In Review: Ghostbusters

Once the cast is suited up, it's a fun flick.

Premiered on  July 15, 2016. 116 minutes, rated PG-13.

Directed by Paul Feig

Screenplay by Katie Dippold and Paul Feig

This movie arrives with an unbelievable amount of baggage because it’s a rebooting of a beloved film. People will either walk in condemning it or with a “show me what you’ve got” attitude. I was in the latter. I love the original, can quote scenes profusely, but I was willing to give this a shot. I’m glad I did. This Ghostbusters is pretty fun.

Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is practicing for her first big presentation in her university’s largest classroom. She’s hoping it will lead to her gaining tenure at the institution. That’s when Ed Mulgrave comes in, played by Ed Begley, Jr. He wants her to come to his mansion which he thinks is haunted. She says she couldn’t help, but he produces a book upon ghosts that she co-wrote with Abby Yates, Melissa McCarthy’s character. Knowing that her belief in ghosts could get endanger her teaching career, Gilbert puts Mulgrave off so she can seek out Yates, who’s put the book up for sale electronically. Tracking down Yates at a Science School, which has the world’s greatest Dean in Steve Higgins (who steals his scene), Erin and Abby reunite and things don’t go well. Not helping is Jillian Holtzmann’s presence, (actress Kate McKinnon) who’s assisting Abby in building equipment to trap ghosts. The three decide to check out things at the mansion and Gilbert has a life, and career, changing moment. Meanwhile, Patty Tolan, played by Leslie Jones, sees a patron getting on the tracks that she monitors on the subway. She follows the man, but encounters a ghost that convinces her she needs to track down the Ghostbusters. This is about the first third of movie, where the characters meet.

Kristen Wiig is the voice of reason in this film, and it’s not a good thing. She has no sense of humor and doesn’t seem to fit in with the other characters. The only humor from her character comes for her pinning for Kevin, the hunky but dumb as post receptionist played by Chris Hemsworth. These moments got a lot of laughter from the audience I saw it with. Mellissa McCarthy’s Abby is confusing. At times she’s smart, and others she’s not. It was difficult to decide which Abby was. However, when the movie reveals the villain, her character became better defined and McCarthy became one of my favorites in the final third of the film. I felt the same with Kate McKinnon’s Jillian. She has a constant look of whacked out glee on her face for the entire film, as if life is a joke that only she can find the joy in. She gets some good laughs, such as the one while looking for ghosts at the concert, but why she does what she does to Gilbert isn’t just immature, it’s dumb. All I could think was it’s lucky she didn’t get her face shot off accidentally. As with Abby, Jillian improves considerably in the final third of the film, beginning the action sequence that finally got the audience cheering for the Ghostbusters — it’s a great action scene. Leslie Jones is the highlight of the film. Every line she has comes off as honest when it needs to be and funny when it’s supposed to get a laugh. Every time she was on the screen the movie jumped up a level. Chris Hemsworth is hysterical. Poking fun at his image as an attractive leading man, with the highlight being his acting 8X10s. By the end of the film, I liked this group of Ghostbusters.

There are also several cameos of actors from the previous films in the franchise. Harold Ramis gets the first as a bust at Gilbert’s school. The final two cameos made the audience cheer; with one being in the middle of the credits. Speaking of the credits, there’s a dance sequence shown that was obviously cut from the film. Seeing it in the credits explains a number of characters’ stances in the final act. It’s a shame that this was cut, because it looks funny and would have been a good inclusion, but this movie is almost two hours long and it would have pushed it over that time limit. I had thought that Ghostbusters was intended to be a summer blockbuster, and those films are always a bit long, so I’m a bit surprised that the length of the film was issue. Oh well. There’s always additional scenes on the DVD release.

The villain is played by Neil Casey. He was a good choice. His character is mousy and upset, which justifies his actions. When his character made a choice that ends the second act it’s very surprising. The final villain of the movie was just not good. It’s not a rehashing of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, but it’s too close. The effects works done on the creature is great, with all the effects on this movie being outstanding, but story-wise it just didn’t work. The scares in this movie were good. Seeing the movie with my daughters, there were several times that I heard them whisper, “Oh no,” when something was about to jump. There’s nothing graphic, but there are a few decent scares to creep out the kiddies, not scar them. Most of them end with explosions of slime. A second viewing of this film would be worthwhile just to look at the effects again.

The worst element of this film was the product placement in the first two-thirds, one featuring a brand of chips and the other a pizza chain. The first is given at least a momentary line of explanation, but it doesn’t work. The dinner scene showed the boxes so much, it took me out of the film. Normally products are placed a little more discretely; not in this film. I expected Wayne and Garth to have cameos at these moments.

That’s about the worst I can say about this film. It takes a while to get going, but once the cast is suited up, it’s a fun flick.

The final line: It’s going to be a labor to match the level of fun of the original Ghostbusters. Does this do that. No. However, this is fun. Do all the jokes work? No. Do most? Yes. Did I feel I got my money’s worth? Absolutely. In fact, when the film ended, I felt hyped up enough up to watch it again to see what I missed the first time. I would pay to see this again and to see a sequel. Oh, STAY THROUGH ALL THE CREDITS!  If you’re a fan of the original film, you’ll be left screaming in anticipation for more. Overall grade: B-

If you’d like to learn more about the film, the homepage is http://www.ghostbusters.com/

 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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