By HEATHER TURK
Front Row Features Film Critic
It’s hard to believe that the same year we have a female presidential candidate, many moviegoers have been up in arms over an all-female “Ghostbusters” reboot. Sure, the 1984 film is a beloved classic, but nothing in Hollywood is sacred these days and the actors—or should I say, actresses—assembled for Sony’s potential summer blockbuster seemed promising enough that audiences should have at least given the film a chance before spreading any negativity on the Internet. If the majority of the original cast could support a female-driven installment of the franchise, why couldn’t fans?
Now that “Ghostbusters” is finally in theaters, it’s only natural to wonder if all the early Internet criticism was deserved. And while the film might not live up to the original “Ghostbusters,” it’s far from the worst movie of the year.
Just as Professor Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is up for tenure at Columbia University, her past as a paranormal enthusiast comes back to haunt her when her former partner, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), starts selling copies of a book they wrote about ghosts being real online. After being approached at work to investigate a local house that’s supposedly haunted, Erin goes to visit Abby to ask her to stop selling their book before her reputation as a respected physics professor is ruined. Abby agrees so long as Erin introduces her and her new partner, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon doing her best Doc Brown impression), to the man who approached Erin about the haunted manor. When the trio arrives at the house, they discover that it actually is haunted and their video of the ghostly encounter goes viral—causing Erin to lose her job.
Now unemployed and with a renewed interest in paranormal activity, Erin joins forces with Abby and Jillian to track down the ghost who got away. They soon discover, though, that their ghost isn’t the only spirit wandering around Manhattan. When a local subway worker, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), has a ghostly encounter of her own, she joins the team to get to the root of the city’s new ghost problem and save New York from an otherworldly threat.
Although the movie starts to feel a bit long during its final act, for the most part director/co-writer Paul Feig’s (“Spy”) take on “Ghostbusters” is pretty fun to watch. Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon and Jones all have a natural chemistry together, and Chris Hemsworth as their hunky, dimwitted secretary Kevin complements the foursome nicely. Typical of most comedies, though, a lot of the film’s best jokes were already given away in the trailers, so audiences can’t help but feel slightly disappointed that they’re not laughing nonstop given the all-star comedic lineup.
While Wiig, McCarthy and Hemsworth get their fair share of laughs, the true breakout stars of the movie are current “Saturday Night Live” cast members McKinnon and Jones. In fact, Kate “crazy eyes” McKinnon steals most scenes without so much as saying a word. The cameos by most of the original “Ghostbusters” cast, including Bill Murray as supernatural skeptic Martin Heiss, are also well done, particularly the one appearance saved for the film’s closing credits.
Even though the special effects may not be as impressive as some of Hollywood’s other big-budget blockbusters, they fit well within the context of the film and aren’t so cheesy that they distract from the story being told. At the very least, fans will be happy to see Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man again, however brief their appearances might be.
Despite a few moments that fall flat, “Ghostbusters” is a spirited reboot that deserves a fair chance. Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon and Jones show a lot of promise together, so hopefully audiences turn out for the supernatural comedy as there’s a post-end-credits scene that sets up a sequel quite nicely.