Monday, July 18, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016) Review

2016 has produced some truly outstanding films, but it's safe to say the summer tent-pole slate has been lackluster. Captain America soared but other seemingly safe bets in terms of entertainment level like Batman v Superman and X-Men: Apocalypse failed to leave a lasting impression. While a rebooted Ghostbusters doesn't exactly sound like a fresh idea, writer/director Paul Feig wanted to put his own stamp on the franchise by bringing it back with something interesting to say in terms of gender roles, but a new spin on things doesn't necessarily mean a quality picture and the first trailer released by Sony Pictures was rather poor and made me assume the worst. Expectations lowered but still more than willing to give the movie a chance, I took my seat.

The result was a somewhat funny and pretty decent film, certainly not Feig's finest work but more than enough to give an audience a reason to smile for roughly two hours. The jokes are hit or miss but some that hit really work, and it isn't the fault of the cast when some attempts at laughs don't land. Kate McKinnon is very talented and has her moments in the film, but much of her humor hinged on the far too simple concept of weird equals funny and I wasn't buying a lot of it. Kristen Wiig is fine but her performance felt very familiar, and the same can be said of Melissa McCarthy but thank god Feig was smart enough to avoid any weight related gags that have become low hanging fruit material for an actress who can do so much more. My personal favorite was Leslie Jones who much like everyone delivered a few duds, but completely won me over during a scene taking place at a concert that was probably the funniest bit in the film.

The nods to the original film were fine and clever enough but I didn't find any of them to really add anything to the experience either. Basically just there to give people a reason to give the person next to them a quick grin only to forget about it later. The visual effects were occasionally awesome but it's a shame how much movies in general these days rely on such obvious CG without an ability to make it blend seamlessly. Where the original film made everything feel organic, even the most supernatural of entities, the contrast between human and green screen creation was apparent throughout.

I was asked today by someone whether I am leaning a bit more positive with Ghostbusters because of personal bias, and I think it's a fair question considering I do root for more female driven productions with the hope that as my daughter gets older it won't be such a surprise or noteworthy aspect to cinema if women are running the show. The ability to show a movie like this to her does make me smile, and I really appreciated Feig flipping the gender roles not only in terms of the ghost busting itself but the clever idea of making the sexy and vapid secretary role be played by Chris Hemsworth (who much like everything involved was hit or miss), so yes, it is entirely possible that I view something like this with a glass half full mentality.

Regardless, the new Ghostbusters is neither a roaring success nor the total disaster that a dark and creepy corner of the internet wanted it to be. It's just a fun time at the movies, which compared to much of the comedy being released, that's a pretty huge endorsement.



  1. Pretty much my experience as well.

    Your final sentence certainly hit a bullseye. Sometime in the last decade or so, every new comedy must now be vetted. Taking a stick and carefully poking to see if it is an exploding bag of vomit and dog shit. Literally. Because that's "funny". "Funny" now having the definition of "writing witty lines with sharp timing is HARD".

    1. Glad we are on the same page here Big Murr, appreciate the thoughts.