Grrl power, laughs and effects combine to make the no-holds-barred “spooktacular” 2016 reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise.
Since the tepid 1989 sequel to the 1984 megahit, there has been talk of a new Ghostbusters flick. The potent kick of irreverent humor and the supernatural is something most movie fans just want more of. Yet, with the unexpected early passing of co-creator Harold Ramis and (the expected normal passing of) 27 years, getting the original cast and formula back together was not going to happen.
Enter Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. Resetting to the beginning, McCarthy and Wiig are ex-BFFs who are also professors studying the physics of the paranormal. McKinnon is McCarthy’s ghostbusting tech mastermind. When a powerful ghost sighting brings them all together to start their own business, the movie is off and running. Jones soon joins them as a subway worker who has another ghost sighting and resources that make the team complete.
Unlike the original films, where supernatural events took on a life of their own formation, this time a weaselly little man named Rowan North (Neil Casey) is hell-bent on bringing back the dead for the apocalypse. Aside from wanting to settle petty scores from being bullied as a youth, he seems to lack much motivation for creating an incredible array of devices to bring back ghosts.
There are a lot of things going for this film, but the plot is probably its weakest link. Nowhere near as tight as the original film, the plot here loosely strings together the movie to get the stars from gag to gag, hustling the story on down the road.
Clearly a vehicle for the immensely talented McCarthy and Wiig, it is Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones who seem to carry more than their share of the film. McKinnon’s fanboy-friendly, bad-ass antics and Jones’ energy and common sense reactions to the paranormal chew up the scenery. Director Paul Feig almost seems to be underplaying McCarthy and Wiig. Yet, it works because all four actresses are great comediennes who buoy one another while Feig keeps the tempo of the film moving quickly.
Chris Hemsworth is brought in to play a stereotypical ditzy secretary and eye candy. He is both hilariously dumb and dreamy.
And then, for fans of the original films, there are the cameos. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Sigourney Weaver, and Slimer, along with several others are brought in for roles that have nothing to do with their original roles…but are usually pretty funny. Aykroyd’s “New York Cabbie” is my favorite.
Denying the incredible advances in special effects since 1984 is impossible. The ghost armies and Armageddon sequences could never have been made in the 1980s. However, nothing in this film seems as viscerally real as the librarian ghost floating among the basement stacks at the New York Public Library in Ghostbusters from 1984. Perhaps, it helps that I was only eight when I saw that in the theater. By being less dimensional and softer focused, she looked more like a ghost I would expect to see in real life. The amazingly detailed and dimensional ghosts of the new film, especially because of their dark-electric-blue backgrounds look more like creations from the hottest new video games at a Dave & Buster’s arcade. For ghosts, I like a less-is-more approach with lots of mystery. Haunting a mannequin was definitely fright worthy, and it is always good to see Slimer. It wouldn’t be Ghostbusters without him. My favorite paranormal touch was the shades of millions of sewer rats — as it just isn’t New York without sewer rats, living or dead.
Stick around until the film’s post-credits final scene, and the stage is set for a sequel. If they add in a little more plot with character development, it could well be the rare sequel that outshines its predecessor. Still, the 2016 Ghostbusters is a good flick that is great for a laugh — particularly on high-definition Blu-ray.
Nathaniel Cerf once lived in a haunted house in Sioux Falls, SD. He was always upset that the ghost never fried eggs on his counter or turned him into a “dog.” You can reach him at Nathaniel.Cerf@aent.com.