Ghostbusters (2016)
Ghostbusters (2016)

Genre: Sci-Fi Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 56 min.

Release Date: July 15th, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Paul Feig Actors: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Zach Woods, Ed Begley Jr., Bill Murray, Andy Garcia, Cecily Strong

 


 

A

fter casting aside her lifelong dream of scientifically verifying the existence of the supernatural, physics professor Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) now focuses all of her efforts on gaining tenure at Columbia University in New York City. But she’s expelled from her job when former friend and colleague Abigail Yates (Melissa McCarthy), an expert in metaphysics, involves her in a rather public expedition to capture a ghost in a haunted mansion. The experience finds her unemployed but with a renewed passion for the paranormal – so together with Abigail, her technologically-proficient assistant Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), and former subway employee Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), who was recently confronted by an unfriendly apparition, the group sets up shop as the “Ghostbusters.” With a monopoly on the industry and an unusually high number of spectral beings appearing around town, they quickly perfect the art of nabbing the incorporeal. As the sightings rapidly increase, the Ghostbusters determine that something sinister is afoot, and must attempt to locate the source of the unearthly disturbances before an unspeakable terror is released onto the city.

There are so many homages and cameos and references to the original film that this remake practically demands that audiences familiarize themselves with the existence of the 1984 property. Ironically, that’s the last thing this latest incarnation should require; instead, it should have desperately attempted to distance itself from its predecessor – to introduce unknowledgeable viewers to a fresh take on the lighthearted tracking and apprehending of paranormal entities. But especially with its story, which so briefly touches upon the “why” and the “how” of identifying and capturing ghosts, this 2016 reboot expects moviegoers to be well versed in the business of ghostbusting.

Sadly, that’s not the biggest problem. The most disappointing component is the complete lack of chemistry between the leading foursome. They have scant camaraderie, no emotional connections, and zero repartee. When they do make jokes, they’re all of the juvenilely inappropriate kind, such as commentary on flatulence and bodily excretions. There are also a few pop culture nods and updated technologies, but the inability to land solid one-liners and the overdependence on sci-fi jargon really stifles the laughs. Despite fleetingly curious cat jokes or graphic design spoofs or the witty sexual remarks about hunky yet dimwitted receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), the role reversal gimmick wears off quickly. And when all four of the stars act as if they’re participating in different projects (McCarthy does her usual routines full of exasperating complaining and Wiig plays her typical tyrannized underdog, while McKinnon is the oddball nerd and Jones is the enthusiastic streetwise warrior), it all becomes hopelessly incompatible, with no one working toward a harmonious sense of humor.

“You have done this before, right?” There’s a lot of slapstick, but none of it is exceptional; disbelief is a bigger opponent than otherworldly scheming; the theme music is remixed and reshaped for modern audiences, though it only reminds of the much-loved, campy, dated feel of the original, which can’t possibly fit nicely here; and the special effects receive a boost of CG but essentially duplicate the ideas previously manifested. Nothing about this production is particularly thrilling or funny; it’s crushingly uninspired and very, very slow. Numerous concepts are entertained but drop off abruptly, including Erin’s backstory, Jillian’s resemblance to Q from the 007 films, and explanations as to why the initial ghosts are tormented souls of dead people but the later phantasms are gargoyles or blobby balls of goo. And there’s no sensibility to the designs or explanations – which matches the absence of passion and purpose. It’s painfully evident that writer/director Paul Feig just didn’t know what to do with the notion of revisiting a cult classic franchise.

– The Massie Twins

  • 2/10

Ghostbusters Franchise


Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters II (1989)

Ghostbusters (2016)

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024)