I have never been a big fan of those 80’s classics everyone falls about for. Back To The Future leaves me cold, I’ve never seen The Goonies, and Ghostbusters was much the same. A movie that was a Friday night rerun on free to air TV rather than a landmark of my childhood. I have no issue with the film being rebooted aside from the sea of horrendous reboots, franchises and re-imaginings that it finds itself cramped between. I also enjoy Paul Feig, Melissa McCarthy and parts of SNL. Which is why it makes it even worse that this movie left me cold and disappointed.
Packed full of fan service, self demeaning and stereotypes, the rehash of the 1984 original film starts shaky, rights itself before entirely jumping the shark in a way the Fonz would be ashamed. The rag tag Ghostbusters are made up of estranged friends reunited by their belief in the paranormal as well as one of the friends new apprentice’s and a subway worker who has an interaction with the paranormal. They find themselves dealing with a growing number of ghost related activities as a deranged outcast seeks to release the paranormal upon an unsuspecting New York. Throughout we see the introduction of classic gadgets and the same growing camaraderie in the face of naysayers that was littered in the original. By the end of the film, it feels like the same beast as the original on steroids, the bad kind that make veins pop where they shouldn’t.
What the hell is Melissa McCarthy’s character in this film? I will reward anybody who can actually articulate any sort of character arc there. Kate McKinnon plays an eccentric tech genius, Leslie Jones is a streetwise loudmouth and Kristen Wiig goes from science nerd to… well actually her arc is almost non-existent as well, I think her hairstyle is all that changed. The characters can work well together and McKinnon especially is a breakout star here with her comedic timing while Hemsworth steals every scene he is in despite an awful script positioning himself as dumber than any human possible.
The film jolts and speeds through its run time as character development is glossed over in favour of cameos. Every time an original Ghostbuster or character appears on screen (aside from a subtle Harold Ramis) the film screeches to a halt, pointing at itself so hard that you can’t help but know you are watching a remake of a classic property. Much of the fan service was signposted so hard that it destroyed any scene it was in, from logos to catchphrases, the film cringed its way through it all. There was a requirement to be somewhat loyal to the original that they may have missed a chance to do something really interesting.
Ghostbusters is competent. It has a few solid laughs amongst its many misses, it is packed with mostly realistic CGI and each of the leads plays their part to varying levels of success and enjoyment. Where the film falls apart is in the writing, production and direction. While it may be important to have Dan Aykroyd and Ivan Reitman so heavily involved with the project, the film never fully embraced the Feig magic and is more often than not more interested to get a cheap laugh or tweak the nostalgia in the audience, failing to deliver anything but a by the numbers plot with weak characterisation, a villain who lacks any substance and an ending that destroyed much of the goodwill for the film and its actors I had left.