2.5 out of 5 stars (decent)
The new Ghostbusters film is about as good or bad as you think it will be. Yes, they are women, yes the theme song has gotten a modern upgrade by Fall Out Boy, and yes, the humor is somewhat juvenile at points. However, at least 3 out of the 4 team members are giving funny performances here (a scaled-back Melissa McCarthy, and Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, both hilarious,) and the action and 3D provide some effective jump scares. However, the hit-or-miss Kristen Wiig is completely unbelievable here, due to her normal woe-as-me shtick feeling totally out of place for this film, along with some horrendous character writing. Is it the worst film of the year? No, but it certainly isn’t that great either.
We meet physicist Dr. Erin Gilbert (a shockingly bad Kristen Wiig, just Wiiging it up for the cameras,) a mousy genius who is looking at some nice tenure at a university. Unbeknownst to her colleagues, Erin wrote a book about the paranormal years earlier with friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), which is unfortunately up on Amazon. Fearful that this might ruin her reputation, Erin goes to Abby begging her to take the book down. Abby agrees to this only if Erin investigates a building with her and fellow oddball genius Jillian Holtzman (a perfect Kate McKinnon.) Man, with friends like that, who needs enemies?
Of course, they go to the building, find a ghost, and stupidly film their reactions for a YouTube video. This realistically gets Erin fired, only leaving her “friends” to go to. Seeing a rise in paranormal happenings, the trio set up a ghostbusting service, adding on MTA worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones providing another fun performance) and stupid-yet-sexy Kevin (an enjoyably dumb Chris Hemsworth) as a receptionist. Now, the group must figure out why the ghosts keep coming, also dealing with the mockery of the city in the process.
The biggest problem with this movie is undoubtedly Kristen Wiig’s character. Wiig rules the mousy, self-esteemless girl who only wants a break, but Erin Gilbert feels like she should be in another movie. While the other girls are confident in themselves, Erin is unbelievably insecure to the point that I was asking myself how she got a job in the first place. She’s about to be a tenured physics professor, but plays the role like a 14-year-old girl stuck in the body of a 40-year-old woman, especially during scenes with Hemsworth, whom she treats like the popular jock on the high school football team. She never gains anything or changes by the end. She is a bad character, and I cannot believe that a woman co-wrote this film and said that Erin was okay.
As well, the first 15 minutes are chock-full of terrible jokes. They get better later on, but the beginning resorts to jokes about whether or not someone pooped themselves after seeing a ghost. The original film could be fun for both kids and adults throughout, while this one seems more geared to the middle-school set. On the positive side, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones give energy and liveliness to their characters, delivering almost all of the best lines. The trailers made Jones’ character look like an annoying “token black person” of the team, but in reality she is one of the best elements. McKinnon was also a riot, completely diving into the oddball scientist character. I look forward to seeing where she goes in the future and watching her old stuff on SNL.
The action sequences are surprisingly good here. They are all decently shot and intense (In a comedic way), and the ghosts are relatively creepy. The special effects team has done a fine job making the streams look real, and most of the ghosts are colorful. As for 3D, the ghosts actually come out at you, making this a rare case in which 3D actually helped the film rather than hindered it. Lastly, all of the original actors (sans the retired Rick Moranis and the late Harold Ramis) make cameos. Thankfully, they aren’t their film characters, but it’s nice to see them regardless.
Ghostbusters 2016 is about as good or bad as you think it will be. Some of the actors provide hilarious performances, while others are Razzie-worthy. The action is much better than expected, and the 3D is well-worth the extra cash. Also, stay till the end to see some really funny bits that didn’t make it into the movie due to time concerns. There is unfortunately some terrible sequel-baiting at the end, but I got over it. These girls didn’t ruin the franchise, but they certainly didn’t revitalize it either.
Rated PG-13 for Supernatural Action And Some Crude Humor