Film Review: Ghostbusters

I’m sure that everyone’s heard of the all-female remake of classic 1984 film Ghostbusters by now.  I’m not a massive fan of the original – as in, I watched it once when I was about ten and can’t remember anything about it beyond the obvious – and although I agree that there is a lazy tendency for Hollywood to endlessly remake successful films from its back catalogue, I’m not of the opinion that Ghostbusters is one such film that defies reinvention.

ghostbusters
Image credit: Ghostbusters, 2016

In fact, giving four female actresses starring roles in a film that doesn’t focus on their relationships or marital status – gasp! – surely must be pretty revolutionary for an industry that assumes that men are uninterested in female-fronted films.

But enough of the gender politics behind Ghostbusters: let’s focus on the merits of the film itself.  Columbia professor Erin (Kristin Wiig) is up for tenure, and is faced with the unpleasant resurfacing of her long-hidden book about ghosts, penned with her research partner Abby (Melissa McCarthy).  Unpleasantly embarrassing, of course, because ghosts aren’t real.  Or are they?  Joined by Abby’s eccentric – and hilarious – co-worker Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and self-assured science newbie Patty (Leslie Jones), the Ghostbusters are a successful quartet, fighting malevolent ghosts all over New York City.  From its effectually spooky haunted house beginning to the predictable apocalyptic ghost-y scenario over which the Ghostbusters must triumph, the film is crammed with witticisms.

It was an undoubtedly enjoyable two hours, and the issue of real-world scepticism infused the film with a thought-provoking and humorous side-plot: the Mayor who continually denies the presence of ghosts.  Out of the Ghostbusters themselves, I was newly impressed with McCarthy’s performance (after having found her widespread appeal a little overrated since her star turn in Bridesmaids), reliably pleased with Wiig (as usual) and appreciative of McKinnon, whose inconvenient crisp-eating antics was only one of her many laughs.  The comedic potential of Jones, however, was masked by the patently unfunny script, which noticeably failed when it came to creating her character.  Chris Hemsworth, as the incomparably stupid eye-candy receptionist, also shines in a great display of reverse-sexism.  It’s not side-splitting and the trajectory of Ghostbusters is fairly conventional from beginning to end (with a rather banal villain at the centre of the plot), but it certainly stands on its own as a likeable comedy, ectoplasm and all.

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