Ghostbusters: Movie Review
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To the chagrin of classic movie fans, Columbia Pictures has called upon the Ghostbusters to conjure up box office success this summer. But, is it any good?
With all female leads, Ghostbusters -- the 2016 edition -- has its share of naysayers. Remakes can be tricky. But despite the many potential pitfalls, this updated version isn't a total bust. Granted, this critic's expectations were low, abysmally low.
Our story begins with the news of a haunted mansion throwing estranged childhood friends and scientists/paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) back together again. Joined by engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and subway worker/NYC historian Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), the four "ghost girls" root out an apocalyptic-sized threat that could unleash centuries of apparitions on the unsuspecting populous.
Accustomed to working with these talented comedians, director Paul Feig (Spy, The Heat, Bridesmaids) does a pretty bang up job – better than expected – of balancing moments of nostalgia for the Bill Murray/Dan Aykroyd classic and updating it enough to make it a fresh movie experience for fans. The ladies have comedic chemistry and the adlibbing that must have gone on while cameras were rolling on these improv queens is hilariously evident. Thor, also known as Chris Hemsworth, brought a good bit of funny to scenes as well (in fact, McCarthy has said the go-to action/drama guy was an impressive improv-er on set).
This popcorn movie has a good foundational message that speaks to the power and consequences of our choices. Regardless of our past and any bullying endured, we can choose to do right by others. Life stinks; and people can be mean and sometimes downright evil. But, humanity isn't discardable. How this comedy goes about dealing with the evil that arises isn't, of course, spiritually sound (more on that later).
Caution is definitely advised. Cameos abound, as does the comedy. However, the jokes can be crude (especially as one of the "ghost girls" fawns over Hemsworth's character.) It doesn't drag out, but the dialogue is weak at times. For this non-horror watching critic, Ghostbusters is a little scary. If you've seen the 1984 film, then you've got an idea of the campiness of these ghosts. Still, there are some spooky encounters that take the creepy factor up a notch. Rated PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor, Ghostbusters is not for young kids.
The focus on "supernatural" happenings is cause for concern, as the movie takes a decidedly comedic approach to evil spirits and the like. The only mention of Jesus is when a frightened security guard is outed for soiling his pants. Contrarily, one of the leads casts out a demon, declaring, "The power of Patty compels you." Though it's nice to see that Jillian's gadgets aren't the only way to get rid of these evils, suggesting the power we can have against such things, this comedy doesn't get real -- or true -- enough. It doesn't point or even hint at faith being the answer.
So, if you've seen and can handle the original, then you might like this updated ghost-hunting comedy. If you're not OK with "ghost stories", don't get a ticket.
*NOTE: Should you see the film, stay till the very end. There is a post-credits video clip that alludes to a sequel.
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