Review: They’re the Ghostbusters, Deal With It

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After a year of tumultuous online behavior, it was with great trepidation I sat in the theater waiting for Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters to play out. This is not Ghostbusters, this is the new Ghostbusters. And I’m really ok with that.

[Editor’s Note: This review will contain few spoilers but its comments are open season. Proceed at your own risk.]

Like any wildly hyped film, reboots in particular, Ghostbusters could have been a disaster of biblical proportions. Thankfully, I did not find that to be the case. I didn’t think Ghostbusters was THE BEST FILM EVER but rather a really good film that left me with a positive experience I was glad to have had.

At the start of the movie it appears as if Feig is going to pull a Star Wars: The Force Awakens and follow the same type of plot and emotional beats as the first film in the franchise. There’s the “skeptic,” two others working together already, and a fourth person who joins a bit later in the game. But thankfully, and smartly to my mind, Feig then breaks out of the mold making this a true reboot. Granted, I loved that The Force Awakens stuck so closely to A New Hope but not everyone thought so. I’m sure we’ll get the same two sides of the coin for Ghostbusters as well with some saying it should have been less like the original and others saying it wasn’t enough like the original. You can’t win over everyone.

But Ghostbusters won me over and that’s saying something. If you follow my work you know I don’t cover a lot of comedy and that’s because I’m very particular about it and so don’t end up watching much. And to be sure, 1984’s Ghostbusters was a comedy but I always saw it as sci-fi first. 2016’s Ghostbusters, while filled with the paranormal, feels much more like a pure comedy film to me. That said, I still preferred the more subtle comedy in the film (Kate McKinnon’s casual zingers, for instance) than the over-the-top physical comedy (Melissa McCarthy getting tossed around like a rag doll in the alley). It was high and low rather than an even keel.

While I found all of them unique, lovable, and charming, the characters needed some work. You could tell they were trying to get through a great deal of story and keep things moving along (which sadly also left me feeling like the third act was a bit of a bloated mess) but Kristen Wiig’s Erin Gilbert got the most characterization out of all the Ghostbusters. McCarthy’s Abbey Yates and Leslie Jones’ Patty Tolan got a little bit of care but McKinnon’s Holtzmann didn’t have much at all. She was very simply the quirky science nerd, which I loved, but it would have been nice to find out more about her. The satire of Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin was a good one but perhaps stretched too thin for how much he was actually utilized.

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Ghostbusters made me laugh, and it made me laugh a lot. Thanks to McKinnon, it also made me feel more bisexual than I have in my entire life. While she flirts a bit with Wiig’s character and Wiig flirts helplessly with Hemsworth’s Kevin, there’s thankfully no romance to be had in the film. While the movie itself may have been made out to be part of some big gender war, there was a refreshing lack of pointing out that these characters were female. (And yes, it passes the Bechdel Test with both arms tied behind its back.) While there were a few gender-specific jokes, not once did anyone, the Ghostbusters included, doubt they could do the job at hand because they were women. They just did it, fears and all (which is normal for anyone). I can’t tell you how refreshing and important that is, especially for the younger crowds that will surely be seeing this film.

Besides four women jumping head first into scientific and technical work, the other big standout for me from Ghostbusters is the focus on friendship. In one of the few breaks for emotional content, Erin recounts her youth. A time when she was an outcast for thinking ghosts were real. She finally found a kindred spirit, as it were, in Abby. And while they’re meant to be almost lifelong pals, there’s also a touching moment later in the film from Holtzmann. It’s played for laughs but any nerd watching will find it hard not to relate to finding people to care about, and who care about you, who share your “weird” passions.

The new ghost busting equipment is cool, if not upgraded a bit too quickly and often by Holtzmann (I’d bet there’s a lot of this on the cutting room floor if the quick edits reveal anything) but there’s no rules like “don’t cross the streams” to get hung up on. Basically, just don’t shoot your partners. The action scene in the third act may be a bit too much for some people but it’s very 2010s action film style and personally got me really hyped as a woman to see other women kicking butt in a “cool” way.

While this movie did break new (and sometimes confusing – ghost balloons??) ground, there were plenty of hat tips to the original film and perfectly placed cameos by the old cast. Harold Ramis’ comes in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment at Columbia as a statue bust. They were absolutely respectful to the original crew without being beholden to what they did in the past. Ghostbusters isn’t a perfect film, few are, but it certainly succeeded as a reboot. It gave audiences a complete story but set things up with ease for a sequel. And while you have to wait through the end of the credits to get that information, you’re treated to a full credit-roll’s worth of extra content in the meantime. This new Ghostbusters may not be for everyone but it will be important for so many more. I, for one, am glad it exists.

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19 Responses to “Review: They’re the Ghostbusters, Deal With It”

  1. MisterShoebox says:

    What’s this?! Someone has a differing opinion on a film that I didn’t think was very good and was in fact pretty “meh” at best?

    Quik! I must do the typical internet thing and call you an idiot and that your taste in movies is bad and you should feel bad! I cannot respect your opinion whatsoever because this is the Internet!

    In all seriousness, I’m glad that this movie will introduce the Ghostbusters to a new generation of fans. It might not be the Ghostbusters that I’m fond of, I may not like the movie, but you know what?

    The old movie still exists. I can go watch it to my heart’s content. The cartoons? Still around, still awesome. Ditto the comics, the video game, the toys, the shirts, the hats, the posters, GHOST BUSTERS DAH FLAMETHROWER (That one’s a big hit with kids.)

