HOLLYWOOD—You have to give things a chance. We all have high expectations when an American favorite like “Ghostbusters” gets remade. Stories take on lives of their own though. When they are remade they are often reimagined. Just look at Shakespeare’s plays, fairy tales, and Disney characters if you don’t believe me. The new “Ghostbusters” isn’t the 1984 version, and it’s not without its problems. Despite this, it is a fun and visually stunning new take on the classic.
The story follows scientists Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), and engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) as they prove ghosts are real and form the titular team. They are soon joined in their adventures by amateur historian Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) and their moronic yet lovable receptionist Kevin Beckman (Chris Hemsworth). They end up facing off with villainous Rowan North (Neil Casey), resulting in an epic battle to save New York City.
When you’re doing a new take on a beloved classic I feel that you should just make it your own. Sure you respect the original, but you have to put your own stamp on it. Sometimes Kate McKinnon was trying to pull off that Bill Murrayesque nonchalant, deadpan kind of humor. She was a lot funnier when she portrayed Holtzmann as more outrageous. The best parts of Holtzmann weren’t her Murrayesque scenes, but for example the one scene where she starts duel wielding pistols attached to her proton pack after licking one of the barrels.
The plot did share a very similar structure to the original, and I felt the writers were a bit lazy in that regard. A little bit of originality and innovation would have been appreciated.
Without a doubt the movie is funny, but some of the jokes fell flat. An early scene that had a bit about someone soiling their pants exemplified the film’s at times juvenile humor.
Don’t let the film’s problems put you off though. The cast did have great chemistry, and their interactions are often times hysterical. The best jokes in the film are the feminist ones. As many people are aware there was a lot of backlash on the internet to the movie featuring an all female main cast, and much of it was tinged with truly ugly, often overt misogyny.
The film has a lot of meta type jokes about this. Ones where they are reading YouTube comments under a video they posted of a ghost encounter and getting flipped off by an immature man child are especially great. You can also appreciate some of the cracks about modern topics like hipsters and exorbitant rent.
Chris Hemsworth is outstanding in his role. Who knew the star of “Thor” and “Blackhat” was such a funny guy. Hemsworth’s Kevin is constantly being ogled by Kristen Wiig’s Erin. There is a subversive humor in having the tremendously handsome Hemsworth serve as a stupid secretary noticed only for his physical beauty. It inverts well known gender stereotypes, and sends a defiant, how do you like it, to hell with you type of message to the films misogynistic critics.
It’s Leslie Jones who steals the show though. In my estimation, she’s the funniest member of the team. She’s the one member of the group without scientific credentials, but her knowledge of New York history makes her every bit the asset that her teammates are. She’s a much more down to Earth character than the other Ghostbusters, and that adds balance to the group. Her encounters with the supernatural are hilarious, and provide some of the film’s biggest laughs.
The special effects are a real treat. The ghosts this time around are a lot more frightening. This makes for fantastic action scenes, and adds an epic quality to the climactic battle that even the original lacked.
There are some great cameos from the original cast. They had a sense of sadness to them though as they highlighted Harold Ramis’ absence in light of his 2014 death. We miss you Egon.
Is it the great blockbuster film of our generation? I don’t think so, but it was a visually awesome, hilarious, subversive, not to mention wildly fun ride.
By Mathew Foresta