We live in the age of the reboot, the remake, the long-awaited sequel, prequel, and in-betweequel. From Jurassic World to The Force Awakens to Dumb and Dumber To, we’ve witnessed many classic movies and franchises get the 21st century treatment by using nostalgia to their advantage and profiting despite their lack of original content. So, when a gender bent reboot of Ghostbusters was announced, no one was especially surprised but there was an outrage nonetheless. How could anyone tarnish the brilliance that was the eighties by making female Ghostbusters with a ditzy male secretary? It’s abominable!
Well, actually, it’s not. It’s brilliant.
I believe the main point that needs made here is that this is a comedy. As such, the main goal is to provide the audience with humor and enjoyment, and on that criteria, this scores high marks from me. The past of physicist Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) comes back to haunt her when her former colleague Abby Yates (Megan McCarthy) unearths their research and releases it on the Internet. The paranormal begins popping up more and more across New York thanks to a social outcast with an otherworldly agenda, so they team up with engineer extraordinaire Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and subway attendant Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) to battle these forces in a truly unique fashion that I found both cool and comical.
While the entire cast made a successful showing, there were two in particular that had me rolling with laughter. Kate McKinnon is one of several Saturday Night Live alumni in this hit, but she truly steals the spotlight from the two “central” characters with her eccentric and quirky attitude. There is one scene where she is dancing around with a blowtorch in each hand and she unknowingly lights some lab apparatus on fire. Instead of freaking out like any sane person, she doesn’t miss a beat and integrates a fire extinguisher into her routine. Her entire performance was a blast to watch. The second unexpected show stopper was Chris Hemsworth as Kevin, who trades his cape and hammer for a saxophone and glasses frames. I don’t normally think of him as a comedian due to his role as Thor in the MCU, but dammit if he didn’t provide some of the best gags. Just thinking about it makes me laugh out loud. I think this proves him to be a diverse actor that shouldn’t be typecast into certain action rules. I also love how the writers took a stereotypical dumb blonde receptionist role and applied it to this alternative all-female dynamic. And because this is a male sex symbol, constant advances aren’t seen being as creepy as when a male employer does the same to a female employee, because that just wouldn’t fly in today’s society.
I was actually very surprised by how many of the cameos that made it into the film. I counted five total, not including a bust of the late Harold Ramis, and all were from unexpected sources well paced throughout the film. None of the original cast are referenced to have been a part of a past Ghostbusters team, so I think this qualifies as a genuine reboot. However, a smart comment from the mayor’s assistant in the film got me thinking. She says (paraphrased) “events like this have happened in the past, but they’ve been covered up and over time people have completely forgotten about them”, which could be a reference to the franchise or past ghost activity from, say, the 80’s. But the conception of the logo, the name, the weapons all point to this being a hard, yet good, reboot to the franchise. The story was reminiscent of the originals without making a carbon copy with boobs (like the very funny new logo design, courtesy of Kevin). Having a movie consisting entirely of strong female characters and being such a success, in my opinion, says a lot about the shifting perception in Hollywood. Men still dominate, truthfully, but the idea that women can’t lead successful franchises is starting to crumble.
In addition to celebrity cameos, we get a nice sampling of returning ghosts from the last two films, including the Slimer (and his girlfriend, apparently) and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, both of which offer gags and drive the plot in some way. Heck, even the ghost logo plays a huge part in the story that was a total blast to watch. My favorite ghosts however were the stilted man and the dragon, who both impressed me with their originality and coolness. The special effects overall were pretty great, from ectoplasm to the swirling spectral tornado in the climax of the film, and even that funny haunted mannequin scene. The particle streams stayed true to the original though, which I did appreciate. Another aspect that took particular inspiration from its predecessor is the soundtrack, which I thought was just great. I normally celebrate the score of movies over the soundtrack, but every song in this was catchy and relevant, oftentimes drawing from the original theme by Ray Parker. Walk The Moon covers the theme, but the soundtrack includes related songs by Zayn, Elle King, Pentatonix, and Fall Out Boy.
So, to wrap it up, the shortcomings of this film have been blown way out of proportion considering the material presented. Going through the checklist, I can’t really see why they had such a stick up their ass. As a comedy, it was very funny. As a horror, there were several creepy moments. And as an action, there were explosions and fighting dominating the second half. Sure, it has flaws, but the experience is fulfilling enough to forgive them. As a summer blockbuster, this is definitely worth your time and money, especially if you’re the nostalgic type. I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.
Great fun, 4 out of 5 Stars