    I gave the new one a shot, I didn’t like it – but you guys did. And more power to you.

  2. I was expecting a middle-of-the-road, watch it once and be done with it kind of film… mostly because that’s what most comedies are for me and I so rarely see one I love, or even want to see in the theater.

    That being said… wow. I enjoyed this. It didn’t feel like a gluttonous retread of the original. I enjoyed 2/3 of the jokes which was a lot more than I was expecting, and overall I had fun with it! I actually want to see it again at least once more in theaters.

    I can’t tell you how happy I am that the internet trolls have not ruined this experience for me.

  3. Kryptoknight says:

    I saw it recently and it’s OK. In the end I enjoyed it. It is, however, problematic. There are a lot of spots where the humor fell flat and the message in the movie felt heavy handed. There’s a real problem with a lack of grounded, real characters. Also, while I LOVED Hemsworth once he becomes the baddie (I don’t think that’s much of a spoiler because you see him become possessed in the trailer.) I thought his actual character’s (Kevin’s) stupidity was way overplayed. Patty had several eye-rolling moments due to the stereotype they chose for her. Plus, the script probably could have used a little more work.

    Now, all that said, there was still a lot that was fun. I actually liked most of the cameos from the original cast. I LOVED McKinnon’s character. I liked McCarthy’s and Wiigs’ characters (Well, when Wiigs’ character wasn’t being super creepy towards their employee). McKinnon’s character was amazing. I feel like Patty had potential. When she was actually using her knowledge of the city she was good. I feel like she should have been more the straight man of the group, the every man. Holtzmann was the best. I loved the equipment. I loved the ghosts, they looked very much in keeping with the style of the original series. The final big fight scene was amazing. Did I mention how much Holtzmann rocks?

  4. […] in my Ghostbusters review when I said this film was going to be important to a lot of people? Also, let’s pause and appreciate […]

  5. Marion Drakos says:

    Certainly fun, not perfect, but neither is the orginal
    I LOVED that this story features women who are PEOPLE, not girls, not damsels. There is no plot about sexism or the glass ceiling nor are any of the characters a “courageous surviour”
    My gods an action comedy where there was no woman to rescue
    Just four smart people getting the job done

  6. VindicaSean says:

    My only real gripe about the film is one that I have to admit I’m torn on even making: where the original film (and the sequel) had a nice montage of the crew leaving jobs with full traps in tow, the remake didn’t do that. And that’s my gripe.

    Why I’m torn on that being a gripe is that, while the passage of that time that the montage allows to be shown would’ve gone a long way to selling the believability of the upgraded tech, not having that time pass also kind of sells the unspoken environment these four women find themselves working in: they’re working four times as hard for a quarter of the acclaim and recognition, and have to do so faster than anyone else in order to be treated like they deserve the success.

    So it leaves me on the fence. Hyper-competent women kicking all of the ass in a STEM-adjacent job, really quickly, vs. the dramatic and structural satisfaction of seeing them settle into the job before the big bad comes ’round.

  7. silaria says:

    I loved it, but I also noticed something else…

    A whiny manbaby playing with powers he can’t control ends up summoning an invasion of mysterious entities through a portal. A disparate team with particular powers, including Chris Hemsworth, comes together to stop it. They succeed by throwing a nuke through the portal.

    No spoilers here! I’m talking about the Avengers.

  8. Rick Bman says:

    I thought it was ridiculously fun. I haven’t seen my wife laugh this hard at a movie in a long time.

    The cast was great, McKinnon was definitely the stand out though.

    I loved the cameos. Dan Aykroyd’s cab driver was the best though. That is exactly how a NYC cab drive would react. “I don’t go to Chinatown, I don’t drive wackos, and I ain’t afraid of no ghost.”

  9. someladyontheinternet says:

    Just saw it. I enjoyed it but I felt like the writing was pretty weak. The performances saved the movie from being completely boring. McKinnon was a joy, by the way. I loved her so much. Overall, I think Bridesmaids was funnier. I think this movie could have been improved with less scripted dialogue and just letting the actors take over the scenes.

    By the way, my fan theory is that this Ghostbusters exists in a multiverse with the other one. In this one, Venkman and everyone just took different career paths.

    By the way, 3D was disgusting and fun.

  10. That Which Dreams says:

    Just finished watching it, and the thing that struck me most about it….I recognized most of the crew from Other Space in Ghostbusters. The main antagonist, the delivery boy, the first ghost, and a couple of ancillary characters.

  11. marysueme says:

    I took my 9yo son, and I won’t lie, I was very excited to ask him when it was done, “Who’s your favorite Ghostbuster?” Me with my feminist heart nearly bursting at the thought of him having a cool, fun female hero (other than myself, of course). The kid says, “Kevin. He can dance!” :sigh: I can’t argue with the kid. Hemsworth looks good dancing.

    First viewing, I could not take my eyes of Holzman, but I reserve the right to change my mind. Patty might be my fave next time ;)

  12. Superdude1992 says:

    It’s actually a lot like The Force Awakens in other ways too. Both movies are reboots of beloved (and mishandled to a certain extent) franchises with modern sensibilities that will bring in a new audience. I don’t think it’s AS good as The Force Awakens, but I’ll give it all the credit in the world for not being a lazy retread and instead daring to break some new ground.

  13. Social Justice Kamen Rider says:

    Yay! :D