This was a film that I wasn’t sure about. A reboot to Ghostbusters, one of the best loved films of the 1980’s? Surely a recipe for disaster. And whilst I enjoyed watching the casting of the film turn the dumbest parts of the internet into a frothing rage, I wasn’t sure that they would live up to what had come before. So before we get into the review proper, let’s ask the key questions:
- Is it better than Ghostbusters?
- Is it better than Ghostbusters 2?
- Is it funny?
- Should the self-proclaimed Men’s Rights Activists falling over themselves to post 1 star IMDB reviews that heavily feature the word ‘Feminazi’ be locked in a room with an enraged cougar?
- Where did I leave my keys?
And to provide quick answers to those questions – No, Yes, Very, As soon as I find my keys to the cougar pit and Ah, they’re on top of the fridge.
So to address the obvious point first – remaking Ghostbusters is a dumb idea. The film is brilliant, every part of it works from cast to story to direction to humour… it’s an almost flawless film, the chemistry between the leads is superb. And this isn’t me living my past with rose-tinted glasses. After watching the new one, I rewatched Ghostbusters and still found myself laughing all the way through.
Still, if you find yourself committed to a bad idea, best to go with it with full gusto and they certainly do that. And you know what? It works. It works really well. The film is hilarious, each of the cast bringing something different. Kirsten Wiig’s plays it mostly straight as Erin – the college professor who used to believe in ghosts and is estranged from her former best friend Abby, played by Melissa McCarthy. She’s the quirky scientist working in a small school building who is searching for signs of the paranormal with her new partner Jillian, played by Kate McKinnon. Putting the quirk factor up to 11, she’s an amoral mad scientist – building various devices more likely to cause harm to the team than the ghosts – and she steals pretty much every scene that she’s in. The plot contrives to have them experiencing a ghost at the same time, joining forces to open a ghostbusting unit before being joined by Patty (Leslie Jones), a streetsmart local historian as they try to work out why all the ghosts are appearing..
Cleverly, the film doesn’t try and ape the original film scene for scene. First of all, it’s a lot more reliant of slapstick comedy than the original with a great reliance on stuntwork and effects. And whilst the phrase ‘slapstick comedy’ normally has my reaching for a bottle of off-brand domestic bleach, it’s done well here. It’s not over-bearing and did make me laugh, mainly due to McKinnon’s deadpan delivery throughout. And speaking of things that made me laugh about the film, Chris Hemsworth’s receptionist character made me laugh far too hard on a number of occasions. Admittedly in the early scenes I thought his character was playing things a little dumb… but the surreal comments he came out with as the film progressed had me warming to him.
The film also throws up some nice set pieces as well. Ghosts appearing at a heavy metal gig is a particularly good one, the audience throwing horns at the visions that appear as the band plays on. And the third act is particularly entertaining as the team tackle various ghosts for New York’s history, including gangsters and pilgrims. And whilst visual effects alone would not be enough to justify an updated film, the visual jokes that the film throws up during this sequence are great fun. I’ll not spoil all the surprises, only the ones from the trailer and will say that the Stay Puft Man’s reappearance did have me laughing the way through.
So that’s why the film is worth watching. But it’s not perfect, there are some issues. Most glaring was Neil Casey’s character Rowan – without wishing to spoil, he plays the villain of the piece who is attempting bring about the end of humanity because… he’s a bit weird and is bullied by his colleagues? That seems to be his sole motivation, though in fairness to the film he was never the point of the film. Instead, he only really appears as a plot device to allow the main characters to develop and get into entertaining scrapes. That, and he could be seen as the director getting revenge on the keyboard warriors tearing the film to shreds after the merest mention of the premise. The other issue though, does relate to the original. Whilst I said approximately 380 words ago that the film doesn’t try to ape the original, it can’t help but refer to it repeatedly. The ‘nudge nudge, wink wink, see what they did there’ move can be effective and a nice moment for the fans… but doing it 20 times in the same film is grating. The original film’s surviving cast members all make appearances as well, to varying effect – Bill Murray actually has a character to play, Sigourney Weaver raises a laugh in the post-credits sequence. Dan Ackroyd’s however is as embarrassing as his appearance in Casper, and Ernie Hudson appears seemingly for the sake of completion at the end.
Those flaws and my initial scepticism aside, the film is well worth a watch. It’s not as good as the original, but then very few films are. It is better than the sequel, but then most films are. However, it is a fun update of the franchise – you can argue if it was needed, but it is a fun ride now that it’s here. And in contrast to this one, I’m eagerly looking forward to the next one. Still, I am aware that there will be those who I’ve enraged with the kind words towards the film and who will be banging their heads against their keyboards, in the vain hope that they can find some way of turning angry grunts into reasoned argument. And to those people, I have three comments for you. 1) How did you get out of my cougar pit? 2) Grow up. Women can be funny, it is not an insult to the original cast to have female actors taking on the role. 3) If you still disagree, feel free to tweet all your hate to me via @RealDonaldTrump
Score | 4/5