Film Review: ‘Ghostbusters’ reboots the franchise in a very fun way 

ghostbusters_ver8We all should have trusted in Paul Feig. Yes, I was with some of the naysayers when I first saw the Trailers for the reboot of Ghostbusters, wondering why it just wasn’t funnier. I had no issue with the gender swap or any of the nonsense on the internet about boycotts, but I was hoping to see something that reminded me more of the classic. Well, now I can report back that it’s certainly a different animal than the original, but it’s a worthy successor and a fun new step for what’s essentially a whole new franchise. Feig, armed with his comfort zone of actresses Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, along with his co-writer here Katie Dippold, has crafted a fun summer movie romp. While it’s not as hilarious as the first one, the new Ghostbusters has a similar vibe of chemistry between cast members, which was always going to be essential for this one to work. There’s a bit more effort put into the action or horror elements here, but this is still decidedly a comedy that Feig has made. In a similar way to Spy, he blends genres, seeking to have his film succeed on multiple fronts. There are a few missteps that I’ll get into below, but by and large this is a crowd pleaser. The flick has more than enough to offer, resulting in not just an easy recommendation but a slightly enthusiastic one as well. Ghostbusters is actually one of 2016’s first successful summer blockbusters.

In broad strokes, the premise here is the same as in the original, in that it follows a quartet that comes together to essentially be the first legitimate ghost hunters the world has seen. Here, the group begins with Erin Gilbert (Wiig) seeking out former colleague Abby Yates (McCarthy) in order to get the latter to stop selling a widely derided book on the paranormal that the two co-wrote years ago. It’s a potential hinderance to Erin getting tenure at Columbia, so it needs to go. She visits Abby, who now teams with tech nerd and all around oddball Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), and in passing mentions an incident involving someone asking her to check out a potential haunting. Though they’ve fallen out with each other, this brings them together, along with Jillian, making for the first steps of a ghost busting team, which is needed considering the uptick in apparitions popping up in New York City. They get a first fan and then teammate in MTA worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), who helps them along, as well as a bumbling secretary in Kevin (Chris Hemsworth). All of them will have to come together in order to stop what’s happening, as a creep (Neil Casey) is hell bent on releasing scores of the worst ghosts into the world. Obviously, who ya gonna call?

PHOkoeGsy0umRT_1_lConsidering the talent involved, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the cast has excellent chemistry with each other. For my money, Kate McKinnon is best in show, but all four more than pull their weight. McKinnon simply gets to have the most fun, channeling the anarchy of Bill Murray (who does cameo, in case you were wondering, along with most of the surviving original cast members) while also honoring the neediness of the late Harold Ramis. I was utterly delighted with her work here. Kristen Wiig has the closest thing to a lead role here, but this is truly an ensemble piece. Wiig again has tremendous rapport with Melissa McCarthy, who also is a fantastic match with McKinnon. Leslie Jones comes on a bit later, but she brings a great energy to the proceedings as well. If Wiig and McCarthy are more or less playing the type of Feig characters they’re known for, McKinnon (especially) as well as Jones bring a new flavor. Together, they’re great. Chris Hemsworth is having the time of his life as a moronic hunk, and he’ll generate a lot of the laughter when he’s on screen. If there’s a weakness overall here, it’s Neil Casey, who is kind of a lame villain. Also in the cast, besides the cameos, we have Ed Begley Jr., Charles Dance, Andy Garcia, Cecily Strong, Matt Walsh, Michael Kenneth Williams, Zach Woods, and more. It’s a strong ensemble, but holy crap could I go on and on about the brilliance of McKinnon here. She is just having an absolute ball, and it rubs off on you.

Paul Feig deserves points for making a progressive blockbuster, but he and the aforementioned Katie Dippold deserve more credit for just making Ghostbusters work as a fun summer comedy. The two do address the internet’s panning of a gender swap in one clever little scene, but by and large it’s just accepted that these women would take the job. There’s no passing of the proverbial torch, nor does there need to be. Feig is working with a much larger budget than usual, and while he doesn’t utilize cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman as well as he could, he still crafts a nice looking film. The same goes for the movie’s score, credited to Theodore Shapiro. This isn’t the brilliance of Bridesmaids, but it’s a snug fit in Feig’s filmography with the likes of The Heat and Spy. Aside from a lack of a strong villain and a bit of unoriginality when it comes to the ghosts, most of the choices here work. If he chooses to make a sequel, I’ll be very interested to see where it goes. This could easily become a successful franchise, and considering how much less beloved the original Ghostbusters 2 is, the bar to clear won’t be nearly as high next time around.

If you were nervous about Ghostbusters, let me sum this up by saying that your fears have been allayed. The cinematic wheel isn’t being reinvented here, but during a summer in which almost every big property has underwhelmed, this is a solidly pleasing film. It’s the sort of thing that perhaps shouldn’t be one of the blockbuster season’s crowning achievements, but it is, and we have to take this for what it is. Especially if you like the cast, you should enjoy what Feig has crafted here, with McKinnon probably winning your heart like she won mine. I don’t think it’s going to win over the most unreasonable of internet trolls, but aside from them, Ghostbusters should work for you and leave you with a nice little smile on your face.

GRADE: (★★★)

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