Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

By Martin

First things first, I need to address what kind of viewer I am of this movie.  The news of this remake has caused a huge split in the viewing community; first by idiots who think the decision to cast women in the lead roles ruined the movie before it was made, and then by people reacting to those idiots, championing the movie before they’ve seen it to spite the idiot community in general.  So let me lay it out.  I liked the original movies just fine, I never thought they were life changing, but just fun action-comedy movies.  I actually grew up more attached to Ghostbusters 2 than the original.  I have absolutely no problem with Ghostbusters being remade, and even less of a problem with the idea to cast all women.  My main concern was that the producers would just lean on the simple idea of gender swapping the lead roles and not put any effort into making the story fun, exciting, interesting, or entertaining.  When I heard who they were casting and who was directing the movie, I stopped worrying.  Paul Feig has directed Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy.  All three of those movies are really funny, all three star Melissa McCarthy, and most importantly, all three are really good.  In addition to being great comedies, these movies all tell interesting and well crafted stories, and in my ignorant male opinion, tell them well from a female perspective.  I think Paul Feig gets women, and most importantly, he gets THESE women.

Ghostbusters (2016) is a well done movie.  In a broad sense, the movie hits a lot of the same story points as the original, but each of them is done in a unique way, and never is the quality of the movie sacrificed in favor paying homage to the original.  The movie strikes its own tone, different from other similar recent female driven comedies and also different from the original Ghostbusters movie.  It is very much a movie updated for our times not just in technology/visual effects, but also in tone and sensibility.  The main characters are all their own people, not just simple reinterpretations of the original characters.  The story is not a rehash of the original, but its new and different story, strong enough to stand alone. All four of the main cast are great.  Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon are all in fine form; funny, interesting and believable in their roles.  One of the things I really enjoyed about this movie is the emphasis on the science.  The motivation of these women is to prove their theories correct, and themselves valid as scientists, not just to make some cash because they lost their jobs like the original.

The weakest link of the main cast is Kate McKinnon as Jillion Holtzman, the funniest but sadly also the most one dimensional of the four women.  She adds a lot to the movie as her character has a bunch of the jokes and is responsible for the technology they use, but we just get little to no insight into who she is or what she wants as a character.  She is by far the most cartoonish of the main cast. Despite that, I loved the fact that they show her constantly re-engineering their gear throughout the movie as she notices what works and what doesn’t, exploring the possibilities of the technology like, you know, an engineer. The movie does a good job of evolving the story naturally, and the forming of the team doesn’t feel forced.  Another standout is Chris Hemsworth as the team’s receptionist, Kevin.  He gets hired because he is man-pretty but is so astonishingly dumb, he becomes hindrance on the team.  A lot of the negativity about this movie includes comments about how they made a guy so stupid he couldn’t exist in the real world, and they are just bashing men by making this character “too dumb to live”.  Yeah, that’s the point.  Take the idea of this character and change it to a women, then think about how many female characters are written just as thinly and no one seems to have a problem with that.  The point of the character is to highlight the hypocritical double standard between how male and female characters are written. Do you find the idea offensive?  Good, you should.  Now imagine that you feel that way with 90%+ of all movies and TV.  But I digress.

While this movie wasn’t life changing, it was just as good as the original, and different enough to have a reason to exist.  I had a great time, which was pretty much what I expected.  Does it matter that these characters are women?  Not really.  What’s really important is that it’s THESE women.  Without the charismatic interplay between the actors, this movie would really have little to offer.  But it baffles me that people seem to forget that the original movie is just a mild comedy.  It’s Stripes or Caddyshack, but with ghosts.  While Bill Murray, Ivan Reitman, and Dan Aykroyd were all funny enough in the original, if you didn’t like their brand of comedy, you would have hated that movie. In my opinion, the real problem people have with this movie stems from them building up this idea in their minds of how great the original was and elevating it to the point where it becomes holy, making changing it is a sin.  It isn’t.  It wasn’t even the funniest, most exciting, or highest grossing movie the year it came out (1984 saw the releases of both Beverly Hills Cop and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). 

All in all, Ghostbusters (2016) is a fitting remake of the original.  Was it funny? Absolutely.  Exciting? You bet.  Entertaining? Count on it.  I would definitely watch it again, and I’ll probably buy it on blu-ray when it comes out.  If you are already set on hating this movie before watching it, maybe you should skip it.  For everyone else, it’s a fun time at the movies.  4 out of 5 stars.