Ghostbusters (2016) – A Review

I promise you clicked on a movie review, but before I dive into that, I just wanted to add my two cents to the now-overexposed debate that accompanied the build-up to 2016’s Ghostbusters. Really, it’s only one sentence: if you like or dislike a movie based purely on what gender the lead roles are instead of the actual content of a movie, you’re just an insufferable, immature individual, and I hope to never have an actual conversation with you. If you’re a fully-mentally-developed human being capable of rational thought, by all means, let’s have a chat about this after you’ve read my review! Hell, let’s chat after any review of mine you’ve read! I love having unnecessarily-deep, civilized conversations about movies. Anyway, let’s get on with the actual movie…

I seem to recall a time defending the idea of this movie to a few naysayers when director Paul Feig and the 4 leading ladies’ involvements were announced. I’m still having to defend it against naysayers even when the movie is out there for everyone to see so they can fully inform their opinions. Whatever; Bobby Brown would say that’s their prerogative so I’ll go with that. Regardless, I had an iota of excitement in me pertaining to seeing this flick just based on how much I loved Bridesmaids and mostly enjoyed The Heat and Spy. Feig just lets comedians completely explore their space while fairly reigning them in so they don’t wander too far from the plot, and I respect that. Mediocre or just-plain bad trailers aside, my curiosity was still piqued to at least see what the end result was. And at the end of the day, Feig delivered a pretty hilarious, moderately enjoyable reboot, but not without its faults. Did it outdo the original Ghostbusters? No, but was that ever possible from most movies? Let’s be realistic.

The 4 ladies chosen for the titular lead roles were a very smart move. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy are just reliably funny, and Wiig has been showing her range in some pretty great independent films lately. Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon are definitive standouts on Saturday Night Live, so both additions made sense. And I have to say, despite what the trailers showed in terms of cringe-worthy, predictable one-liners, their chemistry really worked in the movie, and the comedy shown in the trailers couldn’t have been represented well in that medium since they were situational jokes. If we’re talking standouts from those 4, McKinnon elicited the most laughs from me. There were a few occasions where she’d be in the background distracting from the dialogue between other characters, but mostly, she’s just the right amount of wacky to tickle my funny bone. Wiig and McCarthy’s ability to play off each other translated to the screen as well, as we became familiar with in Bridesmaids. Jones definitely brings her own individual energy to the team along with some laughs, and that’s probably what’s so commendable for the casting. Each of the 4 have their own unique, rather funny characteristics. But it’s definitely the little, improvised-feeling moments of dialogue that build their chemistry best and make you believe they’re a team.

As far as minor characters go, Chris Hemsworth as the dopey assistant Kevin is quite the comedic standout along with McKinnon. Kevin’s clearly an absolute moron that’s skating by life on his looks, and his antics are absolutely gut-busting. Neil Casey plays the villain, and I couldn’t care less to be honest. Playing the character like a robot was just a weird direction from Feig (I assume). Also, movies like Ghostbusters don’t necessarily need a human villain component but I see why they tried. There’s also a few cameos from the remaining original cast, and most of them just ruined the pacing for me. They’re practically hitting pause on the plot to point at the screen and say, “remember this guy/lady?” It just struck me as entirely unnecessary. This will not be the first time I type this on the review: if you want to reboot a film series, then reboot it. I felt the fan service knocked down some much-needed originality points from the Jeff scale (that doesn’t exist).

As far as plot goes, it was relatively uninspired and rather basic, but not as offensive as the Internet probably wanted it to be. I do wish it was more of a story set in a New York City that happened to have ghosts in it, instead of what we got (which I can’t say because of spoilers. Annoying right?). And there are rules in this Ghostbusters universe that differ from the original, but most of them that we see in the third act are never explained. Things just arbitrarily occur, maybe for a cheap laugh or maybe for plot, and we’re supposed to believe it’s possible because ghosts do. Also, you have some fight scenes where there are just some ridiculously stupid things happening, but not in a funny way. It’s more of a painfully unfunny, eye-roll-inducing way. I will say McKinnon has just a badass moment in the final “fight” scene that I wish they were able to tap into for the rest of the characters and their “fights.”

If you’re a rabid nearly-O.C.D. completionist like me, stay through the joyful credits and see the after-credits scene which drops hints of a sequel. If you’re craving more originality from this reboot and its potential new trilogy/universe, the after-credits scene will just frustrate you like it did me. Again, if you’re going to reboot a movie series, then take the risks and reboot it, regardless of how unnecessary said reboot is. Complaints aside, I still laughed an awful lot, especially in the first hour. The 2nd hour is where the movie seemed to forget it was a comedy at times, and had to resolve its somewhat messy plot. For the most part though, the laughs and the chemistry of the lead cast are what I remember most, and I will continue to remember it fondly. It’s difficult to strongly recommend this for the stupidity in the 3rd act, but please do if an abundance of free time befalls you. I don’t think you’ll regret it. It’s certainly better than Ghostbusters II. And if you do regret it for some reason, go watch the original 1984 film. Of course it’s better, and it’ll always be there. Childhood definitely not ruined.

Grade: B-

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