“Ghostbusters”

LOUISA:  4 STARS  MATT:  3 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

There’s an arbitrary sense of nostalgia that unfairly permeates audience perceptions of the new female-centric “Ghostbusters” reboot. I love the original 1984 film too; I wore out my VHS cassette when I was a kid and I’ve probably seen the movie dozens of times, including special theatrical re-releases and anniversary screenings. It’s almost as if all of this animosity is seen as a badge of honor for ‘serious movie fans.’

All of this badmouthing is truly unwarranted, especially if you actually go back and rewatch the original. Sure, the movie has comedy legend Bill Murray, the hilarious Rick Moranis, and memorable performances from Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver and Dan Aykroyd. It introduced us to the characters we all still love decades later, and made lines like “tell him about the Twinkie” a permanent part of movie nerd vocabulary. But to all the haters I say this: you are being very, very unfair. The 1980s era film has a lot of boring sequences and lags quite a bit, and as is the case with many movies, sometimes our nostalgia creates pretty thick rose colored glasses. We tend to only remember the good in our childhood favorites.

Put aside your bias: the new “Ghostbusters” honors the legacy of the original, is a fun retelling of the classic story, and it does not disappoint. THIS MOVIE IS FUNNY! THIS MOVIE IS ACTUALLY GOOD!

There are a couple of minor hiccups along the way (as with most comedies, not every joke sticks, and the ghastly Missy Elliott / Fall Out Boy remake of the already awful Ray Parker Jr. song “Ghostbusters” makes an unwelcome appearance), but overall the movie is a success. At first it may feel weird to see women Ghostbusters but any skepticism will quickly fade (there’s a new generation of young girls who will undoubtedly be inspired by these characters).

When estranged childhood friends and paranormal enthusiasts Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Abby (Melissa McCarthy) reunite, sparks are rekindled and they decide to get back to their ghost chasing roots. The smartypants duo is joined by weirdo nuclear engineer Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and subway worker Patty (Leslie Jones). When Manhattan starts to experience boatloads of specter activity, the friends get started on some good old fashioned poltergeist hunting.

A big part of why this movie works is the comedic talent of these women; their chemistry is evident and they play well off each other, and the positive themes of loyalty and friendship never once feel fake. All of the actors are proficient at physical comedy and all have impeccable timing. This movie is very funny and the jokes had (and kept) me laughing from the beginning (there’s a particularly hilarious sequence at a heavy metal concert that’s worth the price of admission).

Rounding out the amusing performances is Chris Hemsworth as Kevin, a completely clueless stud muffin who is hired as the women’s receptionist solely based on his beefcake good looks. This feminist spin on the dumb secretary stereotype is exactly the type of lampoon I was hoping for here. In fact, the film doesn’t shy away from all of the lady haters either: there are lots of self-referential bits that directly address all of the critics (my favorite being Holtzmann’s ‘One of the Boys‘ t-shirt). Girl power!

Fans of the original will also appreciate several in-jokes and references, and there’s a long line of fun cameos (which I won’t spoil here: just keep your eyes open and be sure to stay through the end credits)! The special effects have been given a serious upgrade as well: these ghosts look real, feel real, and are appropriately scary-yet-funny. When the ladies first fired up their proton packs, I began cheering internally.

“Ghostbusters” is exactly what a summer movie is supposed to be. It’s big in scope, it’s full of hearty laughs, it’s filled with terrific performances from all of the leads, it’s stuffed with stunning special effects, and it’s something the entire family can enjoy. All of you naysayers really need to lighten up because this is a really, really fun movie.

MATT SAYS:

Much ado has been made about the “female Ghostbusters.” Frankly, I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal what gender the busters of ghosts are. It’s a good and fun concept that has stood the test of time. As long as they don’t completely F it up (like the terrible “Poltergeist” remake last year), then why not reboot and update it?

And this reboot doesn’t F it up. It may not be as good as the original, but it’s certainly not trampling all over the goodwill created by the franchise (unlike the abysmal “Independence Day: Resurgence“).

These new Ghostbusters – SNL alums all, except for Melissa McCarthy – all do a good job with the material. They are clearly having fun and all do what they do well: Erin (Kristen Wiig) is the low-key one that wants to be taken seriously as a scientist; Abby (Melissa McCarthy) is the gregarious and outgoing one who wants to make a name for herself in the paranormal world; Patty (Leslie Jones) is the no-nonsense, practical one; and Jillian (Kate McKinnon) is the weird techno-geeky one who loves to create new gadgets. Together, they play off of one another well and create some solid personality-driven laughs. The star of the show, however, is neither Wiig nor McCarthy; it’s McKinnon, who is clearly having tons of fun with the role, creating a character that is neither Spengler nor Stantz, but something completely new.

Special effects have come a long way in the last 30 years, and those technical advancements show. The creeps are more creepy, and the ghosts generally more fun to look at. The EFX department clearly had a ball creating some new, different, and slightly (but not too) scary new ghouls that are an upgrade from the original.

The story is decent. It starts out with some really inventive bits that are laugh-out-loud funny (including a great sequence at a death metal concert). It maintains this momentum until a little after the midway point, when the Ghostbusters are confronted by the Mayor’s office. As it builds to its climax, it continues to deflate as the personalities and interactions between the characters take a backseat to a special effects extravaganza. Yes, impressive visuals are in abundance during the final sequence (with more amazing ghosts to look at), but the story just kind of peters out. The scope of the story gets too big and the emotional weight that we had in the original movie (where Venkman is fighting to save Dana as well as the city) is completely lost. In other words, they fall into the Transformers / Avengers / Superman trap where big battles to save the world lack the resonance of a smaller, more personal story.

There are plenty of Easter eggs and nods to the first movie for fans, and they are all as enjoyable as they should be. If you like the movie, it’s worth sticking around for the post-credit sequence.

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