Film Review: Ghostbusters

by Chad Liffmann on July 15, 2016

Ghostbusters panders then panders some more, and only delivers when embracing its own originality.

Mighty ghostbustin' foursome.

Mighty ghostbustin’ foursome.

It’s obvious, or maybe just to me, that director/writer Paul Feig was under serious pressure to cater his entire effort in relauching Ghostbusters to the fans of the original films. Possibly due to the stupid backlash against the production for casting four women in the lead roles, and for the sake of protecting a cherished 80s title, Feig decided to include an unfathomable amount of shout-outs, throwbacks, and cameos alluding to the original Ghostbusters films. The cast, and Feig, are incredibly talented. The best moments of the new Ghostbusters film happen when the original 80’s films are out of its sights, and instead, it embraces the comedic timing and inventive action that the actors and director are each capable of, respectively.

This is not a sequel. This is a remake. And to that effect, it didn’t make sense to include so many cameos of the original cast members. This is especially frustrating when part of the point was to give equally talented women center stage. The guest appearances and throwbacks are extremely disruptive and distracting, and since leaving the film I’ve concluded that none of them add any value to the story…at all. I wish I could give even more credit to the four women than they’ve rightfully earned with their hilarious performances in the new Ghostbusters, but the pandering disrupted the flow and at times overshadowed their performances. Of course, as we all know from all the hubbub leading up to its release, the four women consist of Feig favorite Melissa McCarthy, SNL alumnae Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon, and current SNL member Leslie Jones. They are all hilarious. They make Ghostbusters pretty darn funny (maybe a little too funny!) I can’t wait to see a sequel that allows more time for them to develop their characters. Special specific shout out to Jones and McKinnon for stealing every scene — Jones plays the tough loud-mouthed New York “historian” of the group and McKinnon as the (probably mad) scientist and weapons expert of the group.

Ghostbusters also suffers from a supremely lame villain. The villain is on par with an annoying internet troll. The irony isn’t too subtle. Anyway, he’s not haunting like Zuul or Vigo in Ghostbusters 1 or 2. Also, the villainous “master plan” involves the paranormal but not in a masked creepy natural spectral way that one would hope. It’s just lackluster and polished, a sad excuse to get the lead characters fighting ghosts at a mass scale without using the brains to come up with something more complex. The action pieces, on the other hand, are much more intelligently conceived. The last thirty minutes of the film involve a lot of great photon pack firing and ghost-bursting explosions and lasso-type wrangling. There’s one sequence involving McKinnon wielding double photon firing pistols while the Ghostbusters theme is blasting that is super awesome.

Of course, the worst part when realizing that the new Ghostbusters is not as great as it could’ve been is that all the naysayers and angry misogynistic trolls will blame the movie’s “failings” on the female leads. Well, far from it, trolls. The movie lacked the confidence to entertain us by trusting the sturdy shoulders of its incredible talent, and thus sacrificed the time to pace out the script with genuinely serious/dramatic moments, a worthy villain, and smooth-flowing comedy sans-cameos. The sequel will be better. This one was fun enough. The second one won’t need to prove anything, and that’ll be its greatest strength…that, and Jones’ perfect delivery…and McKinnon’s wackiness.

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Ghostbusters opens in theaters today, Friday, 7/15.

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