I can’t think of another movie ever that has faced quite such a negative reaction before its release than the remake of Ghostbusters. The original film is beloved (and rightfully so), and the announcement of a reboot led to all kinds of scorn – it was an unnecessary cash grab, it would never capture the magic of the original and, worse of all, it cast women in the lead roles (it’s madness, I tell you). Its trailer became the most disliked thing on Youtube ever – to say that there was a lack of positivity is an understatement. Although all this indignation was completely unfair, the fact of the matter is that now the film is in cinemas, we can say conclusively that it is simply not very good.
Physicist Erin Gilbert (Kirsten Wiig) is applying for tenure, and unhappy to find a book from her past make a reappearance – one advocating the reality of ghosts. She confronts co-author Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and meets engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), with the three of them winding up confronting a ghost. The group are joined by subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), and the four women find themselves facing a man eager to summon the departed spirits of New York and bring about the apocalypse.
A lot was made of the cast, so let’s look at them – on the strength of this movie, the fact they were marketed as four of the funniest comediennes in the world seems to be a bit of a lie. Wiig is funny, and I’ve seen her be funny, but she is positioned as the straight man – she does a competent job. Melissa McCarthy dials down her normal loud shtick, instead adopting a professor persona that is as funny as it usually is, and Jones is brash and stereotypical – I can say nothing more. McKinnon is the highlight, with a character who is equally mixes brilliant and mad and if any of them make you laugh, it’ll be her.
Neil Casey’s villain is a boring character – his plan is essentially to kill everybody on Earth because not everybody loves him, and he doodles it lovingly in a book for reasons that can only be described as narrative. His blandness extends into the finale, which comes and goes so quickly it’s hardly worth bothering with. I wasn’t a fan of Chris Hemsworth’s secretary either (half of the film’s feminism seems to be making the women look good by making every man in the picture a moron or a crook) – he is so stupid that it isn’t funny.
This is a big problem with the film – the humour just isn’t there (in the course of two hours, I laughed once at a side character). Part of it is that the script is weak, but part is that it doesn’t stem naturally from the situation – an example is Gilbert joking about Patrick Swayze movies after a man she respected and admired was thrown from a window and (presumably) killed. The jokes are forced, and they feel like jokes – that feeling helps render them unfunny. Whereas the original movie was subtle and the humour fit, here it tries too hard to shoehorn gags and they fall flat.
Thinking of the originals, every original main cast member (with the exception of the late Harold Ramis and Rick Moranis) makes a cameo appearance. I won’t spoil them, in case you in explicably want to go and see this, but they fortunately aren’t gratuitous enough to detract too much (with the exception of Murray (although he looks like he wants to get right out of there), whose cameo is exactly what everyone guessed it would be) – sadly, they don’t add a lot either. They are pretty much fan service to compensate for the drudgery of watching it.
The best that can be said of Ghostbusters is that it is a culturally important film, but it is in every other sense a poor one. It is unnecessary, and it adds nothing good to the mix (the way it butchers the theme song is a good example of this) – it is unfunny, poorly executed and lame. To all the haters out there, don’t hate Ghostbusters because you adore the original, or because it has a cast of women – hate it because it is terrible.
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Kirsten Wiig (Erin Gilbert), Melissa McCarthy (Abby Yates), Kate McKinnon (Jillian Holtzmann), Leslie Jones (Patty Tolan), Chris Hemsworth (Kevin Beckman), Neil Casey (Rowan North)
Running Time: 116 Mins