Monday, July 18, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016) - Review

Be slimed.  Be very slimed!
The Ghostbusters are actually quite afraid of ghosts, but you shouldn’t be.

For the first two acts, the ladies in proton packs from Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot yell, scream and run from the very ghosts they set out to hunt.  Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, spend most of their time getting slimed and mastering their streams with hilarious results.

I laughed hard enough to wake the dead.  Don't worry, more puns to follow!

When Erin (Wiig) finds out that a “ghosts are real” book, written in partnership with her estranged friend Abby (McCarthy), has resurfaced and threatens her tenure, she goes to confront the issue.  An obvious, but easily exorcised, plot device to bring the two, along with tech/gearhead/engineering genius Holzmann (McKinnon) into their first spectral confrontation.  The only real complaint comes in the zombie-handed way Patty (Jones) is jackhammered into the team.  Even hilariously airheaded receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) flowed into the group like a Class 5 Full-Roaming Vapor through a hotel wall.  Once the team is assembled—and named—we’re well on our way.

Never cross the streams.
It’s incredibly hard to not compare this 2016 version with the classic and seminal 1984 installment.  Feig does an admirable job of tapping into the “ghosts are real” and “It’s so crazy it just might work” concept team of unappreciated brainiacs with the power to save the day.  He also tamps down the traditional option of turning the camera on McCarthy and letting her say whatever comes along.  Wiig, McKinnon and Jones easily carry their own versions of crazy into a mix that works well.  Hemsworth’s scenes alone are worth the price of admission.

It’s the third act where plot troubles manifest.  Feig walks the line of paying fan service to the original film, narrowly avoiding catchphrases made popular in the original.  But this cleverness backfires, drawing audience chain-rattling-groans at the missed-it-by-that-much moments.  The movie would have been better served with just the small cameos by the majority of original casts members which were delightfully nuanced (hint: watch for the bust of Harold Ramis early in the film, and stay for the after credits).  This also takes time away from the set-up and pay-off that otherwise is actually quite interesting and fun. 

The girls in khaki deliver a fun spectacle of ectoplasmic enjoyment.  The laughs are quick and many, the plot is solid and fun.  It’s not easy trying to live up to the gold standard set by the 1984 version—Ghostbusters II certainly didn’t.  This new film is hilarious, inviting, and a fun way for classic fans to enjoy a new installment, and a new generation of boys and ghouls to be introduced.

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