I’m going to get right to the point here. New Ghostbusters isn’t perfect, but it’s still more entertaining than half of the cinematic garbage that’s come out this summer. If you’re not sold on it, fine. This review isn’t for you. If, however, you are interested in seeing the reboot of the 1984 beloved comedy, let’s review!
I’ll admit that the trailer for Ghostbusters didn’t do a great job selling the film. And if that’s the reason you didn’t want to see this movie, I get it. Although, I think it’s important to note that Paul Feig movies have a trailer problem—as in the trailers are so good at keeping the best jokes hidden that it makes the movie seem unfunny. Perfect example: Spy, which also starred Melissa McCarthy and was directed by Feig, had a “meh” trailer, and it turned out to be pretty damn good. All I’m saying is take Feig movie trailers with a grain of salt.
So Ghostbusters stars comedians Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones as its new ghostbusting team. This movie is a straight-up reboot with fresh characters and a new plot that functions outside of the original story’s universe (meaning there’s no “Well, back in the day, these guys did it” tie-in point). The only thing it has in common with the 1984 film is the title, the NYC setting, and several fan-service Easter eggs and cameos.
The story follows Dr. Erin Gilbert (Wiig) who’s fired from Columbia University after a book she wrote about ghosts with estranged colleague Dr. Abby Yates (McCarthy) is discovered. Gilbert gets talked into investigating paranormal activity at a famous mansion with Yates and eccentric nuclear engineer Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon), where they capture footage of a ghost. They then start their own ghostbusting business and hire hot bimbo Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) as their secretary. Shortly after starting their business, they meet metro worker and history buff Patty Tolan (Jones), who reports activity in the subway system. Patty joins the team, and they all seek out the cause of the rise of paranormal activity throughout the city, despite objections from the NYC Mayor (Andy Garcia).
The plot isn’t great in terms of pacing. The first act drags while setting up the stories of the characters, and it causes the rest of the movie to feel unevenly paced. And, unfortunately, the callbacks to the original film kept stopping what little momentum the plot got rolling. I’m not saying ditch the original references entirely (though I am curious if this movie would’ve been better without them). I loved Annie Potts showing up to say “Whaddaya want?” But the moment a callback takes you out of the story, it’s not worth it. Like Dan Aykroyd’s “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts” joke, which was so painfully delivered that you wonder why he didn’t just show up in a Blues Brothers costume to get the double ’80s nostalgia whammy.
What saves the Ghostbusters reboot from being mediocre, however, is that it steers right into meta territory. That is, it pokes fun at its critics throughout the movie. Villain Rowan North (Neil Casey), who unleashes the ghosts into NYC, is basically the voice of the deepest, darkest, vilest pits of the internet with all of his musings about bullying being the solution to being bullied, how the world needs to be cleansed, and how he’s the only “genius” to see things. There’s also the “Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts” YouTube comment that Yates finds when she goes to check their ghost video (That joke was added after the initial reaction to the trailer, by the way).
But let’s be honest—the reason to see Ghostbusters is McKinnon, who is a goddamn delight as the wacky Holtzmann (Jones and Hemsworth are tied in second place). If you’ve watched Saturday Night Live within the last few years, you should know this. It’s impossible to ignore her when she’s onscreen because even her facial expressions are scene-stealers. She’s on a Jeff Goldblum level of comedy and sex appeal (hence her inclusion on my Bone List).
Basically, it’s not the best movie it could’ve been, but it was a fun ride, which is all we can really ask for this summer since everything has been consistently bad. Part of me is legitimately disappointed because I know Feig is a solid director/writer, and he had the talent of four amazing comedians to draw from. But the other part of me says “Nah, it’s fine” because it’s making some little girl’s day right now while simultaneously ruining some misogynist’s childhood.
Listen to my review of Ghostbusters on “Pat & JT in the Morning” here (at 46:27).