REVIEW: “Ghostbusters” (2016)

GHOSTPOSTER

It still surprises me to see 1984’s “Ghostbusters” venerated by so many. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a fun movie with good characters, lots of big effects, and some really funny moments. But going back to my first viewing I never considered it to be the great film that others do. Perhaps that’s why I wasn’t up in arms when I heard the announcement of a remake featuring an all-female team. It also may be why I wasn’t excited for the remake. Well, the crummy trailers didn’t help either. Sadly the trailers and the movie have a lot in common.

Now before I’m accused of mean, closed-minded misogyny remember, I’m no Ghostbusters fanboy or apologist. There are certainly those who have instantly dismissed the movie due to its female leads. But there are also those who have lashed out at any criticisms of the film regardless of their validity. The truth is the movie just isn’t that good. Not because women were cast. Not because of sexism.

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Paul Feig co-writes and directs what turns out to be run-of-the-mill popcorn movie fare. Pieces were in place for what could have been something fun and original. Instead it follows a fairly traditional summer blockbuster blueprint – (1)origin story, (2)buildup, (3)loud, unwieldy, CGI-heavy finale.

There are moments where this new Ghostbusters shows promise. The first 30 minutes or so does a pretty good job of setting up the characters and showing how they come together. To the credit of the ladies, they do their best with what they are given, some better than others. There is also a really fun performance by Chris Hemsworth. In a funny bit of satirical gender swapping, Hemsworth plays an air-headed but good looking secretary. The film has a lot of fun with that.

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As for the new Ghostbusters, Kristen Wiig is particularly good and her quirky self-effacing humor is a perfect fit for her character. Melissa McCarthy is surprisingly dialed-back and I enjoyed the calmer variation of her usual tiresome schtick. Kate McKinnon has some really funny moments but she is also letdown by the script on several occasions. Leslie Jones is dealt the worst hand from the writers. Her character is paper-thin and given some of the worst lines in the entire movie. But again, the ladies give it their all.

Here’s the thing, you can have the most committed cast, but that means nothing without a good script. Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold do a good job of developing the team’s camaraderie but not much past that. For every mildly amusing joke there are five that fall flat and some that are simply cringe-worthy. Storywise there really isn’t much to it once you get past the origin stuff. The Ghostbusters form. Everyone’s skeptical. Ghosts attack. Ghostbusters save the day. Basically everything outlined in the trailer.

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Andy Garcia shows up now and then as the New York City mayor, and there is an uninteresting villain (Neil Casey) tossed in to no effect. They offer little to the story which noticeably starts losing steam about halfway through and culminates in a long, effects-heavy ending which looks good but that’s about it.

So what to make of “Ghostbusters”? While it may have been the most unfairly maligned film of the year prior to its release, it may also end up being the most overhyped movie of the year. Some people wanted the film to fail and never gave it a chance from the start. Others want it to succeed so bad that they are impervious to the film’s obvious flaws. But that stuff aside, it really is a shame. Instead of doing something memorable with the great chemistry we see from the cast, “Ghostbusters” settles for being another in a long line of mediocre 80’s movie remakes.

VERDICT – 2 STARS

2 Stars

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39 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Ghostbusters” (2016)

  1. This could have been something special, but instead, it’s just another forgettable modern comedy that happens to carry the title “Ghostbusters”. I wanted to love it, but left feeling severely underwhelmed.

  2. I was initially not going to see the film for a number of reasons. 1. The marketing was a complete disaster in every single way. 2. The film-makers’ response to people hating the trailers was absolutely atrocious. 3. The theme song by Fallout Boy and Missy Elliot. That being said, I did go and see this one as well, and I was fairly entertained. The four leads mostly did a good job and Chris Hemsworth was funny. However, the entire movie basically portrayed men as total idiots. Every single one. The constant references to the original movie bugged the hell out of me and the cameo was were awful, especially Bill Murray’s. A lot of the jokes landed fairly well while others didn’t. But I do have to say, Kate McKinnon stole the show for me. She was so much fun to watch. The ghostbusting sequences are actually quite good, even thrilling at times. Some of the visuals were a little sketchy, but mostly okay. The villain, though, was a complete screw-job, and the ending to the film….oh, dear. With all that said, it was NOT the train wreck that many were expecting. Is it a good movie? Not really Especially not compared to the original film, of which I am a HUGE fan.

    Had the movie not been so self-aware, and cut out most of those references AND the cameos, it could’ve been good.

    • Great point about the cameos. I’m glad you mentioned it. That was something that I thought was poorly handled. They basically seemed wedged in. They also didn’t help the film develop its own identity. And we definitely agree on the villain. Absolutely horrible. Lots of wasted potential though, right?

      • I gave the movie a 7/10, so there was a great deal that I liked, and I’m curious where they go next, but this not the best way to reboot a franchise like Ghostbusters.

      • I may be wrong but it looks like the film may fall short of $50 million for its opening weekend. That could be a really big problem going forward.

  3. Yep, except you need a lot more love for the original. That first movie was very dependant on the guys to riff off the script, especially Murray. Here it just falls flat over and over. I like Wiig’s character but she does not work as the linchpin needed to make the crazy stuff hang together. Minus points for the horrible Fall Out Boy version of the theme.

