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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review: Ghostbusters

Synopsis (From Flixster.com):
Ghostbusters makes its long-awaited return, rebooted with a cast of hilarious new characters. Thirty years after the beloved original franchise took the world by storm, director Paul Feig brings his fresh take to the supernatural comedy, joined by some of the funniest actors working today--Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth. This summer, they're here to save the world!

So much has already been written about this movie, what could I possibly add to the discussion, right?  Well, considering that 11 of the 12 "Top Critics" on Rotten Tomatoes were men,  I would like to add my two cents!  I found this version to be funny and spot on about how women would handle (and be handled by) these situations.  But there were some issues that I couldn't ignore.

In the original 1984 movie, three scientists try to use their ghost catching invention to start a business.  They see it as an opportunity to cash in on people's fears.  Contrast that with this version where the new cast simply wants to do research.  There is never a money making motive for these women (one wonders how they can survive since there is no income coming in).  Perhaps in the next movie they will try to monetize their venture.

I also found it fascinating how in the original movie the guys catch ghosts and become celebrities, while in the new movie the women do the same thing and are given a pat on the back and told to keep quiet.  "We don't want to start a panic", exclaims the mayor's assistant.  Sadly, I think this rings very true to what would actually happen.  Go ahead and do great things, just don't expect to be celebrated for it.

I loved that the African-American in this version, Patty, is an equally contributing member of the team.  She has specialized knowledge of New York that the other women do not.  I loved that this character was not just a placeholder.  Plus, Leslie Jones is just so dang funny!  She makes every scene she is in pop.  I just wanted more and more scenes with Patty.

I also enjoyed the Jillian Holtzmann character, played by Kate McKinnon.  With a wild gleam in her eyes, she is the inventor of the group.  I laughed every time the camera cut to her reactions.  Even without words, this woman is hilarious.  I wanted to know more about her backstory and I hope the next movie will feature her even more.

One of the joys of this film is the secondary characters, particularly Bennie the food delivery man.  Actor Karan Soni makes the most of the running gag of not getting Abby's food order right.  I also thought the antagonist, Rowen North (played by Neil Casey) was just the right amount of creepy.  He didn't overdue being the bad guy.

Strangely, I didn't think the two more established comedy stars, Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, were particularly funny.  They basically played it straight throughout the movie.  I hope the next films will be written to showcase more of their comic talents. 

Another thing that I hope they drop in the next movie is all the cameo appearances by the original cast.  Having a bust of Harold Ramis in the background of one scene was a nice, subtle touch.  But the other pop up cameos were a distraction and took the audience out of the moment.  Did the producers feel the need to show they had the blessing of the creators?  If so, that is a shame.  These new Ghostbusters can carry the movie without the crutch of the veteran players.

What I could do less with was the male secretary Kevin, played by Chris Hemsworth.  The producers obviously paid big bucks for the star of Thor to be in this movie, so they seemed to be compelled to include him as much as possible.  For example, towards the end of the movie there is a scene that seems set up to have Kevin dancing on a giant marquee.  The scene was clearly cut, but must have cost a bundle to produce.  Well, it is included in the long end credits as background.  While Chris Hemsworth does show some impressive dance moves, this was clearly not a good fit and should have stayed on the cutting room floor.  I would have been much more interested in showcasing Holtzmann trying out more cool (and explosive) ghost catching gadgets.  Or other shots of the team working together.  The focus should have been on the main characters.

Overall, I think this is a good first entry for the Ghostbusters series reboot.  Though it did not have the gut-busting laughs of the original 1984 movie, it did have the beginnings of a fun comedy team for future films.   


Release Date:  July 15th, 2016

Director:  Paul Feig

Written by:  Paul Feig and Katie Dippold

Run Time:  105 minutes 

Studio:  Sony Pictures

Opening Weekend Gross:  $46,018,755
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