Release Date: July 15
Production Company: Columbia Pictures
Duration: 116 minutes
I sat down in my seat for a late-night showing of the “Ghostbusters” reboot with low expectations and a pretty good idea of the mediocre rating I would be giving the film.
I expected the usual — a junior-adult comedy with raunchy jokes and canned jump scares. I expected the 1984 film but directed by Paul Feig with 2016 women slid into the original roles. I expected low-quality cinematography and stale performances with some kind of feminism label slapped over all of it.
To say that I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement.
The film honestly sparkled and snapped off of the screen. An older, not-so-great classic was recycled and updated and made better.
The jokes were funnier, the scares were more startling, the acting was more genuine and the story was better explained. In short, the film surprised me. Beneath the tacky trailer and controversial reception, it kept the interest of the audience and had an amount of quality not often seen in comedies or reboots or ghost movies.
The film is set in New York City and quickly introduces three scientists who may be in danger of losing their professional reputations due to their belief in ghosts.
Kristen Wiig plays Erin Gilbert, the skeptic of the three, with Melissa McCarthy as Abby Yates and Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann — the two labmates who initiate the women’s journey into the world of professional ghost busting.
The trio is later joined by Leslie Jones, who plays Patty, a subway worker who can’t shake a ghost-sighting she experiences down on the tracks. The four women build equipment and their ghost-busting reputations as they take down slime-throwing apparitions all over NYC and work up to a grand and very ghostly final fight.
The cinematography and slightly eerie apparitions are engaging and well done. It comes as no surprise after watching the film that the director of photography was Robert D. Yeoman, known for his work on Wes Anderson’s many masterpieces.
Together with cameos from some of the original ghostbusters and other added roles such as Kevin, the ladies’ eye candy secretary played by Chris Hemsworth, the film takes the real-life chemistry between the cast and neatly bottles it up to give to the audience.
The easy improv and rapport between the actors keeps the film constantly on its feet and the audience constantly laughing. Seldom have I seen this much chemistry in a comedy cast that doesn’t ride on well known tropes or characterizations, such as the identical roles played from movie to movie by the likes of Seth Rogen or Will Ferrell.
The individuality of the characters was also well done, with each ghostbuster having her own style, humor and personality. While the film did give a nod to the original quartet, the 2016 ghostbusters were far from being contained by their predecessors and developed new personas effortlessly.
In fact, the film as a whole — which wasn’t a sequel but rather an updated remake — was nostalgic at points but never limited by the original version. Rather than recreating the 1984 film, the 2016 edition almost seems freshly minted.
The new film took the 1984 “Ghostbusters” with its lackluster jokes, characterizations and treatment of women and turned it on its head. It dealt with issues of gender and objectification through humor — for instance, it makes a tongue-in-cheek statement about the rampant objectification of women in secondary roles in film through the presence of Chris Hemsworth as the handsome, dumb secretary.
The movie was also incredibly free from the conventional male presence that is characteristic of most films. The film revolved around women and their talents and their humor, with men playing comedic bit parts and the super villain, making the film feel like a sisterhood, especially for female viewers.
This focus on women makes the reboot a game-changer for women in films who don’t already have an established platform — especially female comedians.
The performances of the women — especially of the endearing and uproariously funny Kate McKinnon — thrust funny females who aren’t Tina Fey or Amy Poehler into the spotlight through fun roles and their own perfect comedic timing.
The movie proved that the ladies of “Saturday Night Live” or with other comedic reputations should be showcased, placing Bill Murray in the role of an extra, Chris Hemsworth in the objectified and shallow secretary role that has been given to women for so long, and a straight, white male character played by Neil Casey in the role of the super villain — all while managing not to take itself too seriously.
Only two areas kept “Ghostbusters” out of the realm of a five-star comedy — the easily forgettable soundtrack and the film’s lack of attention toward race issues, specifically the rights of women of color.
The film’s updated “Ghostbusters” theme performed by Fall Out Boy left a little to be desired, as did the rest of the film’s music that, frankly, I just don’t remember much of.
The movie’s treatment of Jones’ character Patty was not satisfying as it resorted to the sassy black woman stereotype. However, as Jones often plays the type of character she did in the film in comedy sketches, I can only give the film’s makers the benefit of the doubt and hope they were riding on Jones’ comedy character that she has built for herself, as Patty did have some of the best lines.
The charming comedy and the just-scary-enough jump scares of the 2016 “Ghostbusters” are both satisfying and entertaining. The film is well-made in nearly every aspect and makes a much bigger statement than the original “Ghostbusters” did, accomplishing an incredible amount in a two-hour comedy film.
It tells a story, makes the audience laugh and be scared in turn and comments on gender issues and the power of women, making the reboot a comedy classic for the 21st century viewer.