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Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

(L-R) Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon star in Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS

For a multitude of reasons, there are those who want to see the 2016 remake of Ghostbusters succeed, but there are also those who want to see it fail. I was one of those people who was just hoping for a movie that would provide entertainment. While I’m not exactly a supporter of this era of constant remakes, reboots and sequels, I still watch from time to time as I just hope to find some kind of value. That’s what I wanted here, but that isn’t really what I received.

The film itself features a trio of scientists (Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon) and a lone MTA employee (Leslie Jones) coming together to battle the ghosts that haunt New York City. What starts as a small journey into the world of the paranormal, grows into a phenomenon that gains media attention and threatens to destroy the Earth.

What breaks this movie and defeats any sort of potential is the comedy. Since it’s the most important part, it’s imperative that this aspect of Ghostbusters actually be of good quality. Instead of getting something like that, we get jokes that are too simplistic and seem to be written by someone who has no idea what comedy and logic actually are.

There are some jokes seen throughout the duration of the picture that wouldn’t make sense in even the craziest of imaginary worlds. For example, having someone cover their eyes when they’re asked not to listen to something is flat-out stupid. It becomes even dumber when that same person answers the phone like everybody else does. There are other instances as well, but I think you get the idea when I point to how foolish some of this stuff literally is.

It’s generally understood that comedy is one of the most difficult genres in all of entertainment. That’s why it’s important to have people who can actually write it. It’s obvious with Ghostbusters and just about every other Paul Feig/Katie Dippold written movie, that writing comedy isn’t something that they should be trying. I mean, Spy was solid, but including Ghostbusters, they’ve pretty much whiffed on just about every other feature film they’ve written together.

Then again, maybe the blame goes to the performers. I know that Feig will sometimes allow his performers to improvise, so maybe much of it was their comedic work that caused the movie to fail. If so, that’s not a good sign for these actors. That’s especially true for the four leads since they’re supposed to be comedians.

Chris Hemsworth isn’t a comedian, but he is also a part of this underwhelming movie. Like the others, he’s fine performance wise, but also like the others, he suffers from the same comedic issues that do damage to the movie. The jokes that he’s working with are awful and illustrate the lack of legit comedy throughout any of the movie.

The only actor that was sub par in terms of performance is the guy who plays the villain. Why he was chosen will remain a mystery, but he’s completely forgettable and uninteresting. Creating an antagonist like this puts all of the responsibility on everyone else. That’s not usually a smart thing to do, but it’s even more foolish here.

What I found to be the most interesting thing about this movie was the lack of a reaction the cameos actually received. These should obviously be high points of the film, but outside of Bill Murray, there was literally almost zero reaction for anyone else from the audience. I mean Dan Akroyd got a smattering of cheers when he first popped up, but even that died out well before the end of his scene. Even the phrase “I ain’t afraid of no ghost” got absolutely nothing.

Maybe the audience was just worn out by the movie’s unnecessarily long run time. Or maybe the movie just isn’t good and took the life out of even some of the people who wanted to cheer for it. It may also say something about Hollywood’s constant reliance on remakes and reboots of existing properties. What if people are just getting tired of being fed the same stuff? Any way you look at it, not getting any reaction from the appearances of people we cheered for back in the 80’s says a lot about this remake of Ghostbusters.

With all of that being said, there is actually one positive that I took from this Ghostbusters. I didn’t know much about her before, but Kate McKinnon showed me something as she stood out as the lone bright spot. While the other actresses do what they always do, she showed that she clearly has more potential as an actual actress than anyone else here does. Due to the material being as weak as it is, I can’t say that for certain, but it clearly looks like the talent and charisma is there.

In spite of all of the controversy and trepidation leading up to its release, 2016’s Ghostbusters actually fails because it lacks anything resembling at least decent comedy. I can ignore the lack of structure and the performances are fine, but the material that the actors are working with is clearly well below what’s needed to be entertaining. With that being the case, you’d be better off just watching the original movies if you need to watch the Ghostbusters.

Director: Paul Feig

Melissa McCarthy
Kristen Wiig
Kate McKinnon
Leslie Jones
Charles Dance
Michael Kenneth Williams
Chris Hemsworth

Film Length: 116 minutes

Release Date: July 15, 2016

Distributor: Sony Pictures

  • Score - 2/10
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