Maybe Should Have Stayed Dead
Reviewed by Mason Manuel
The past few years have been chock full of frenzied studios rebooting beloved franchises with mixed success. Every one of them was met with a mix of well-deserved pessimism and excitement before release as we have all been hurt before by heartless cash grabs trying to make a quick buck off of fond childhood memories. But the Ghostbusters situation was a bit different. Any excitement was quickly nodded off by many angry internet commenters screaming at how the film was just a lame attempt at pacifying today’s politically correct culture and not an attempt to build upon a great franchise. Though wholly unfair, the complaints had a ring of truth behind them. Would the film be a simple “power to women” piece rather than a re-imagination of a cool idea with a funny female cast? As it turns out, the new team of Ghostbusters are actually a hell of a good time. The movie however… probably should have stayed in the crypt.
Ghostbusters is not a sequel but an entirely fresh slate. The old team of poltergeist hounds never existed which leaves the world completely open for an ectoplasmic attack. Enter Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristin Wiig) and Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy); co-authors of a novel tackling the supernatural. Gilbert is trying to bury the novel so that she can get tenure with a university run by the criminally short appearance of Charles Dance. Yates has fared slightly worse, working at a community college that forgot her department existed. The film spends most of its time on this pair which is a shame because they are easily the least interesting of the four. They tackle their uncompelling relationship and past for far too much screen time while supporting characters Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) and Patty (Leslie Jones) are hilarious for the short snippets they are given to shine. They are joined by dumb but adorable secretary Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) to really drive home that the women are the smart ones here, but even with that being his blatantly obvious purpose he still shines for his limited time on screen. Together, this ragtag group of New Yorkers will do their best to tackle the otherworldly catastrophe that is swiftly coming for their beloved city.
The largest problem I have with Ghostbusters is how many things it would have working for it with a little better direction and more efficiently divvied screen time. Director Paul Fieg blew people away with his “women can be dirty too” statement with Bridesmaids and it is clear that he is trying to create a similar message with Ghostbusters in that “women can be snarky geniuses too.” The problem is that the genius dry humor of the original is replaced with poorly timed, heavily forced attempts at trying to capture lightning bottle a second time. The hurdle every reboot faces is honoring the original while also having to forge a new path for itself simultaneously. The latest Ghostbusters gets bogged down in both instances. Every reference to the original feels wholly out of place or wasted. Though the old team shows up in cameos they are ridiculous and would have been better left out. When the film tries to forge ahead in its own direction, it feels like it is trying too hard to rise above the petty criticism it received and not actually make a new Ghostbusters movie. There are at least three moments that I caught with the women talking about ignoring the internet comments, and none of them are very funny. The story itself is paint by the numbers in that there is a big nasty threat so the team must throw aside any and all petty differences to fight the wave of undead. And whoever in the business decided that it was a good idea to have f*cking Fall Out Boy do a cover of the Ghostbusters theme song needs to go ahead and die in a fire. And you can quote me on that.
Despite mine and countless others critiques, the film is not without merit. Some jokes do legitimately hit and had me bust a lung laughing, while the special effect and props look way more legit and do more justice than the original ever could with the tech of its time. As previously mentioned, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones bring a barrel of laughs along with Chris Hemsworth when they are allowed on screen. There is plenty to love here, just not enough time to love it. Though I can’t recommend spending theatre price on this flick, I am more than open to a sequel that thinks more about what makes Ghostbusters awesome and less about nerds behind a keyboard… (wait a second). I give the lackluster effort a 5.8 out of 10 with the hopes that it is given a second chance (which reportedly it already has so yayyy).