Ghostbusters (2016) – A Review

“Books Can’t Fly” – Erin Gilbert

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But actually Erin, yes they can.

At least in 1984 they did.

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This 2016 Ghostbusters is built on the bones of the Original Classic, the same way Force Awakens is built on what preceded it.   It feels familiar, all the pieces are seemingly there, the formula (comedic actors in a supernatural laced story about a spectral phenomenon that leads to an impending doom to be defeated by our four blue collar leads) is virtually the same.  However the magic that made the original so special to a generation seems to be lost in this update.  You can have all the ingredients for a great stew, but if you don’t use the right proportions and cook with care, then you risk spoiling the pot.

But tastes vary, and that’s where this movie may split the audience.  First and foremost, this whole One Hour and Fifty Six minute endeavor relies heavily on the audience to accept that there is a good dose of Fridge Logic at play (See Definition Here).  Rules established (not only in this film but in decades old Ghostbusters lore),  are disregarded by the 3rd act.  I can then understand if purists are up in arms when Proton Packs end up annihilating ghosts instead of merely acting as a lasso, rendering the containment traps and the containment unit rather useless in the story, but making for a phenomenal spectacle in the final act.  Is that a satisfactory trade-off?  Maybe.  It’s these instances of the lapse in care for the details that tarnishes the final product, and what we’re left with is what my friend Jay observed quite accurately while exiting the theater: “It’s like a Big Budget, Saturday Night Live spoof of Ghostbusters.”  Which leads me to this:

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Let me take a moment to talk about these women.  I am a loyal and unapologetic fan of Saturday Night Live,  and in particular these four.  Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones were and are some of the best parts of the legacy sketch-show, and guaranteed anytime Melissa McCarthy hosts you’ll laugh your ass off.

These women work hard in the name of comedy and this movie is GENUINELY funny, if anything, solely BECAUSE of these women.

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They really delve into the characters they’ve created, each with their own unique quality that helps drive the movie.  We’re introduced to this version of NYC (So blatantly Boston, where it was actually filmed, with it’s cracked pavement and a hint of colonial architecture) through Kristen Wiig’s Erin Gilbert.  Allegedly our Protagonist who was once all for investigating the paranormal, but then comes to conflict with her former partner & friend Abby Yates (Read: Actual Lead of the movie), after Abby publishes a book of the paranormal they worked on together, which now discredits Erin as a legitimate Scientist and Professor seeking tenure at a prestigious college.  Abby has now befriended Kate McKinnon’s Jillian Holtzmann who is a quirky, unique and rather punk rock tinkerer who helps construct all the sweet GhostBustin’ gadgets.  We later meet  Leslie Jones’ Patty Tolan who has this great love and a wealth of knowledge of the history of NY that helps give a sense of NYC that seemed to just come naturally in the original.  They embark on their path to becoming a team when Erin is inevitably thrown out of her job at the college and instances of paranormal activity begin to arise.

This all roughly translates to:

Kristen Wiig = Peter

Leslie Jones = Winston

Meslissa McCarthy = Ray

Kate McKinnon = Egon

But Funny doesn’t always Mean Good, or Well Made.

This being the the flip side of this movie’s divide.  If you are looking for plain dumb (and I emphasize dumb) fun, then I’d advise going to the theaters this weekend, because this movie is your sure bet.

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Being a Ghostbusters fan since childhood, I only wished that SONY had treated this property with the care of the characters and the source material that Marvel Studios does with theirs.  If so, then the moments that were meant to feel serious would have done so, balancing and making the comedic elements that much better. Instead, here they are “all-in” with the jokes, making each scene sillier than the next and a far cry from the tonally spooky cold open we’re treated to where comedic actor Zach Woods faces our first instance of paranormal peril as a prankster tour guide.  There is also the shoe-horned cameos of the original remaining cast, which was much appreciated as a fan, but most of which served very little purpose than to appease the fans.  Which leaves me baffled why one certain cameo gets extended to it’s own sequence, seemingly offering something more than fan service, only to be then swept away and never referenced again (Spoiler Alert: a missed opportunity for said cameo to return as a Ghost, as was once a stipulation for said actor to return).  A fun scene, but in actuality only Harold Ramis & Ernie Hudson’s cameo incited reaction from my viewing audience.

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SONY opened the film with an inexplicable logo stating “Ghost Corps”, which gave me chills of a forced “shared universe” and “Franchise” Jump-Starter tease.  Given the uncertainty SONY had of promoting this as a sequel or a reboot, makes the whole thing feel disingenuous.  Not to mention the scathing history of production & controversy so widely  covered elsewhere and done superbly by the Group “Midnight’s Edge” it’s pointless to re-iterate here, But..

..check it out if you got 30 Minutes to kill and that stuff interests you.

 

Lastly the villain falls horribly short.  We meet this sinisterly Down & Out Nerd, who resents society and takes it upon himself to create these “Ghost Bombs”, little machinations that seem to explode and bring forth spectral entities to eventually bring forth and lead a “Ghost Apocalypse”.  This is a classic case of an under-developed villain with unclear motives and endless, tireless, resources.  Not to knock Neil Casey,neil-casey-ghostbuster-bild-news

he nails the role perfectly as I am sure it was written.  Which is literally to mock the internet that lashed out at the production of this movie, painting him in a cliche of vile nerdiness, regardless though it’s his best work since the last 60 seconds of “Mystery Team”.

Neil Casey Mystery Team 1

Neil Casey Mystery Team 2

But unfortunately he has to share those evil responsibilites with Chris Hemsworth,

who is the hilariously ‘dumb-as-they-come’ receptionist of the Ghostbusters that ends up possessed and mildly villainous near the end,  right about when this movie really starts to unravel.

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The precursor to the final “Giant Something” (Stay Puft, Statue of Liberty, Here: The Ghost from the Ghostbusters logo) that is synonymous with closing out a Ghostbusters movie, is the makings of a dance number lead by Hemsworth meant to delay as to wait upon the arrival of the Ghostbusters.  Yes, the villain waits around for the heroes to show up. Ugh.  Which then, the full sequence was cut out of the movie, but left behind in clips over the credits.  Yes, It’s that kind of movie.

In Closing, this might suit your tastes.  It’s pretty okay for kids, they’d love it. But if you are looking for some of that OG Ghostbusters charm, look no further than right here.

 

 

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