    • The first movie had good characters but did indeed center itself around Murray. This one has no character that can carry this one. And amen to the crappy version of the theme song. Give me Ray Parker Jr. any day!

  4. I be glad when you start talking about good new movies again. This movie is about thirty year old and outdated. Next thing you tellin me they re made it with a bunch of women in it. I ain’t got time to watch all this remake stuff I’ll wait when that Star Trek come out next week and watch something new.

    • That’s what I was hoping for. Sadly I just didn’t come away that impressed. I did like the four ladies and their efforts but I felt the writing really let them down (some more than others).

  5. Haven’t seen Ghostbusters since I was a kid – like it then, didn’t love it. Should probably do a Ghostbusters run sometime with all of it and then see how it goes. Been really indifferent about this, to be honest.

    • Indifferent? Rightly so. It certainly hasn’t presented itself well leading up to its release. The trailers were utter garbage. It wouldn’t go as far to call the movie that, but it has a ton of problems. It sure has people talking though.

    • Star Trek this weekend. To be honest the trailers did nothing for me but the closer it has gotten the more excited I’ve become.

      As for Ghostbusters…sigh. It doesn’t absolutely nothing beyond its unique casting to set itself apart from other bland summer popcorn movies. Were you a fan of the original?

  6. I’ve never seen the original Ghostbusters but I did have a lot of fun with this one. It’s definitely a shame you didn’t like it, but you had solid reasons for that, there are too many negative reviews out there by people who haven’t even seen the movie!
    – Allie

    • And that’s a shame. Those people who criticize the film to those degrees without even seeing it have no credibility in my book. I was hesitant after the trailers but I couldn’t make any honest assessment without taking time to see it. Unfortunately it didn’t fully work for me.

  7. ‘It still surprises me to see 1984’s “Ghostbusters” venerated by so many.’ This is exactly how I feel. Enjoyed it enough at the time and it was the first time as a kid that I’d seen Murray in anything, but I’m certainly not up in arms about a remake either. I’d say that it’s one of the better Ivan Reitman films that I’ve seen – which isn’t hard considering how his career panned out afterwards – but I don’t know if it’d even get into my top 10 Murray films. Anyway…haven’t actually seen this yet, but I might go tomorrow or Wednesday. Sorry to hear it was a disappointment…I’m hoping it’ll go the other way for me but not counting on it by any means!

    • Oh man, for all of the hype (both senseless bashing and lofty exaltation) this thing is nothing more than your standard mediocre popcorn movie. Don’t get me wrong, I like some popcorn flicks. But for all of the hype saying this film was going to be a fresh and original experience, it literally checks so many boxes. Hopefully you will come away with more. I certainly wish I did.

      • I’ve seen such a range of reviews I don’t quite know what will happen! There’s nothing else out here this week in the multiplexes so it’s either Ghostbusters or Now You See Me 2 for me.

      • Oh gosh…what a crappy choice. Ha!

        The reviews and chatter surrounding Ghostbusters is mind-boggling. Such a crazy range of reactions. I don’t know which surprises me most, the rabid hatred for the thing before it even came out or the immense love for a film that I feel would normally get treated pretty rough critically.

      • It was weird to see those extreme views a few months ago. The internet is a horrible place sometimes. I guess some people do genuinely like the film and find it funny, but I keep reading the line that people are pushing back against the misogyny and overpraising it. Still…it’ll all be forgotten about by the end of July.

      • Absolutely. It will be forgotten, and I haven’t seen firm numbers but it doesn’t sound like it did huge numbers at the box office.

  8. I caught bit and pieces of the original Ghostbusters on TV, but it wasn’t until the 30th anniversary did I watch the entire film in theaters. Really liked Bill Murray in it. The reboot never got me excited unfortunately and I don’t plan on seeing it soon.

    • It truly is a showcase for Bill Murray. He was really good. Unfortunately there isn’t much that could be called “really good” in the remake. Pretty generic, often unfunny, and not at all memorable. You won’t miss out by skipping this one.

  9. I’m not quite sure why they made a remake of this film instead of a reboot. I had no qualms with the female cast, but I thought the movie looked like shit after the first trailer, and I made my judgments from there. Nice review tho!

    • The trailers were just awful. They certainly didn’t help promote the movie in a positive light. And the movie doesn’t help itself. Starts promising but it doesn’t end that way.

  10. Hi Keith! Having just seen the original, I’m even more baffled by the super negative reaction to this. Ah well, I don’t even want to give those haters my energy. Well, I did like this more than you did, mostly thanks to the terrific cast. I’m glad you still enjoyed it for the most part, but yeah I wish the script were better.

    • The ladies do their best. The script just runs out of steam at the midway point. And as you said in your review, what a terribly uninteresting villain.

  11. Didn’t read this back when you posted it because I knew I would be seeing it soon. Finally got around to it, so here I am. I enjoyed it, thought it was pretty good. However, it is also extremely flawed. Like you said, the pieces are all there for a great movie, they just aren’t utilized correctly. Your take on McCarthy is interesting. She is dialed back. I found her too dialed back. I was hoping she would give me some of her bombastic shtick. And yes, Hemsworth was the best part of the movie.

    • I think my take on McCarthy comes from my deep dislike for her shtick. It seems like she basically does the same thing in every film. That’s why I liked what she brought to this role. But I can see where her fans may be a bit disappointed.

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