FILM REVIEW | Ghostbusters (2016)

FILM REVIEW | Ghostbusters (2016)
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones
Written by Paul Feig and Katie Dippold; Directed by Paul Feig
Review by Mark David Major

(Film blurb begins) Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat. (Film blurb ends) Even the studio blurb about the film isn’t making much of an effort…

Given the negative controversy surrounding the reboot of Ghostbusters (2016), I was quite interested to see the movie and draw my own conclusions about what, if anything, might be wrong with the film. The answer is a lot. My opinion is more or less consistent with the negative reaction though my reasons appear somewhat different. I did not laugh out loud once during 116 minute runtime of the rebooted Ghostbusters. The script by Paul Feig and Katie Dippold is mediocre. It does Leslie Jones’ character zero favors with the almost random way that she becomes part of the group (she basically quits her job and decides she is a Ghostbuster). The result is her reactions to all the weird stuff seems ‘off’ because her decision-making was unlikely and weird in the first place. The simple way Ernie Hudson was incorporated into the original Ghostbusters (they hired him) would have worked fine for Jones’ comedic style. The antagonist (writing and acting) is truly awful; I do not even know the actor’s name. I do not understand why Dan Aykroyd was not given a crack at this script. I am also confident if Harold Ramis were still alive, his contribution would have righted the ship before anything was filmed.

Contrary to the positive reviews, I thought a BIG problem was the casting of Kate McKinnon (whom I love on Saturday Night Live). Turning it up to eleven for a 3-minute SNL sketch is fine but McKinnon does not seem to understand (nor was directed) that you can and should dial it back a little (say to a 7 or 8) for a 2-hour film. In the process, she tends to step all over Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig’s performances, which is the only thing keeping the film afloat (especially McCarthy). McCarthy and Wiig do enough to keep me amused, if not laughing out loud. In fact, McKinnon’s tiresome attempts at chewing the scenery keeps pushing the far more talented Wiig into the role of ‘straight man’ so when she diverts from that ‘box’ (e.g. warning about the Mayor scene), her performance feels off as well. The cameos range in quality; some work fine (Aykroyd, Annie Potts, Hudson), one is OK (Sigourney Weaver) but the most important one (Bill Murray) falls oddly flat. Another is completely unnecessary (Jason Timberlake). Overall, the reboot of Ghosterbusters is disappointing because with a cast of this pedigree, it should have been awesome. It is not.

Mark’s Grade: C-

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