|Image courtesy of Columbia Pictures.|
Let's get this right out of the way - no, Paul Feig's rebooting of the "Ghostbusters" franchise is not as good - even not nearly as good - as Ivan Reitman's 1984 film. And one of the main problems is that, despite recasting the picture with four women and acting as if the original never existed, the picture tries a little too hard to appease fans of the original.
So, we have appearances by Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man as well as some bit parts played by original cast members, but not as their previous characters. In fact, the scenes where the film tries to get the most mileage out of appearances by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and others tend to get the least mileage because it feels as if Feig's movie is throwing scraps to those who aren't that keen on the concept of this new film to begin with - in other words, it would have been better to just reboot the series completely without the nods to the original. Seriously, did we need a character to actually say, "I ain't afraid of no ghosts?"
That being said, the film is more often than not funny, even when it unnecessarily relies on an overabundance of special effects in its final 30 minutes. And it helps that the four leading women have great camaraderie. Kristen Wiig brings the dry delivery we'd expect, while Melissa McCarthy, although more restrained than usual, offers up her own brand of comedy.
Leslie Jones gets some great lines and even manages to rise above the ones that don't work as well and Kate McKinnon's Holtzmann is so off-the-wall that her character nearly demands its own movie. The supporting cast is mostly fine, although Chris Hemsworth steals the show in nearly every scene he's in as the Ghostbusters' hunky and air heady secretary. His job interview scene is worth the price admission alone.
In terms of story and character, this new "Ghostbusters" leans a little heavily on the familiar and cliche, although the plotline involving Wiig getting fired from her current job is certainly something to behold. The special effects are fine, although there are too many of them and they occasionally drown out the witty banter between the four women.
For the past few years, Feig has been the go-to filmmaker for comedies about women. "Bridesmaids" remains the funniest studio picture of recent years, while "The Heat" and "Spy," although not quite as fantastic, are also fun, genre-themed comedies. "Ghostbusters" fits in nicely with his oeuvre and while it isn't as fresh as "Bridesmaids," it's a great showcase for the four lead characters, who bring their own brands of humor, personality and screen presence to the proceedings. If nothing else, that makes this new "Ghostbusters" worth your time.