Ever since the reboot of Ghostbusters had been announced, many fanboys around the world have been sharpening their knives online, preparing them to plunge into the four ladies’ performances before the film had even come out. Now that the film is freshly released onto the big screen, well, this film and the franchise Sony wants to make out of it may be dead upon arrival. In a time where sequels, reboots and reimaginings are coming forth almost daily, why is Ghostbusters at the top of the list when it comes to the most venomous comments I have ever seen regarding a movie. Call it an adverse reaction to change, the threat to their childhood (which is a dumb reason) or just misplaced rage against women, either way, it is complete insanity.
Let’s break this whole reboot down. For a long time, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis had been trying to make a follow up to the 1989 Ghostbusters 2, a film ,mind you, that had terrible reviews and disappointed a large number of the Ghostbusters fan base, me not included. Sadly, due to poor health, Ramis passed away, so the idea of a sequel just didn’t work anymore. Sony then decides to reboot the whole thing and puts Bridesmaids’ director Paul Feig in control. Then comes the revelation that it will be an all lady squad this time, something Peter Venkman himself, Bill Murray, championed as an idea. The cast is then solidified. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones are our new team and everyone lost their minds. Why? Paul Feig had yet to make a terrible movie or, better yet, an unsuccessful movie. This is important.
So, the story has changed as we move from 1984 to 2016 but the constant is the city of New York. After the cold open to set up our first ghost, we meet Erin Gilbert (Wiig), a Columbia professor desperately trying to make tenure but “haunted” by a book about paranormal activity that she wrote with her estranged childhood friend, Abby Yates (McCarthy). After a strange visit from the frightened curator of a historical building, we see in the first scene and on a mission to get all traces of the problem book out of the possible eye reach of the dean at Columbia, Erin seeks out Abby.
Abby has continued her work in the supernatural field but at a far less stellar college than her book’s counterpart. She has hired on the seemingly mad genius of Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon) and they busy themselves by making tech equipment to detect ghosts. In mid-argument, Erin lets it slip about the haunting she was approached with earlier in the day and the three end up going to investigate the claims, with some reluctance in one instance. Without giving spoilers, this is the basic formation of the Ghostbusters with Leslie Jones’ character Patty Tolan, a subway worker who joins later. I will really try to spare you more of the plot but you get the point.
For the months and months leading up to the release of this film, I kept thinking “Trust in Feig”, which helped because the trailers looked awful. I’m happy to say that, at least for me, this film was really a lot of fun. It is nowhere near perfect at all but it is still really funny with great chemistry between all four ladies and the story’s heart, although sometimes having an undeniable cheesiness to it, is endearing here and there. There is a faithfulness to the franchise while adding new directions and taking some really great shots at the naysayers tossing their two cents in, most likely addressing them in real time as they were filming the movie.
The stand outs for this movie are by far our two Saturday Night Live cast members, Jones and McKinnon, who both have enough charm, being Holtzmann’s off the wall oddness or Leslie’s slight New York tough girl approach. It’s known that McCarthy and Wiig work well together but to see all these women gel is really nice. The film goes for jokes that work well for each character, for the most part, avoiding the easy bottom of the barrel bits. Unfortunately, there are a few scenes that just stand out very awkwardly as a completely failed scene and the whole overhanging bit of how low their receptionist Kevin’s (Chris Hemsworth) smarts are is a bit too much.
With a definite franchise on the way, I feel like we are set up far better than many of those other big blockbuster entities are. Yes, there are many glaring issues within Ghostbusters that you can chip away at before it all crumbles but, as I said in my opening, this movie is fun and you can tell everyone involved was having fun too. Looking at the franchises of Transformers and the ill-fated and also Sony produced Amazing Spider-Man, the lack of pure fun and story love is almost non-existent. At least we can say that Dan Aykroyd was fully behind this movie and I fully believe that Harold Ramis would have been happy with this movie too. Sure it goes a bit big at the end but do you remember Ghostbusters 2?
For all of those people who are on the boycott bandwagon because if you acknowledge this film your Blu-ray will fade on the shelf like a Marty McFly Polaroid, well, you’re totally welcome to that irrational thought. My message to the detractors is that all of this raging against Paul Feig, Melissa McCarthy, the female gender and whatever else has been all for naught as the film really isn’t that bad. Like Feig did with Spy, Ghostbusters is a film that is much better than anything would lead you to believe. The performances make it work and it’s actually interesting to see a new take on this classic story but I can’t lie, I will still have the same slight trepidation for the next one. I give Ghostbusters a three and a half out of five.