BY NATHAN EVANS
Let me preface this review by admitting that I’ve never been a fan of the original ‘Ghostbusters’. It’s not that I don’t like the film, it’s just that I’m not familiar with it. It’s been well over two decades since I’ve seen it, so all I can go by to judge it is a general case of apathy. Going into the 2016 all female reboot, I had no expectations for it in either direction, save for a mild apprehension due to the horrendous first trailer that heralded the arrival of the film and some not-so-mild annoyance at the droves of internet haters that prejudged the movie for obvious sexist reasons.
With that out of the way, I’m happy to say that Paul Feig’s 2016 reboot is a fantastic horror/sci-fi/ comedy that surpasses all expectations and serves as a needed oasis in the drought that has been the summer blockbuster season.
The film follows Kristen Wiig’s Erin Gilbert, a struggling scientist and college professor. On the cusp of tenure, Gilbert is blindsided by a man seeking her help to deal with a ghost he’s convinced is haunting the history memorial he oversees. He’s turned to her because of a book on the paranormal she wrote with fellow scientist and childhood friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). Mortified that her credibility might be undermined by the resurgence of her past work, Gilbert confronts Yates in an effort to squash the book. One thing leads to another and it’s not long before Gilbert finds herself face to face with proof of the paranormal alongside Yates and her partner in crime, eccentric nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzman played by Saturday Night Live standout Kate McKinnon. In their efforts to find further proof to legitimize their claims of the paranormal, the trio come across MTA agent Patty Tolan who has had her own brush with the other side after following a mysterious weirdo into the depths of the New York City subway system.
As it turns out, said mysterious weirdo is a closet occultist bent on ripping open a portal to the realm of the dead so he can lead their hordes in tearing apart the city, thus getting revenge on a world that has shunned him. With no one else to turn to, the female quartet form paranormal hunting team ‘The Ghostbusters’ to stop him.
If you’ve paid any attention to the current state of blockbuster comedy, you don’t need me to tell you that the cast that makes up this film is absolutely fantastic. Melissa McCarthy’s comedic genius alongside three SNL alums is a match made in heaven. Kate McKinnon in particular steals the show: she is a veritable charm factory; her offbeat delivery is hilariously cool and, in my mind, forms an unforgettable character that can serve as a role model for young girls everywhere. Leslie Jones is strong here (for the first time in my opinion) playing a nuanced and intelligent salt of the earth type, and yet another SNL cast member, Cecily Strong, does the most she can with limited time, earning some of the biggest belly laughs of the film. In particular, her joke referencing the female phenomenon ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ left me in tears.
Helping the film along, for the most part, are a handful of cameos from the cast of the original film. They all pop up in cool and unexpected ways, with Bill Murray being the only exception. The film feels tight in every aspect but for his cameo which feels extraneous and, the culmination of which, serves as one of the film’s few missteps.
The visual effects at play here are cutting edge. For the first time since ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ the price of a 3D IMAX ticket felt worth it. Unlike most films that simply go through a hasty 3D conversion, this film feels as if it were made to utilize the 3D gimmick, with numerous jump scares and visuals popping out at the audience.
Most admirably, the film is packaged in a glorious meta wrapper. Making the villain of the film a pasty faced fanboy type who most likely spends his evenings commenting on internet message boards was a stroke of genius. Throughout the film there are numerous references to the controversy (i.e. men upset that women might headline a blockbuster film) surrounding the film and they all hit the mark. Feig is aware of your expectations and he’s not above remarking about how wrong you are because he’s got the cred to back it up.
Along with Murray’s cameo, the only other lackluster aspect is Chris Hemsworth’s dimwitted male secretary, Kevin. I’m not quite sure where they were going with the character; I’m not certain if I was supposed to find him humorous or creepy. Either way, at least for the first viewing, he didn’t work for me, but considering the excellence of the film (and the clarity that comes with multiple viewings), I’m willing to admit that I’m probably wrong about him.
If you’re looking for a good time at the movies, you can’t go wrong with the ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot. That is, unless you’ve already made up your mind. In which case there’s nothing I can do for you except urge you to move out of your mom’s house and gain some life experience.
RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5