“Ghostbusters” (2016) is really not all that bad, internet dudes.
The new Ghostbusters reboot, written and directed by Paul Feig, has become something of an object of controversy for morons on the internet. Once they hit the web, the first trailers were quickly denounced as cinematic war crimes. YouTube-based critic James Rolfe released a six and a half minute video outlining why he was refusing to review it (as if critics never review movies they think will be bad), which two million people watched for some reason. Why all the controversy over this reboot as opposed to the fifty other reboots and relaunches released every year? As much as the knuckle-draggers of Twitter would like to deny it, the difference is that Feig’s film swaps out the original cast of four male ghostbusters with four women.
And that’s it. That’s really it. Going in, I was half expecting a scene in which every male character in the film was lined up against a wall and castrated one by one, just so there would be some justification for the insane, overblown tantrum thrown by the internet man-babies, but alas. No such luck. The 2016 Ghostbusters is more or less a retelling of the original 1984 film, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all. In fact, this may be one of the less laborious reboots of a revered Hollywood property in recent memory. Apart from its concept and some basic story beats, there’s very little tethering this film to its predecessor, and it never feels like it’s trying to replace the original or beat it at its own game.
Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is up for tenure at her university when an embarrassing artifact from her past re-emerges: a book on the paranormal she co-wrote long ago with Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). When she goes to confront Abby and salvage her reputation, the two find evidence that ghosts are real after all. With the help of nuclear mad scientist Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and subway worker Patty (Leslie Jones), the two form an organization dedicated to studying and capturing the ghosts that threaten to overrun New York City.
As a comedy, Ghostbusters is by and large a success. One of the film’s smartest decisions is not forcing its main actresses to conform to the character dynamics of the original, instead allowing them to play to their own comedic strengths. McKinnon is obviously having a great time playing Holtzmann’s batty brilliance (her performance is one of the movie’s highlights), and Leslie Jones as Patty provides just the right degree of bewilderment in the face of the paranormal weirdness she encounters. Melissa McCarthy is funny as ever as the longtime true believer in the existence of ghosts, and Kristen Wiig serves as the gang’s solid if slightly neurotic core. While the film’s script might not be as groundbreaking and witty as that of the 1984 film, there are still plenty of laughs to be found.
However, there is at least one area in which the reboot has an edge over the original. Though admittedly it’s been some time since I’ve seen the 1984 Ghostbusters, it’s always seemed to me that Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman considers himself a bit too cool for the nerdier ghostbusters, as played by Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis. The four men of the original cast have good comedic chemistry, but the friendship between the ladies of the 2016 film feels stronger and more genuine. In a film that’s so often about recognizing the value what you do even if the rest of the world can’t see it (a surprisingly apropos theme, given the controversy), I can tell that these new ghostbusters would stick together and support each other through just about anything.
Say what you will about reboots, but this one at the very least doesn’t have the disappointing whiff of an uninspired, assembly-line cash cow. Ghostbusters has a lot going for it, even for die-hard fans of the original. The new leads are funny in their own right, and are bolstered by some excellent supporting players (namely a surprising Chris Hemsworth as the ghostbusters’ sweet but rock-stupid receptionist and Cecily Strong as the vaguely conniving mayor’s assistant) and a handful of fun cameos. It may not be one of the most memorable or unique comedies out there, but it’s not liable to ruin anyone’s childhood. (If it’s ruined yours, the problem might not be with the movie. Just saying.) It’s light and enjoyable, something you can eat popcorn and giggle along with as ghouls and specters scamper across the screen. For those willing to put nostalgia off to the side for a bit, it’s well worth a viewing.
Final Score: 6.5/10