By Vincent Abbatecola
In 1984, director Ivan Reitman gave audiences one of the most iconic movies of the decade with “Ghostbusters.” Watching Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson hunt menacing specters made for an enjoyable supernatural comedy that still endures today. “Ghostbusters 2” followed in 1989, and while it had its moments, it couldn’t quite capture the same sense of fun as the original.
Over the last few months, there has been a lot of conversation as to whether or not a “Ghostbusters” reboot would be accepted by modern audiences, given how beloved the original is. I’m pleased to say, although director Paul Feig’s “Ghostbusters” doesn’t quite reach the comedic heights of Reitman’s original, it’s still a rather fun return to the franchise.
Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a respected physics professor at Columbia University. When she, her long-time friend Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), and the latter’s research partner, Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), make a paranormal discovery in a local museum, word gets out, but many don’t believe them. The three are soon fired from their jobs, but take the opportunity to start up their own ghost-hunting business. Later, an MTA worker, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), discovers a ghost in a subway tunnel, and applies for a job with the Ghostbusters, believing her knowledge of the city can help them. When the four discover an individual’s plan to increase paranormal activity throughout the city and the rest of the world, the new Ghostbusters will do what they can to prevent the apocalyptic event from occurring.
Just like with the cast of the original two films, the new crew displays just as much chemistry. Wiig, McCarthy, Jones, and McKinnon have all shown to have great comedic abilities on either “Saturday Night Live,” in feature films, or both. With all of them providing a different personality for their characters, each interaction between them offers something new at which to laugh, making this comical quartet one I would really like to see in a sequel.
Despite all four women having scenes where they can show off their skills at humor, I have to say the most memorable of the new Ghostbusters is McKinnon. At the moment, she’s easily one of the best cast members of “Saturday Night Live,” and she shows she has potential to star in big-screen comedies. Her character is a pure standout with her whacky hairstyle, crazy-scientist look in her eyes, and line deliveries that always makes you crack a smile.
Out of all of the supporting roles, Chris Hemsworth is fun to watch as the Ghostbusters’ comically inept receptionist, but his character’s level of stupidity becomes a bit overkill, making it seem like Hemsworth is trying a little too hard to be funny.
Given the original film was released over 30 years ago, the reboot has the advantage of improved special effects, which are put to good use in the film’s climactic showdown between the Ghostbusters and an army of phantom menaces. Although the visuals aren’t anything groundbreaking, seeing improved CGI for a “Ghostbusters” film offers more possibilities for paranormal activity that can be explored in any future installments.
While the film hits several of the same story beats as the original film and has a little too much fan service, the screenplay by Feig and Katie Dippold still has a few new things to add to the “Ghostbusters” franchise. They provide enough opportunities for each of the four stars to showcase their talents and give them all memorable moments in between and within the film’s big set pieces, even if some of the jokes they are given hit better than others.
Having directed such comedic hits as “Bridesmaids,” “The Heat,” and “Spy,” Feig continues to show he is a reliable filmmaker when it comes to working with women. The movie depends on how well the actresses click, and Feig knows how to utilize a cast to bring the laughs. If there’s a sequel to this reboot, and Feig provides the four leads with a script that’s a little more consistent in the quality of its jokes, then I would love to see this group bring out their proton packs again and strike some fear in those ghosts.
Final grade: B