Review – Ghostbusters (Dan’s Take)

With Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth. Written by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig. Directed by Paul Feig. Rated PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor. 116 minutes.

Why are we getting a GHOSTBUSTERS remake (or “reboot” if you prefer)? For no good reason except the studio owned the rights and they could do it. It beats coming up with something original, right?

The movie is a mess from start to finish, not counting the green slime. From the opening jokes that fall flat in quick succession to an incoherent third act that has so many loose threads that a musical production number gets dumped into the closing credits, it’s clear that the people in charge had no idea what they were doing. Putting director Paul Feig in charge, perpetrator of “Bridesmaids,” “The Heat,” and “Spy,” guarantees that the comedy will be heavy-handed and often tasteless.

For those just coming in who are unfamiliar with the 1984 original, New York is under increasing attacks by ghosts. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (a relatively subdued Melissa McCarthy) are one-time friends who are reunited when they discover the ghosts are real. Abby has been working with zany inventor Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). They are soon joined by subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), who is attacked by a ghost in a subway tunnel. Where the original Ghostbusters were male, now they’re all female. Naturally the female receptionist of the first film is replaced by the vapid but buff Kevin (Chris Hemsworth).

While the new movie ups the ante on the special effects, there’s no getting around how inadequate Wiig and McCarthy are. The original boasted Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and the late Harold Ramis. (Murray and Aykroyd join several other members of the original cast for cameos here.) Wiig and McCarthy strain for laughs, but they’re few and far between. The breakout here is breakout “SNL” star McKinnon, who needs co-stars who could keep up with her. (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, perhaps?)

Which brings us to the third act. One of the demons has possessed Kevin, who freezes a batallion of police in a choreographed pose, which the film does nothing more with until the closing credits. Those paying attention to the details will note the movie marquees advertising films of the ’70s like “Taxi Driver” and “Willard,” while signs for Broadway shows are from the ’60s. There was obviously some plan for some sort of time warp plot with Wiig asking at one point the now out of context question “What year is this?”

This amply demonstrates the problem of the film. It was made not because they put a lot of work into telling an entertaining and well-thought out story. It was made because they could. This “Ghostbusters” proves, once again, that that’s not a good enough reason to remake a movie, but Hollywood never learns.•••

North Shore Movies has given this film a score of 1.5 out of 5.Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His most recent book is Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.


15 thoughts on “Review – Ghostbusters (Dan’s Take)

  1. Reblogged this on Radio of Horror Blog and commented:
    My Friend and fellow film critic who knows his films puts his review on Ghostbusters, but he only a MAN what does he know right. Cuz if you don’t go see this than the ter….I mean evil feminist have won.

    1. I have no problem with a female Ghostbusters. It’s Wiig and McCarthy who drag it down. Would have been interesting to see with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler instead.

      1. Dan part of what I said is a joke making fun of THOSE PEOPLE ……you know who’s to blame HELMSWORTH he in the Star Trek, Vacation, and Ghostbusters reboot/remake, and his little HELMSWORTH is in the Id4 reboot it’s their fault it’s a HELMSWORTH conspiracy

      2. Or how about a bunch of even lesser known people, instead of Hollywood juggernauts constantly? That’d be a refreshing change. Poehler and Fey are only marginally better than Wiig and McCarthy in terms of overexposure.

    1. This isn’t “Family Feud.” I get to express my opinion, not conform to what “loads” of other people “plus friends” say. You can disagree, but I find her dull and inert.

      1. Oh no, the majority disagrees with me. Whatever will I do?

        You need to learn that criticism isn’t like elections. At Rotten Tomatoes I currently agree with the pack (i.e., the “majority”) 73% of the time. Which means on roughly 1 out of 4 movies, I like things the “majority” doesn’t or dislike things the “majority” does. I still sleep soundly at night.

        And I still think this is disappointing movie.

  2. My thoughts cleaned up cuz no one bothered to do the research on what I’m calling out before someone just wrote me a nasty email on my face book page

  3. Thank you!!! It is SUCH A RELIEF to hear someone speak honestly about this movie, and not be bullied into siding with a political statement like so many critics on Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t believe the ones giving glowing reviews are doing it so much under their own steam as contradicting the negativity because, a positive voice surrounding by negative one automatically equals “I’m correct”, right? Wrong. If I didn’t know any better I’d say Hollywood is playing the political correctness game with audiences at the moment, blaming negative backlash on racism or sexism due to trolling, and turning deaf ears on perfectly valid and constructive arguments. They’ll dig themselves into a hole if they keep going, losing money in the process. Don’t believe me? Hands up who wants another classic – ANY classic – rebooted … I didn’t think so. Sequels? Actually, no to them too, as they’re nearly always disappointing, and ‘nearly always’ are bad odds.

    1. I can point to sequels and remakes that were worth it: “The Maltese Falcon” (1941, THIRD time it was filmed); “The Godfather, Part II;” “The Fly” (1986).

      But you’re right and it’s a point I’ve made often: if the only reason for it is “we own it and can do it” that’s not good enough.

  4. Honestly, I’m not surprised about this in the slightest. Sony might be a wizard with gaming and electronics, but when it comes to movies it’s pretty obvious that they have no clue about the industry nor do they have the competence or talent for it. Even if this film ends up being a success, it’ll more than likely be nothing more than a short-term victory. At this point, I’d be dumbfounded if Sony Pictures manages to last into the mid-to-late 20’s.

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