This reboot of a beloved 80s classic is neither a comedy masterpiece nor a proof that Jesus died in vain, as some people’s reactions would have you think. After seeing it, it’s actually pretty bizarre that so much controversy happened over something that’s just a fairly average, perfectly corporate piece of entertainment that deserves neither big praise nor vitriol. I guess it has the pressure of succeeding as a female-led comedy blockbuster, which apparently every female-led big movie has to prove over and over no matter the past successes, which is irritating as heck but I digress.
I haven’t seen the original Ghostbusters until relatively late, and most of my Ghostbusters-related memories are associated with The Real Ghostbusters, the animated spin-off series which my siblings and I got to enjoy on our TV screen after the fall of the Iron Curtain. So, not feeling particularly protective of my childhood memories or what have you, I walked into the new movie with a pretty clean slate, simply looking for a good time at the cinema. Did the movie fulfil my humble dream? Well I was never bored but neither was I particularly thrilled or my funny bone tickled – the biggest laugh the movie earned from me was a neat visual gag near the end involving a bunch of soldiers.
Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones star as the new ghost-hunting bunch, with mixed results. McCarthy and Wiig are instantly believable as the long-term besties Abby and Erin, with the genuine rapport and chemistry between the two that’s palpable. However, some of their prolonged comical riffing feels really self-indulgent and should have been edited out, and I felt that both actresses have done much funnier work in other movies (even Wiig’s more dramatic turn in The Martian was funnier, to me). Also, we’re let to understand that the two friends have been estranged for some time, but I don’t remember the movie actually explaining the reason why, and then the whole estrangement thing is quickly dropped until a rather arbitrary reference near the end. Sorry but that doesn’t make for an actual arc. Kate McKinnon, whose character for whatever reason is referred to by her surname, Holtzmann, plays a quirky wacky scientist who feels like she belongs in a different movie altogether. I understand that her character is meant to be someone who is off on her own planet most of the time, but she never felt like she really gelled with the rest of the team, and her particular brand of comedy felt irritating and energising in equal measure. I’ll be honest, Leslie Jones’ shouty scenes in the trailer made me cringe at the time, but her performance in the film actually turned out to be my favourite and her Patty was warm and down-to-earth.
Of the supporting cast, Chris Hemsworth shows once again that comedy and charm are his main strengths as an actor, in a hilarious turn as the world’s prettiest and dumbest secretary who the ladies grow fond of despite his woeful lack of qualifications. The original ghostbusters (bar Harold Ramis – rest in peace) pop up in brief cameos; most are fine but Bill Murray really should have been left on the cutting room floor. He looked terminally bored in his appearance as the sceptical scientist who comes to tut-tut at the gang, for no purpose whatsoever other than to include a Bill Murray cameo.
The story, such as there is, involves preventing a diabolical plan of a disgruntled nerd, a character who seems to be a conscious dig at the part of the audience most opposed to a Ghosbusters reboot. It builds up to a big finale that goes all Marvel, with tons of special effects and action scenes which unfortunately aren’t all that exciting to watch. Overall, the movie is not without its good points, but too patchy and low on genuine inventiveness to be truly memorable.