“Ghostbusters” (2016)

This movie is fine. Calm the fuck down.

Listen, I understand: the original, “Ghostbusters” is a classic. The right cast, the right circumstances (despite a protracted development time), and the right crew to bring it to life. Making a remake of something that affected an entire generation (and then some) and became a cultural landmark was going to be an uphill battle no matter what, similar to what occurred when people tried to remake, “Robocop” into a grim, PG-13-rated action movie (Christ, remember that shitshow?). Thankfully, the 2016, “Ghostbusters” remake actually has a lot of good on its own terms…when it’s not just making callbacks to the original. It’s a breezy experience, and at times has truly inspired moments thanks to a strong cast, despite faltering by the end. At it’s best, the movie is like witnessing a great improv team that just so happened to stumble upon a box full of Ghostbusters cosplay props…up until the moment where the people lean a little too hard onto the mere existence of the props, leading to a third act that suffers for not being as witty or character-based. But man, does this movie have character!

But right up front: yes, Paul Feig, working with Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth, has spun quite a bit of gold there. The movie is at its best when the movie just has us chilling with these characters, whether they’re arguing, fighting ghosts or even just dancing. The movie shows that actors are important, and it’s especially great to see some bits of actual character development from Leslie Jones’ character, who actually feels like she belongs with the team. And yes, Kate McKinnon is as funny and energetic as you heard. Chris Hemsworth has a neat bit part as a dunderheaded clerk that runs just a tad too long, but complements the rest of the gang. But central attention is given to Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, who play off a misunderstanding/separation in ways that inform the entire movie without having to resort to dry exposition. There’s a real sense of bonding between them, despite their earlier disagreements, with an interesting angle that suggests that while the two may have gone their separate ways, neither one has necessarily stopped believing.

There is also some interesting stuff regarding how this version of the Ghostbusters meet up, to the point where it diverges from the source material in smart ways. Rather than just repeat the original story bit by bit or do cringe-inducing trendy things like swipes at startup culture, the movie has the characters be misfits whose lives aren’t going the way they want them too, with the government presented this time not as an adversary but rather as…well, people just doing their job. Yeah, they may impede progress like Dickless did in the original movie, but rather than having them be portrayed as doing it out of spite, this movie has the adversaries do it because of practical, pragmatic reasons, leading to an interesting conspiracy theory-style bent that colors the movie’s middle, something I bet original, “Ghostbusters” cast member Dan Aykroyd would appreciate.

Unfortunately, when the fireworks show goes off in the third act, the movie falters. The concept of the cataclysm, a reversion of New York to colonial times which unleashes monsters and ghost, is a neat premise that will pretty much be missed the moment one blinks. Plus while there is an interesting bad guy played by Rowan North whose motivation is, “The world hurt me so I need to hurt it back because no one appreciates my genius and so I will make them all bend to my will” (gee, I wonder if this movie is trying to say something), with some interesting parallels to the main Ghostbusters crew , it doesn’t do much to flesh the guy out beyond that or give them anything interesting to do other than, “I want to destroy New York because Nerd Rage”. There is all of this build up, a lot of CGI fireworks, and then it’s over. Which is a shame because the movie shows glimpses of a larger world that distinguishes this movie enough to not feel like just a retread with a few easter eggs thrown in. After all, the original movie (and even the animated TV shows that came after it) does a great job of building upon all of the strange, occult stuff and then reveling deeper layers within it, but the ending gives off the impression that either there was some footage cut out of the theatrical release, or that the moviemakers just ran out of time.

Still, the movie is quite enjoyable. It has great people, with some good direction, and there are enough cool bits to make me anticipate a sequel to this version of the, “Ghostbusters” crew…provided they actually go balls out with the worldbuilding and/or fire their marketing team. Though given the current discourse by some…very persistent people that centers on this reboot’s female cast and its, “Misandry”, the marketing for this was probably fucked from the word go. But don’t listen to the haters, just give this a chance and you will like it for the characters, at least.


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