Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

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Remember when Jay-Z said “ladies is pimps too”? Well, now ladies is Ghostbusters too. For the first time in 27 years, a full-length Ghostbusters film is in theaters, and the foursome of paranormal investigators and eliminators is played by an all-female cast, and the world is better for it. While I want to spend the majority of this review discussing the actual movie, I feel obliged to address the obnoxious political tantrum that has been thrown over this film’s existence. No, not liking or even wanting to see the new Ghostbusters because of your allegiance to the original two films, or because you harbor some illegitimate fear that your childhood will be “ruined” does not make you a misogynist. Conversely, not liking or wanting to even see the new Ghostbusters because you feel that women should not be Ghostbusters, or that they are incapable of being scientists (even just on film) or are similarly unable to be funny, then indeed, that makes you a sexist asshole. Moving on.

When in the first five minutes of a movie one of the characters fires off a joke about an old haunted house at one time having a “face bidet” and an “anti-Irish security fence,” you know you’re in for one hilarious ride. That should come to be expected from director Paul Feig, who is responsible for comedy blockbusters Bridesmaids and The Heat. Feig continues the streak here with great writing and a strong cast, which includes Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon (who you may know as the woman who famously made Ryan Gosling break character and laugh hysterically while she described her alien abduction in a skit on Saturday Night Live), as well as Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones, both also from SNL. Despite reports I’ve seen to the contrary, these four ladies have perfectly good chemistry on screen, delivering equal parts laughter and intelligence.

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Wiig stars as Erin Gilbert, a college professor who loses her job just as she’s about to get tenure at her university after a video of her freaking out about the existence of ghosts gets leaked online. Her former partner Abby Yates (McCarthy), with whom she wrote a book on ghosts, is also a scientist who is working with Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon) on equipment that can be used to capture such paranormal entities. Patty Tolan (Jones), a subway worker who knows the city like the back of her hand, quickly rounds out the foursome  she visits the office of the Ghostbusters after she sees a ghost in one of the tunnels. When supernatural activities start to proliferate throughout the streets of New York City, the ladies strap on their proton packs, hop in the new Ecto-1 and start busting heads, in a spiritual sense. All of this is given rise by Rowan, a creepy hotel bellhop who has been bullied his whole life and decides he’ll have his revenge by opening a portal to another dimension and bringing in the nastiest of ghouls to torture the inhabitants of the city.

On the subject of the ghosts, I personally think that they look great. Many of them were actually quite scary, but one in particular, a dragon ghost that attempted to terrorize a metal show didn’t even seem to phase the concertgoers. I loved the new look of most everything, from the jumpsuits, to the Ecto-1, to the proton packs, and to the updated PKE meter, although the neutrino wand looks a bit awkward. I commend Paul Feig for being so involved in the development of the props, and for keeping fans updated with sneak peeks of it all before the movie was released.

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One of the highlights of the film was the introduction of the Ghostbusters’ new receptionist, Kevin, played by Chris Hemsworth. Dumb as a box of rocks and sexually objectified, he’s responsible for many of the memorable one-liners from the movie. While David Margulies, who played Mayor Lenny Clotch in the first two Ghostbusters movies is sorely missed since his passing earlier this year, Andy Garcia is delightful as the mayor of New York City in the new film.

Wiig, while starting off wound-up a bit too much (a mockery is made of her choice of wardrobe), she lightens up as the film progresses, and is quite funny while bouncing off of the other ladies. McCarthy, who I originally had reservations about starring in this film due to some obvious typecasting that’s been going on in her body of work, was tolerable and quite entertaining when her decibel level had been taken down a couple notches. Leslie Jones was hilarious, lovable, and was responsible for procuring the hearse from her character’s uncle that served as the Ecto-1, so she’s a winner in my book. McKinnon was the real comedic revelation here, and I’ll just leave that for you to take in. It’s hard to adequately describe – she just plain has it.

To top it all off, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts all briefly appear in the film. While I would love to tell you how they appear and what they say, that would simply ruin too much of the fun. Everybody’s favorite neighborhood ghost Slimer makes his return, and early on in the film, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of a bust of Harold Ramis. There’s even a gratuitous and unnecessary cameo from Ozzy Osbourne, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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Overall, the movie is funny and hip, and a great update to the franchise that longtime fans can truly appreciate if they only gave it a chance. The ladies are fiercely intelligent and riotously funny, and this all-female cast of Ghostbusters is welcome and refreshing. The success of this movie will be a huge middle finger to an Internet full of sexist pigs and trolls that are still trying to sabotage it by voting down positive reviews on various ratings websites. Sony has already greenlit a sequel, and the film just opened this past weekend. Give it a chance, and don’t forget to stay for the after-credits scene! One word in that scene should make any Ghostbusters fan shiver with delight!

Ghostbusters 2016 is one of the more controversial movies to come out in recent memory, due to the female-fronted cast, the fact that Leslie Jones’ character is the only one of the four who is not a scientist (which she herself did not even care about, because she got to play, you know, a GHOSTBUSTER), and collective temper tantrum that the Internet’s man-babies have thrown over the film’s perceived threat to their delicate childhoods. Despite the political firestorm surrounding the film, Ghostbusters is fully fun, loaded with great cameos and Easter eggs, and is more than passable as reboots go. I love the Ghostbusters more than most things, and on behalf of my fellow fans, I’m ecstatic that the universe is still alive and expanding.

Ghostbusters 2016 is a movie that stands on its own. It does not exist in the universe of the first two movies, and while it features cameos from the original stars, it does not rely heavily on that or wink too many times at the audience with nods to the first pair of films.  I solemnly promise that no childhoods were ruined in the making of this film.

 

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