When there is something strange in my neighborhood, I know four women I am going to call. After months of negative online chatter, mainly from a particular group of men who failed to realize that Hollywood stopped catering to their generation long before they were making mortgage payments, Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters remake finally hit theaters this weekend. Updating the series for a new era of potential fans, while paying sincere homage to the original series, the film has everything one wants from a summer blockbuster.
In a season when many of the big budget live action films have been either uncharacteristically dark, or they simply take themselves too seriously, Ghostbusters is a breath of fresh air. A film that understands how to balance being both a comedic romp and an action spectacle. The fact that the main characters are educated women who are not afraid to tussle with the paranormal is the cherry on this delicious sundae.
The story focuses on Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) who is on the cusp of being approved for tenure at Columbia University. One potential aspect that might hinder her bid is the revelation that an old book, on paranormal phenomenon, she co-authored with her former pal Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), has resurfaced online. Though Gilbert gave up on her paranormal beliefs years ago, she is shocked to find that Yates is still conducting her research alongside and an eccentric engineer, Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), at a local college. After making a deal in which Yates would stop selling the book, in exchange for Gilbert introducing her to Ed Mulgrave (Ed Begley Jr.), the heir to an estate he believes is haunted, the three women find themselves face-to-face with an actual ghost.
Confirming what they had always theorised was in fact possible, the three women decide to go into business together to further explore the paranormal activities popping up in New York City. When one particular event has the ladies crossing paths with an MTA worker, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), with an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of the city, the group quickly becomes a foursome as they attempt to figure out who is behind these strange occurrences. Gaining more media attention, and their share of naysayers, the women soon find themselves at odds with the Mayor (Andy Garcia) and his advisor (Cecily Strong), who would rather ignore the paranormal incidents than have the city in widespread panic.
Sharply self-aware of its place in pop culture, including taking sly digs at the internet trolls who condemned it without having seen the film, but never taking itself too seriously, Ghostbusters does a solid job of forging its own entertaining path. The four women are hilarious in their given roles and prove more than worthy to fill the shoes of the previous Ghostbusters stars, many of whom make cameos in the film. Kate McKinnon in particular is quite a revelation. Given the most leeway to really have fun with the part, McKinnon nails every scene she is in. She generates big laughs while managing to make Dr. Holtzmann’s eccentricities seem almost normal in the grand scheme of things.
In a film where comedic powerhouses like Wiig, McCarthy, Jones and McKinnon are functioning at the top of their game, it is surprising to see Chris Hemsworth getting ample time to get in on the fun as well. Providing an amusing piece of role reversal, Hemsworth is a delight as the ditzy receptionist Kevin. He feels as if he could be a relative of the clueless blond that Bill Murray’s Dr. Peter Venkman was trying to seduce in the original film. If there is one knock on this new Ghostbusters though it is that the central villain, Rowan North (Neil Casey), is not as memorable as he should be. The film is so concerned with establishing the Ghostbusters themselves, that it does not give them a worthy foe. Fortunately, the post-credit sequence hints at correcting this in the next film.
A worthy entry into the franchise, and offering a nice change of pace from many of this summer’s lackluster blockbusters, Ghostbusters is the popcorn film audiences have been craving. It is a film that is not afraid to fire its proton pack to the groins of all those men who foolishly think women cannot kick butt on screen just as well as their male counterparts.