That somehow massive contingent of unfortunately vocal assholes who have spent the last year or so trashing the new Ghostbusters movie online (before it had even come out, we might add) because it dared to (gasp!) feature four female leads may as well shut up now—it’s one of the best movies this year! The reboot from Paul Feig (Freaks and Geeks, Bridesmaids) and Parks and Recreation writer Kate Dippold is actually everything you want and more, so, like good scientists, let’s examine the facts here.
We'll admit that we were, shall we say, apprehensive about Feig's new foray into the universe. In our defense, that first trailer was horrible, and we were actually pretty much prepared to write the whole thing off. Crisis averted. The new cast is completely stellar, with enjoyable and hysterical performances from everyone. Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) shines as nervous physicist Erin Gilbert who, earlier in life, wrote of the metaphysical with brash fellow scientist, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). Through a spooky series of events spurred by a mysteriously sinister hotel bellman, the pair, along with sassy subway worker Patty Tolan (SNL’s Leslie Jones) and ultra-weird/ultra-genius Jillian Holtzmann (a scene-stealing Kate McKinnon, also of SNL) get down to the business of bustin’ ghosts in the funniest of ways. Soon the fearsome foursome opens a lab/business of sorts, and along with their boneheaded receptionist, played brilliantly stupid by Thor’s Chris Hemsworth, they tackle horrors from the afterlife.
Those who may look back to the original film with rose-colored glasses will find plenty to love here, so long as they haven’t completely made up their minds before they enter theaters (or they aren’t like those ridiculous jerks who would hate a film for a female cast). Let’s really think about the original Ghostbusters for a moment. Yes, it’s beloved, sacred even, but some of the dated material, pacing and special effects have begun to show wear and tear. Now, before you show up at our offices with torches and pitchforks, know that we’re absolutely fans; it’s just that an update hasn’t hurt the franchise whatsoever, and we’re a little confused by the ire since a vast number of films these days are either remakes, reboots or sourced from other material.
This Ghostbusters strikes the perfect balance between new and funny enough to keep our attention and throwback/fan service-y enough to click our nostalgia into high gear. The lead actors each bring something different to the film, and the chemistry between them all is palpable. Wiig’s Erin is vulnerable yet capable, and her inability to rein in her objectification of Hemsworth is a rich area for laughs. McCarthy turns in an excellent performance as well, which is particularly notable in that she generally winds up saying something awkward and then falling down in most of her films. Jones brings the flavor of the everywoman and sheds her usual angry persona for disarmingly sweet yet tough-as-nails. McKinnon, however, is everything as the fearless Holtzmann, a scientist/engineer whose professional curiosity overcomes her fight-or-flight response at every turn (and she provides one of the most badass fight sequences we’ve seen in ages).
Pepper in shriek-worthy cameos from almost all of the original cast and supporting roles from fairly prominent actors and comedians like Michael K Williams, Matt Walsh, Zach Woods, Cecily Strong and many more, and we’ve got one of those fun summer blockbusters like they used to make. Oh sure, there’s a whole mess of CGI and a small number of missteps to nitpick, but as an overall product, Ghostbusters completely nails it. It’s entirely OK to love the original movies and to feel like a part of your life has been messed with, but let’s be real here—Ghostbusters was never about high cinema or emotional storytelling. Hell, it’s about scientists who build nuclear lasers with which they capture ghosts; relax. Assuming you do make an effort to keep an open mind, you’ll find a well-executed take on a beloved property that stands up to its predecessors and maybe even outdoes them now and again. You ain’t afraid of that, are you?
Directed by Paul Feig
With Wiig, McKinnon, McCarthy and Jones
Violet Crown, Regal
PG-13, 116 min.