There is no sense in burying the lead; Ghostbusters 2016 was an “OK” flick. I’m not one of the hosts of haters that heaved seemingly endless slurs on the movie and its cast before it even opened. This 2016 reboot had to overcome some large obstacles before it could be adequately reviewed. An all female cast was chosen resulting in an avalanche of frankly shocking tweets and Internet blurbs. So bad was the backlash that Leslie Jones (Patty in the film) actually left several social media platforms as a result of anti-women and racist remarks. Following that was a less than mediocre trailer ushering in some deserved criticism. That was then followed by a needless alteration to the iconic theme song.
In spite of it all Ghostbusters made it to the theaters and now needs to be judged based on its merits. The ladies did great. Abby (Melissa McCarthy) Holtzman (Kate McKinnon), play the Ray and Egon of the group, while Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Patty (Lesilie Jones) play the Venkman and Zeddmore roles. McCarthy and Wiig were more toned down than we are used to while Leslie and Kate McKinnon kick it up to an eleven. McKinnon stole every scene she was in regardless of whether she is in the foreground or not.
The director and cast of Ghostbusters 2016 succeed in created a great standalone film. It doesn’t succeed in being anything else. Paul Feig of Bridesmaids fame seemed to be more at home on a raunchier set. There was a definite feeling of awkwardness while watching the film. It appeared like Fieg slammed on the brakes to dumb this material down to its base elements eliminating some of our favorite elements of the past. A prime example is the absence of real tension as when Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) was attacked by her household appliances. Moreover, when she reappeared on screen there was a noticeable evil about her that would unnerve the youngsters.
While I don’t advocate scaring the hell out your children I do promote making choices. Ghostbusters 2016 is neither a real comedy or horror film. Ghostbusters 1984 was accessible to children as well as adults. While the adults where laughing at the innuendo and other humor the kids enjoyed “Slimer” and the overt slapstick. Furthermore, it still worked as a horror movie. Many of Sigourney Weaver’s scenes were tension filled and there seemed to be a pressing danger you cared about stopping. Finally, all of that happened before the iconic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man arrived. I credit Ivan Rietman for staying in his wheelhouse and making a Sci-Fi film akin to his Meatballs and Stripes outings.
Ghostbusters 2016 fell victim to the same disease as Ghostbusters 2 1989. That disease is called “Camp” and this film was full of it. It felt more like watching “The Real Ghostbusters” cartoon than a reboot of the 84’ franchise. The second outing by the boys was affected by the success of the cartoon and there is a marked change in the style and nature of the ghosts they do battle with. Basically it got broken down to try and reach the broadest audience possible and lost the luster. The ladies suffer this fate as their villain lacks interest and the final battle with the “Big Bad” is quick and too easy. I mean they achieved a “Full Proteomic Reversal” without any drama. They need to find the middle ground. Blend the two genres as the original did to make a universally interesting movie.
My final criticism was the literal parade of CGI used in the final 20 minutes of the movie. A familiar Marshmallow Man arrives to try and crush the girls with a pinprick disarming him. That was followed by the ever delightful and film reviving Kate McKinnon issuing new weapons from her utility belt to disarm the parade of ghouls approaching her. Given their blue tint and generally bland nature “I really aint afraid of no ghost”.
Our entire ghoul fighting team from 1984 make an appearance honoring the past and blessing the new endeavor. Even Harold Ramis shows up as a bust in the science wing of the university Wiig works for. This was a nice tribute to the original but cannot begin to compare.
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