Ghostbusters - This Movie Does Not Rock - And It's Not Because They're Women!!
Dir: Paul Feig
Starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Sigourney Weaver, Andy Garcia
OK, so here’s what wrong with this Ghostbusters. And it’s not the women. The women are fine. Well, there of them are. Leslie Jones brings to this what Ernie Hudson brought to the original – a clear sense of being out of their league and stuck with a under-written one-dimensional role. Which is the only dimension Jones brings to the whole thing.
Which in many ways could be said of the film as a whole. The basic notion of Ghostbusters is a great one – a group of ordinary people thrown into an extraordinary (in this case, supernatural) situation which forces them to find the best within themselves and become genuine heroes. As a jumping off point, that’s all this needed. It could have gone anywhere. Where it goes is into an almost slavish reworking of the 1984 original. This is less reboot than homage. And if imitation is really the sincerest form of flattery – you can’t fault this film for sincerity. From its opening sequences – ghost sighting happens to innocent character (New York public library substituted here for a historic private house) to the Ghostbusters music kicking in, to our unconventional heroes being fired from their university gigs – this movie is almost beat for beat aping the original. Why? When it so desperately needs to establish some identity – hell, any identity of its own. And this is a pattern it sticks with more or less throughout. The hotel shoot out is relocated to a rock venue (with a terrifyingly bad cameo from Ozzy Osbourne), dark clouds form above – admittedly – a different gothic building in NYC, Andy Garcia is now the mayor – but his office looks identical to the last time.
And that scene is one where you really start to feel the lack of originality on display here. There are no “moments” like the original had. There are no great, quotable lines. No “Dogs and cats – living together,” no “Nobody steps on a church in my town,” – they do not come, they do not see, they do not kick its ass. In fact if the film had more balls (again, not a female thing) they should have gone for replaying Dan Aykroyd’s spectral blow job sequence, then maybe we’d be there. If they had Slimer going down on Melissa McCarthy – then yeah, we’d respect this rehash more. But they don’t. Instead they waste cameos – from Murray, Aykroyd, Potts and Hudson to the fire station HQ to Slimer – which become little more than an increasingly annoying series of winks. And why try a clever wink when everything on display here is already a nod to times long gone? And when you get to the sting at the end of the end titles – and the name of Zuul is invoked – you know that any possible sequel clearly has no plans to discover anything close to an original bone in this very limp body.
OK, here’s what just about OK with this Ghostbusters. Playing completely in her own grove, McKinnon is a genuine delight, by far the best thing on show here. Hemsworth is hit and miss, but more or less keeps it funny as the dim-witted beau-hunk receptionist. The return of the Stay Puft marshmallow man is pulled off in a smarter way than we ere expecting. There’s a nice Jaws gag with Garcia’s endearingly slippery Mayor. And to his credit, Feig does have a feel for the mood of the original, even if it feels like the work of a magpie as much as anything else.
Meet the New Ghostbusters. Same as the Old Ghostbusters. Just lacking the wit, originality, style and class. And no – it’s not because they’re women. It’s because all concerned have blown a real opportunity here.
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