A Ghostbusters remake by Paul Feig with women in roles once populated by men exists; there are lots of nasty, misogynistic and/or racist pricks on the internet; and, in 2016, these streams crossed. It has been quite sobering to see all of this play out – just look at the disgusting abuse meted out to one of the film’s stars this week on Twitter – and indeed quite disheartening to see so many grown men whimpering about their childhoods being ‘destroyed’ (before directing their ire towards those involved with this 2016 production). It’s a shame, too, that Ghostbusters simply isn’t the ‘fuck you’ response that the more extreme online trolls deserve, and is merely the latest in this year’s ever-growing list of average or poor summer blockbusters. Yet thankfully there are a couple of saving graces: most notably Kate McKinnon, who manages to rise above the otherwise pedestrian script with an idiosyncratic, offbeat performance as Ghostbuster Holtzmann, while Chris Hemsworth’s turn as a dumb, beefcake receptionist is funny, even though his character’s stupidity is eventually overplayed.
One gets the impression that Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold were never quite confident enough to let their movie stand on its own two feet, as there’s far too much in the way of homage to the original 1984 film here, often obstructing the flow of this new story; it’s little more than time wasted when other material has evidently been cut out, though obviously one can only speculate as to the quality of any footage that has been removed, and indeed whether or not its inclusion would have plugged a few of the evident narrative spasms. There are moments where the 2016 incarnation of Ghostbusters skillfully rejects the old in favour of the new (a nice joke about them not being able to afford the rent on the fire station that served the original foursome so well, for example), yet the way Feig has shoehorned familiar old ghosts such as Slimer and Mr. Stay-Puft into the mix smacks of desperation, especially as it shows up the lack of imagination in terms of the design of the new CGI ghosts, not one of which is remotely memorable. (Though, y’know, maybe kids like them; this is a film for kids, after all.) Additionally, the screenplay makes an unnecessary fuss over the name ‘Ghostbusters’ and its accompanying symbol – I presume this is intended to make your spine tingle – and although I thought the tribute to the late Harold Ramis worked well, some of the cameos by stars of the earlier film offer little in the way of chuckles. I hadn’t seen Leslie Jones or McKinnon in anything before this, and I like them both, but Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy have been far better, and Feig has made funnier films.
Directed by: Paul Feig.
Written by: Paul Feig, Katie Dippold.
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Michael Kenneth Williams, Charles Dance, Andy García, Neil Casey.
Cinematography: Robert Yeoman.
Editing: Melissa Bretherton, Brent White.
Music: Theodore Shapiro.
Running Time: 116.