BY TIM ESTILOZ
It’s a foregone inevitable conclusion that the new Ghostbusters film is going to be compared and measured against the classic 1984 original; but this new reboot manages to offer up its own unique twists that make it an overall fun summer diversion despite some pretty annoying flaws as well.
Forget all the online negative publicity conjured up by Internet nerds and trolls angered by the new version’s all-female cast. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones do just fine as the new Ghostbusters; thankfully not trying to mimic the unique chemistry nor characterizations of their male counterparts from the original film.
Instead, the ladies bring, with mixed results, their own spin to their characters. For better or worse, this film isn’t just cast with women to appeal to some modern politically correct sensibility. They’re simply funny in their own right.
McCarthy and Wiig play former friends and colleagues once enamored with the paranormal before parting ways professionally. Physics professor Erin ( Wiig ) is trying to get tenure at a university; while her estranged science whiz buddy Abby ( McCarthy ) is still focused on proving, with the assistance of her quirky associate, engineering genius Holtzmann ( McKinnon ) that ghosts are real.
An unexpected haunting at a local museum bring the three together; and they are soon joined by subway worker and NYC history buff Patty ( Jones ). The newly formed quartet begin investigating a series of supernatural craziness sparked by a villainous nerd bent on unleashing an army of ghosts on the Big Apple that he plans to rule.
The main problem with this film is director Paul Feig’s anemic and uneven script that puts too much emphasis on trying to be a full on comedy; rather than injecting an effective mix of humor and scariness that made the original Ghostbusters so memorable. Sure, the gals bring the funny in many scenes; but you get the sense that there’s no real danger in their encounters with the supernatural.
Of the four leads, Kate McKinnon is the film’s breakout star. Her quirky Holtzmann brings an inspired bit of funny, seemingly improvised, insanity to the film that makes her a delight to watch. McCarthy and Wiig have uneven moments together that occasionally work; but overall, there’s nothing to really give depth to their characters or on-screen friendship. Jones is often funny but her brassy, loud character is frequently too similar to her SNL comedic characters. Jones has talent but needs to spread her wings beyond a persona that’s becoming one note.
Feig tosses in plenty of references for those faithful to the original film; however the cameos by Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Ernie Hudson and more offer little substance save to give these actors an easy paycheck for showing up briefly to give the reboot an attempted bit of nostalgic credibility. Though, one original actor’s cameo does deliver the goods; but, you have to wait for the closing credits to enjoy it.
And yes, rest easy. The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and Slimer make an appearance.
This new Ghostbusters is full of built-in branding, product placement and familiarity meant to make a quick buck off of those hoping to recapture the nostalgia of the original. As a quick guilty pleasure, it’ll do.
But unlike the original, it’s easily forgettable.