“Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts.”
Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a physicist at Columbia University who is close to reaching tenure. Unfortunately, her reputation is threatened when she learns that a book theorizing on the existence of ghosts that she co-wrote years ago has been published. She tracks down her old partner, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) to try and convince her to take the book out of publication. Erin finds Abby studying the paranormal with an eccentric engineer by the name of Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon).
Abby agrees to take the book out of publication if Erin accompanies her and Jillian to investigate the report of a ghost. Erin agrees and joins the pair to investigate a so called haunted house. It is there where Erin discovers irrefutable proof of the existence of ghosts in the form of one vomiting all over her. A video of Erin’s hysteric reaction to the event leaks online, which leads to critical ridicule from her academic peers. Struck with new found inspiration, Erin joins Abby and Jillian in their hunt for the paranormal. Along the way they are joined by New York history buff Patty (Leslie Jones) and Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), an astoundingly dumb receptionist that has managed to survive purely on his good looks.
This covers about the first half of the film, and for the most part it works pretty well. While the entire film is pretty uneven in terms of jokes that are hit or miss, the first half leaned more towards the hit side. There is some good comedy in watching this new team come together, with McKinnon and Hemsworth being the standouts of the new cast. Hemsworth showcases his mastery of comedic timing in his performance as Kevin, a man so dumb he wears lens-less glasses because the lenses become dirty too easily. Hemsworth was hilarious and used just the right amount in order to not become annoying.
McKinnon is on a whole other level when compared to her fellow cast members. The amount of charisma and energy she brings to the screen is insane, as she breathes so much life and humor to her character that it’s hard not to focus on her in every scene she is in. Literally everything she does is funny, and Jillian clicked with me as a character more so than anyone else in the film. If Ghostbusters get me excited about one thing, it was McKinnon’s future film career.
Leslie Jones was a pleasant surprise. Based on the trailers alone I thought I would find myself supremely annoyed with what appeared to be a racial stereotype, but Jones manages to humanize Patty, to the point where I actually enjoyed her character.
Less successful in their portrayals are the film’s two leads, Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. The pair looked visibly bored the entirety of the film, and failed to make any real impact. Most of the humor from these two fell flat, especially the atrocious running joke of McCarthy’s character’s obsession with wantons which dreadfully rears its head multiple times throughout the film. What really sinks the new cast however is just their lack of chemistry together. I never felt the team “clicked” together like they did in the original Ghostbusters, which prevented much humor from bouncing off the cast naturally.
This wouldn’t be so bad if the film had a great script, which unfortunately it doesn’t. The story of Ghostbusters is familiar and boring, completely devoid of any real surprises. Ghosts come, and the Ghostbusters bust said ghosts. It’s pretty much as simple as that. There is a villain in Rowan (Neil Casey) who is trying to unleash the ghosts, but honestly I felt the film would have been better served is his character was just removed. His presence didn’t add much to the film, and we wouldn’t have to endure the screen time wasted on a generic creepy loner doing creepy loner things.
Ghostbusters also has an over reliance on indulgent fan service to the original film. Many of the cast members from the original make cameo appearances, and they do nothing but completely derail the flow of the film. The film would have been much better served without the inclusion of Bill Murray (never thought I’d say that), Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, and Ernie Hudson. They add nothing to the film other than reminding you that this is a remake of a much better film. There is also the random inclusion of Ozzy Ozbourne for a fraction of a second that I really don’t understand the point of.
The film completely falls apart in its third act, when ghosts have completely overrun New York City. What follows is an action set piece in which we see the Ghosbusters fighting off hordes of ghosts in a a way that really plays against the strengths of director Paul Feig. With Spy, Feig showed his inexperience with directing competent action set pieces. Feig doubles down on this in Ghostbusters and gives a completely unengaging explosion of CGI madness that manages to break its own rules established previously in the film. Instead of the Ghostbusters‘ proton packs capturing the ghosts, they simply destroy them for no other reason than lazy directing. There are a lot of cool and spooky ghost designs that are seen unleashed on New York, but it’s nowhere near enough to salvage this entire sequence. Coupled with the editing issues that were present throughout the film becoming much more prevalent in the final act, the film’s climax manages to fall flat on its face.
With a disappointing story, a cast lacking in chemistry, uneven humor, and poor directing, Ghostbusters unfortunately aligns itself with many of the other recent failed reboots of classic 80s films in being a film that not only fails to live up the original, but also fails to stand on its own.