a threat and the subsequent resolution. I though it was a fun, summer popcorn movie that paid homage to the franchise and I’m still wondering what the issue is.
Great one liners, kicky comedic timing, and the swooning over Chris Helmsworth as their handsome but ditzy receptionist Kevin hit all the right notes for something light, funny and unapologetically cute. McKinnon and Jones steal the show, and I’m glad. McCarthy and Wiig had their vehicle of Bridesmaids to catapult them into the comedy classic annals, leaving plenty of room for others to shine. It could also be that McKinnon and Jones have great chemistry because they’re current castmates on SNL. My only wish was that the surviving cast of the original 1984 film had reprised their roles instead of the random cameos placed in the film. I think that would have made for something with a bit more substance.
And I simply don’t understand the trailer controversy. The pointless amount of time people spent critiquing, commenting and whining over a 2-and-a-half-minute clip to promote a film that they can’t get back. Newsflash: Most trailers are misleading, too long, crappy or give you a false idea of what the film will be. I didn’t see anything unusually bad about the Ghostbusters trailer, in fact, I didn’t really pay attention to it except to note the cast and that the reboot was nigh. Another thing was all the vitriol against feminism spouted by the haters. How Sony had some sort of “social justice” agenda. Who knew casting four women would cause such a furor?
The character of Patty Tolan was also criticized for being a black stereotype. I have a fine-tuned stereotype radar, and while I felt some of her wardrobe was probably considered “black” attire, and I agree with the criticism that she should have been a black scientist, her character was one of my favourites (especially during the concert scene). She didn’t translate as “street-smart” as she is often described, but as a native New Yorker and historian, and having seen Jones’ stand-up act, she adds a bit of her shtick to the character of Patty.
I was in a theatre of mostly kids, and it was nice to hear them laughing at the gags and discovering a new take on the franchise. There were also the older movie-goers like myself, including a woman who hooted and hollered each time an original ghostbuster made a cameo. That made for a great time, reminded me why I liked the original and defied the lukewarm reviews floating around out there amidst all the school yard pouting about whether girl ghostbusters are better than boy ghostbusters.