Here we go Internet. This is a movie that you’ve collectively paid a whole lot of attention to, and I get the chance to review the movie for you today. It’s Ghostbusters, the 2016 reboot of the classic Dan Aykroyd creation. And the end result…. isn’t good. Like, it’s pretty bad guys. And I really hate to say that, because I really wanted this film to succeed. I like the cast members. I like the director. And I like the Ghostbusters. And I really don’t like the tone of Internet hate that the people who made this film are receiving (seriously, neanderthals, just stop it). But this still isn’t a very funny film. Or a good one.
Ghostbusters tells the story of, surprisingly, 4 ladies – 3 scientists and a subway worker – who form a group dedicated to ridding New York of supernatural entities, aka Ghosts. They bust Ghosts guys, you know how this works. While their work is ridiculed by the good people of YouTube and the academic community, the Ghostbusters must fight to prevent a lone wolf from increasing the supernatural activity in New York by some method that I kind of missed because it was a 2 beers kind of movie and I ducked out for a refill during the explanation. Fairly sure it was all techno-babble anyway.
“Shut up about the polarity of your cannister please. Where’s the Stay Puft man at?”
– A very serious critic
The problems I had with this movie probably weren’t to do with the cast, let’s just reiterate that again. While Melissa McCarthy can sometimes be hit-or-miss, when she hits she is a fantastically funny comedian (and she’s generally hit in all of her films with director Paul Feig, including Bridesmaids and Spy) and Kristen Wiig is one of the greatest comedy actors in America. Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones both made their major film debut, but have been very funny contributors to Saturday Night Live in recent times and can be very funny.
The problem was the writing. The script was so focused on forcing the main characters into the stereotypes set out by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson in the original films, that it ended up doing a disservice to the performers. It felt like a drawn out parody sketch, rather than a film, with the laughs falling few and far between. Of the four main Ghostbusters, McKinnon and Jones fare the best, in the Harold Ramis “engineer” role and the Ernie Hudson “everyman” role respectively (Jones actually improved on Hudson’s role, but mostly because the original Ghostbusters seemed to regret letting Ernie Hudson appear in the first place).
“Hey Dan, could I get another line here?”
“What? Sorry, I can’t hear you over this awesome special effect I wrote in”
The result of that obsession is that the funniest character ends up not being one of the 4 main Ghostbusters, but rather the clueless secretary – portrayed in another gender-swap move by Chris Hemsworth. It’s a strange irony that the funniest character in a decidedly female-strong comedy should be a male, but that’s how the chips fell. And to be fair, I got a genuinely good laugh from most of Hemsworth’s gags.
But at the end of the day, blaming the cast is a hard thing to do for this film, when the direction was so bizarre. A lot of the cuts and jumps seemed very odd and jarring, and scenes consistently went too long or not long enough. It really created an odd flow during this movie, particularly in the middle act, and for me it made it hard to engage.
Some of the humour also was fairly infantile. The film managed to hit was I call the “Sandler trifecta” – that is, 3 types of jokes that I’d expect from a middling Adam Sandler comedy in the early 2010’s. They are – a fart joke, a joke about someone’s genitalia, and a Yo Mama joke. I don’t want to see that trifecta hit in a Ghostbusters movie. It just needs to be smarter than that.
The gold standard in comedy, folks!
Now, onto the villain. He made no sense. Played by another Saturday Night Live employee Neil Casey. His character is a bullied man who plans revenge on the entire world for not enjoying his sideburns enough, so he brings ghosts to Manhattan en masse, turns himself into an all powerful ghost, easily dispatches the military and then…. runs away from the Ghostbusters for a bit. It was dumb. People talk about the Marvel villains being weak, but Chris Eccleston’s random Elf thing in Thor: The Dark World looks like the Joker next to this guy.
It’s a strange day when you get nostalgic for whoever the hell this is.
So yeah, anyway, there’s some fun scenes here. But it just doesn’t add up.
2/5 – I feel like an all-female team of Ghostbusters deserve an infinitely better written film than this one.
ADDITIONAL MOVIE NEWS:
Hey kids! Guess what. My regular segment of Movie News isn’t on this article. Today I happen to have 2 reviews out, having explored a double-feature of films. So, to see the movie news, head on over to that other review for John Carney’s Sing Street that you were going to skip because you’ve not heard of the film. The link is here
Also, please consider following my social media, as this week is going to be much busier. As a special treat, there’ll be 5 bonus reviews from the Scandinavian Film Festival. So come and check out what subtitled films you should watch when they inevitably appear on SBS! Don’t miss out! You can find me on the Twitters @abloodycritic and on Facebook at “Another Bloody Critic”