The original 1984 “Ghostbusters” has become a comedy classic, thanks to its quirky plot — featuring four somewhat bumbling paranormal investigators who try to stop a ghostly apocalypse in New York City — and the ad-libbing talents of stars like Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. It wasn’t a film that was really screaming for a remake, so fans were naturally a little skeptical when a reboot was announced. Unfortunately, the backlash from some quarters turned rather nasty, with some of the anger directed at the new all-female cast. The trailer even became the most disliked film trailer on YouTube.
However, now that the movie is out, what’s the actual verdict? While it’s still fair to say “Ghostbusters” didn’t really need a remake and the new film won’t replace the original, the reboot is very fun and entertaining. I loved the chemistry between the members of the new team, and there are some great cameos of characters from the original film (including a certain Stay Puft Marshmallow Man).
I’d definitely classify the new “Ghostbusters” as more of a re-imagining than a remake; it pays homage to the original film but isn’t a direct copy of the plot. Kristen Wiig plays a straight-laced Columbia University professor named Erin Gilbert who has tried to distance herself from her paranormal investigating past and her former friend and ghost hunting partner Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). When Erin is caught on video after actually witnessing a ghost at a haunted mansion, she gets fired from her university job. Erin decides to embrace her past and teams up with Abby, wacky engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), and experienced New Yorker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) to start a paranormal investigation business called the Ghostbusters. After the Ghostbusters uncover a plot to unleash an apocalyptic supernatural horde on New York City, they risk their lives to save their city, proving once and for all that these girls “ain’t afraid of no ghosts.”
The film does have a few weaknesses, one of which is a villain who isn’t fully utilized and isn’t as memorable a plot device as the demons that possess Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis in the original film. It also feels like overall, director Paul Feig tries to play things just a little too safe, and I believe he could have ventured a little further from the plot of the original film and still pulled it off.
However, the movie is still very much worth watching for fans of the original and for those who are encountering the franchise for the first time. The film is at its best when it allows its stars — most of whom are SNL alums — to just cut loose and do what they do best: being funny. The leads all bring something unique to the team, and Chris Hemsworth is also hilarious as their dimwitted receptionist Kevin. This is a different sort of role for Hemsworth, and he proves to be a good sport as he parodies his own beefcake persona.
I also enjoyed the special effects; even though the ghosts looked a little cartoony, I thought this fit well with the spirit of the film and also hearkens back to the original. This isn’t meant to be a scary film — it’s meant to be fun.
In short, don’t let the bad buzz scare you off — the new “Ghostbusters” is very entertaining and manages to tell its own story while also paying tribute to the original.