Director: Paul Feig
However you go into GHOSTBUSTERS is probably how you’ll come out of it; somehow, there’s enough to either delight or annoy yourself to your heart’s content with relatively few surprises. If your goal is “fun movie, awesome ladies,” you’re golden, but if you go in wanting original narrative twists, character development, or a new and interesting mythology, you’re a little SOL. For me, the new GHOSTBUSTERS has several great and funny scenes, but Paul Feig fails to rein them into a single compelling narrative, reaffirming that comedies are not exempt from needing a solid story structure to succeed as a film.
Like JURASSIC WORLD and other franchise reboots before it, the 21st century Ghostbusters finds itself in an identity crisis between honoring the original and finding something new to do with it. It winds up primarily delivering nostalgia for the original while adding just enough ingenuity to make you annoyed that they didn’t follow through with it. Kristen Wiig’s storyline, for example, is cute but arcless: A physics professor on the verge of tenure has her career hopes dashed when her belief in ghosts comes to light, but whose friendship with Melissa McCarthy is repaired much too quickly to hold any narrative suspense.
The biggest plot hole was that they were constantly able to find parking on the first try
The switch from a supernatural villain to a human one plays more like an odd rehashing of BUFFY’s season six rather than a thematic choice, and given Neil Casey’s resemblance to the primary opponents of the film, I’m surprised they didn’t utilize that either. The technology created by Kate McKinnon, which is for some reason given two montage sequences, first overuses the “inexplicable scientific names” trope and then doesn’t even tie the science into the actual story beats.
I would love to set aside my love of the original and treat this GHOSTBUSTERS as its own entity, but the movie contains multiple references and cameos that won’t let me. I’m all for nods and winks, but the references would have been much more impactful had they been fewer and further between, especially as the new GHOSTBUSTERS is in so many ways very different from the original. Some cameos work, but others, like Bill Murray’s, play like clunky drop-ins. He appears for too long to simply be a cameo, but not long enough to have any plot relevance. His character’s fate has exactly zero impact on the storyline.
When you’re so done with Marvel’s bullshit you’d literally take a job as a receptionist instead
In a nice turn, the thing that’s made meninists angry for months is the best thing about it. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones can stay secure and then some in their comedic chops. Chris Hemsworth and the entire supporting cast are sharp (Zach Woods’s opening haunted mansion tour is beautiful), and the only bad thing that comes from their improv skill is that the editing room let some of the bits carry on too long. Unfortunately, the most memorable one-liners were the ones the cameos quoted from the original, which seems borderline disrespectful by not allowing the cast to stand on their own ground. Kate McKinnon especially had both a great character and great quips, and hopefully will start showing up in more and more feature roles.
As a rule, I can’t hate anything that makes meninists angry, and sincerely, representation matters, so if we’re going to have mediocre sequels, requels, origin stories, and massive cannon universes, it’s about time we get some women on the screen. Overall, it’s a funny movie but not really a good one, a disappointment when its predecessor was so successfully both.
*If you didn’t like the movie, it’s worth noting that the “All-female” Ghostbusters was directed by a man, co-written by that same man, shot by a man, co-edited by a man, and re-theme songed by men who made me plug my ears in the movie theater. So if you hated it, you have to hate the men, too.
**Also, a PSA, there is a post-credits scene, should you be so inclined.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend