Action Comedy

'Ghostbusters' Film Review: They ain't afraid of no ghosts (or sexist internet trolls)

July 12, 2016Ben MK

With every reboot, remake and reimagining of a beloved film franchise comes the inevitable fanboy backlash, the preemptive judgment calls, and the comments about childhoods being literally and figuratively violated. Not surprisingly, director Paul Feig's take on Ghostbusters hasn't managed to avoid such controversy. In fact, it seems to have courted more than its fair share — and largely because it features an all-female, ghost-busting quartet.

With that in mind, it's no wonder Ghostbusters addresses the online hatred against it early on — and off and on throughout the film — turning it into an opportunity not just for meta asides and quick chuckles, but also for a bit of snarky commentary on sexism in today's society. However, that's not the only weapon in the film's anti-naysayer arsenal, because the movie also leans heavily on the very same thing that helped make Star Wars: The Force Awakens such a success. And, no, we're not talking about Harrison Ford and a dude in a Wookiee costume.

Like The Force Awakens, Ghostbusters is a film fueled by nostalgia. And like Peter Venkman swinging around a proton gun, it's something Feig and co-writer Kate Dippold wield to great effect here. You might even say that the film suffers from nostalgia overload, because whether it's the numerous callbacks to director Ivan Reitman's 1984 film, the cameo appearances by the members of its cast, or the way the new movie's narrative mirrors that of the original, Feig and company appear to have an endless supply of the stuff hidden up their sleeves.

Speaking of Ghostbusters' narrative, the film's plot has the feel of an alternate-universe retelling of the original, substituting Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones for Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson. This time, however, it's not a demigod named Zuul who seeks to unleash a paranormal apocalypse upon the Big Apple, but a creepy hotel caretaker (Neil Casey), who would like nothing better than to open a supernatural vortex in the heart of the city, so that he can usher forth "the fourth cataclysm."

Otherwise, the movie hits all of the original's story beats, from the cold open that leads into our heroes' first spooky encounter, to their ousting from academia, to their quest to legitimize their scientific work, all culminating in a battle to save the city from ghouls, demonic Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloons, and an oversized personification of their own famous logo. There are even a few fun, little twists along the way, the best of which is Chris Hemsworth's turn as the girls' lovable doofus of an assistant, who's more Louis Tully than Janine Melnitz.

Long story short, there's a lot to love about the new Ghostbusters. But what proves to be even more of a crowd-pleaser than the way it pays homage to the original is the chemistry between its four lead actresses. From McCarthy and Wiig, whose characters' relationship serves as the film's emotional grounding, to McKinnon as the team's resident, scene-stealing weirdo, to Jones as a sassy, no-nonsense non-scientist, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more talented group of comedic performers. It's just a bonus that they all happen to be women.

Ghostbusters releases July 15th, 2016 from Sony Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 56 Mins.

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