Movie review: Female leads a non-issue for 'Ghostbusters'
The hoopla surrounding the remake of “Ghostbusters” will be remembered more than the movie itself. Many fans were opposed to the idea of touching the 1984 comedy classic. A small-but-unnerving section of these fans were opposed to the idea of remaking the film with female leads. These idiots got so vocal that they seemed to speak for all detractors of the remake. This didn’t sit well with other detractors, who wanted to bash the remake without seeming like sexist simpletons. Hating the movie became a thorny issue, but so did praising it, because detractors on both sides believed that good reviews were just the critics’ way of sidestepping the controversy.
I’d like to say that I respect everybody’s honest opinion in the matter, but the truth is I don’t. Oh, I can respect opinions all over the spectrum for people who see the movie and give it a chance. If you think this movie is great, I can’t say I share your enthusiasm, but I respect that opinion. If you think this movie fails, I think you’re discounting a few good laughs, but I respect that opinion. But if you think that this movie is already a failure simply because it exists or because it has four female comedic powerhouses as its leads, then I resent your opinion.
OK, on to the movie itself. Our team this time played by Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. The first three are college professors who get fired over their controversial paranormal beliefs. The latter is a subway attendant who joins them when she’s confronted with undeniable evidence that ghosts exist. The team dons an arsenal of ghost-fighting gizmos and set out to contain spirits set free by a creepy guy named Rowan (Neil Casey). Rowan is supposed to be an outcast loser, but he’s no weirder than most people you’ll see walking down the street in NYC, myself included. The character gets juicier once he starts inhabiting the body of the Ghostbusters’ idiot receptionist played by Chris Hemsworth, which is a good thing because Hemsworth was not faring well with the dumb hunk jokes he was being given up to that point. By the way, I think Rowan should at least consider ending his plan once he’s in Hemsworth’s body. Forget destroying the city pal, you have the body of 2014’s Sexiest Man Alive, call it a day.
The film reunites Wiig and McCarthy with “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig. It has a lot of the same pluses and minuses as that movie. The pluses mostly involve the chemistry among the leads in early scenes. Wiig and McCarthy are proven, and McKinnon seems right at home. I was worried that Jones would rely too much on the hostile, excitable persona that she’s created for herself on “SNL,” but she’s actually quite pleasant (perhaps unrealistically pleasant compared with some of the people I’ve seen in her line of work). The minuses are largely a series of pacing issues. Time spent on gratuitous ad-libbing could have been better spent developing minor characters or exploring the exciting supernatural world that’s been created. Unique to this movie is a collection of cameos from the original film, conventional to the point that I was able to predict exactly when one of them would show up.
Was it a wise idea to remake “Ghostbusters?” Not really. A lot of controversy was stirred up over a movie that is funny in places, but is vastly inferior to the original. Of course, a lot of that controversy was stupid so it shouldn’t matter, but it was a chore to endure for a movie this middling. I’m glad that in 2016 we have a decent female-centric comedy where every other joke isn’t about how hard it is to get a man (which is what some thought this movie would be), but this film needed another round of editing to be truly worthy of the iconic franchise.
Two Stars out of Five
“Ghostbusters” is rated PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor. Its running time is 116 minutes.
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