GHOSTBUSTERS (USA/12A/156mins)
Directed by Paul Feig. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Andy Garcia, Karan Soni, Bill Murray, Ed Begley Jr., Charles Dance, Zach Woods.
THE PLOT: With her academic career about to take a giant leap forward, as the dean (Dance) promises a bright future ahead, uptight Erin Gilbert (Wiig) is more than a little appalled when she discovers that an early collaborative book touting the existence of supernatural activity has been reprinted by her former friend, Abby Yates (McCarthy). The latter still believes in ghosts, and when she promises to cease and desist with the reprinting the book in return for Erin coming out on an urgent house call, the old duo quickly realise that, yep, New York has a new ghost infestation. And it’s getting worse by the day.
Pulling together a ragbag team – Abby bringing along her nutty professor assistant (McKinnon), and subway worker Patty (Jones) – the media quickly dubs this fearsome feline foursome tackling the poltergeist phenomena Ghostbusters. Which isn’t meant to be entirely flattering, especially when New York’s mayor (Garcia) convinces them that his debunking their regular findings is important for the city’s sanity…
THE VERDICT: There’s an hour of blissful, smart, silly comedy to be had in this long-gestating and troubled update of’Ghostbusters’, but that 60 minutes of fun is all mixed up with another hour of, well, meh.
On the plus side, director Paul Feig (‘Freaks & Geeks’, ‘Bridesmaids’, etc) casts all his supporting players with top-of-the-range funny folk, has two very fine leading comediennes in Wiig and McCarthy, garners some hilarious Pitt-worthy beefcake parody from Chris Hemsworth, and is savvy enough to be aware of the remake stakes, the pop culture references, and the audience. ‘Ghostbusters’ works best at letting us in on the gags.
On the downside, ‘SNL’ also-ran Katie McKinnon’s contribution to the main team is a misguided cross between Molly Ringwald and Poochie, the talking dog, from ‘The Simpsons’, the cameos from original ‘Ghostbusters’ Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd (one of the executive producers) and Ernie Hudson fail to spark (ditto Weaver), the bombastic closing battle is largely just that – bombastic – and, well, there’s at least an hour here that could have been jettisoned.
When McCarthy and Wiig close with the double-tag “Well, that ain’t terrible” and “No, that ain’t terrible at all”, they may be having fun with the audience, but, ultimately, you are left with the impression that everyone here simply knew they had bitten off more than they could chew.
RATING: 3/5
Review by Paul Byrne

  • filmbuff2011

    After an absence of 27 years from our cinema screens, the Ghostbusters are back… but not as we remember them. Having been caught in a vicious circle of corrosive and unfairly misogynistic Internet chatter, including becoming the most dis-liked trailer in YouTube’s history, it’s with some relief to say that Ghostbusters 2016 is actually half-way decent.

    After initial speculation that it was as a passing-of-the-torch story, it’s actually a remake/reboot of the 1984 classic – though a loose one at that. The basic story set-up is much the same. Erin (Kristen Wiig) is trying to gain respectability in her university, but a book about ghosts and the supernatural that she co-wrote with Abby (Melissa McCarthy) soon resurfaces, thanks to Abby. Both of them soon get kicked out of their universities due to their supposedly crackpot theories, with no future in sight. An encounter with an actual spirit in a haunted house changes things, leading Erin, Abby and her boffin friend Jillian (Kate McKinnon) to New York. They want to set up a ghost-busting business to tackle a sudden outbreak of the supernatural, utilising their knowledge, resources and know-how. The lady ghostbusters are soon joined by Patty (Leslie Jones), a former subway worker who ain’t afraid of no ghosts, and Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), their dim-witted and hunky receptionist. But hotel worker Dean (Neil Casey) has other ideas, as he wants to unleash the supernatural on New York and elevate himself to become their master…

    Given all the advance negativity about director Paul Feig’s new take on the Ghostbusters, expectations were admittedly low. But Feig and his crew of very funny women, much like in Bridesmaids, have defied the naysayers and tried their best to come up with something that respectfully tips its hat to the original, while re-energising the story for a new generation. The story, by Feig and Katie Dippold, is light on its feet, not taking itself seriously at all. They could have gone with a straight retread, but instead they’ve gone for something that feels quite different while also feeling slightly familiar. That’s a smart move on the part of Feig and Dippold, as the words ‘remake’ and ‘reboot’ often have negative connotations. It feels like the original, but it also stands on its own two feet (floating a few feet off the ground of course).

    The switching of genders is a non-event really, as the main four are so well-written that you’re soon swept along by their madcap adventures. As Feig has mentioned before, women are funny. What’s wrong with playing that up? Feig has a lot of fun playing with conventional stereotypes too, particularly with Hemsworth’s hilarious receptionist. We already know that he has a keen ear for comic timing, but Hemsworth has a ball sending himself up. There’s great chemistry between Wiig, McCarthy and Saturday Night Livers McKinnon and Jones. They work together as a team and make these heroines worth rooting for. The film is loaded with easter eggs too, with many of the original cast returning for cameos – though not as their original characters. It would be churlish to spoil them here – better to just spot them yourself. It feels like a stamp of approval, including that of original director Ivan Reitman, who produces here along with Dan Aykroyd.

    While Ghostbusters 2016 is better than expected, it’s not as good as this reviewer had hoped for. There are some bum notes early on, like some juvenile humour that feels more at home in something like Bad Neighbours 2. The main villain, Dean, is under-written and comes across as more of an oddball, though not in an amiable Rick Moranis way. While the original had some spooky scares, there’s nothing really spooky at all about the new film. So, how did it get a 12A? The spooks are cartoonish at best, with a riot of floaty, glowing CGI towards the climax. It just feels a little thin and uneventful, when a demon dog and something off-kilter and weird like Gozer would have done just fine.

    Ghostbusters 2016 is a mixed bag, but the overall impression is a fairly decent one. It’s clear that Feig and his cast have put a lot of thought and effort into making it. It may not always hit the mark, but this reviewer has to admit to being pleasantly surprised and mildly entertained – and that’s coming from a reviewer who grew up with the 1984 original and is skeptical about reboots/remakes. A spirited re-invention where a sequel wouldn’t be unwelcome. Stay for the end credits… ***