UK Release Date: 11th July 2016
Runtime: 116 minutes
Director: Paul Feig
Writer: Katie Dippold, Paul Feig
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Andy Garcia, Neil Casey, Charles Dance
Synopsis: Four women team up to tackle paranormal threats in New York City and soon cross paths with an occultist attempting to bring about a ghost apocalypse in the city.
When discussing the new, female-led remake of Ghostbusters, there’s an enormous elephant in the room… probably sending sexist tweets and giving the film a one-star rating on IMDb. It’s fair to say that an onslaught of quite frankly ridiculous misogyny has dogged Paul Feig‘s movie at every stage of its development, from the initial announcement to the first trailer, which became the most disliked in YouTube history. Unwittingly, Ghostbusters became the symbol for the entire movement to get more women in film, so I am delighted to report that it’s a thoroughly enjoyable movie.
Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is pursuing a career as a university lecturer, when the reappearance of a paranormal book she co-wrote with childhood friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) shoots down her credibility. Erin tracks Abby down and discovers she is researching ghosts with new colleague Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). After discovering an apparition, they establish a team to capture ghosts in New York City, with the hope of local subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) and dim-witted receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth). Soon, they realise that occultist Rowan (Neil Casey) is looking to open up a portal to bring ghosts flooding through into the real world.
In the build-up to the release of Ghostbusters, there seemed to be a perception building that the original movie is an untouchable classic. This simply is not true. The 1984 Ghostbusters is a very funny popcorn movie with an offbeat twist, focusing on fun above all else. This new film is very much in that spirit, prioritising punchlines over action. Feig’s film, which he co-wrote with Parks and Recreation scribe Katie Dippold, is a rapid fire joke machine, utilising the wildly improvisational style favoured by modern Hollywood comedies. It’s an approach that doesn’t always create gold, but gives Ghostbusters a feel of energetic spontaneity.
The central foursome have real chemistry and play well off each other in the improvisational scenes. The Saturday Night Live experience of many of the performers is evident, especially in the case of Kate McKinnon, whose take on the team’s weapon specialist is incredibly off-kilter, but instantly memorable. The same can be said of Leslie Jones, whose character is far more integral to the group than her trailer appearances suggest. Wiig and McCarthy, meanwhile, play their roles uncharacteristically straight in comparison to their co-stars and, perhaps as a result, their characters feel slightly undercooked. This proves to be a problem in the third act when their friendship proves crucial to the resolution of the narrative, which feels rather unearned given how little time is spent on developing their relationship.
It seems odd in a female-led movie to heap praise on one of the male members of the cast, but Chris Hemsworth is exceptional in Ghostbusters as the team’s rather slow receptionist, mystified by the ways of telephones and covering his eyes when a loud noise happens. It’s this gender flip that wins more laughs than the nods to the film’s criticism, which the script gets in early so that it can get on with building towards its action-packed finale, which does feature the central characters rather pointedly shooting a ghost in the dick.
That action finale is in many ways Ghostbusters strongest sequence, focusing as it does on entertainingly over-cranked, colourful CGI. Feig showed with The Heat and Spy that he can direct action as well as comedy and his work in the final moments of this film is intelligent in delivering a city-destroying climax without falling into the trap of losing the vibrant visuals. The action here pops with colour and inventive creature design that brings an unusual energy to proceedings, even as the city falls apart in conventional fashion. The aforementioned emotional finale doesn’t quite ring true, but this film did what it needed to do. It proved that women can bust the shit out of ghosts just as well as men.
Pop or Poop?
It’s far from perfect and more than a little rough around the edges, but Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot is far from the train wreck that the sexist soothsayers predicted. The four central cast members, plus delightful doofus Chris Hemsworth, bring a real comic energy to the film that ensures it is too breezy and good-natured to ever be in any way hateable.
The action scenes are fun with the come, the comedy mostly lands and the cameos don’t feel overly forced or weighty. It might not be vintage Ghostbusters, but these girls certainly ain’t afraid of no trolls.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.