At this point, there’s a good chance you’ve already made up your mind if you’re going to see the new Ghostbusters movie or not. And to be honest, I don’t care. No one cares. You can litter the comments of this review with as many “I will never see this”es as you want – no one cares, dude. (And I will never read them in a million years.) If it makes you feel better as a human being to write something like that, man, have at it. This whole dumb, fake, controversy is just so tired. I am so over it.
Let’s cut to the chase: I liked the new Ghostbusters. If that makes you mad, then everything I write from this point on will probably make you angrier. If this describes you, then you can stop reading. Or keep reading and get mad. Again, I really don’t care. I’m writing this on a Friday, but you’re probably reading this on a Sunday. While you’re getting mad, I’m probably drunk on margaritas somewhere. So, I promise you, I really don’t care.
For those of you still reading, here’s where I sort of backtrack and apologize for the aggressive tone. It’s just been, let’s say, tiring over the last few months with all the garbage that has oozed up about a movie no one had seen. (I can only imagine how anyone in the actual cast and crew has felt.) And now that I have seen it, it’s even more unbelievable that anyone wanted to make a fuss about this new Ghostbusters movie.
In a summer of fairly dismal would-be blockbusters, Ghostbusters easily rises to the top as one of my favorite movies of the season so far. Here’s the thing: The original Ghostbusters is funny, but it’s more “action-comedy” than comedy. I hate even trying to define it, I just think of it as “a good movie.” (I am not a revisionist who likes Ghostbusters II. I think Ghostbusters II is a bad movie.) When I quote the original Ghostbusters, it’s lines like, “We had the tools … we had the talent!” It’s not really funny, it’s just a good line. (Okay, the opening sequence when Peter Venkman is shocking a student is really funny.) I point all of this out because I don’t want you to take this as hyperbole when I say that I do believe I laughed more during the 2016 Ghostbusters.
That can’t be a huge surprise, right? That Paul Feig, the director of Bridesmaids and The Heat and Spy, made a funny movie? That’s what baffled me the most about this whole “controversy”: If anyone has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to comedies, it’s Paul Feig.
Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is about to receive tenure as a professor at Columbia, but an old book about the existence of ghosts that she co-authored with Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) resurfaces, which eventually leads to a) Erin’s dismissal from Columbia and b) Erin teaming up with her ex-friend, Abby, along with Abby’s partner, Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) when paranormal activity is discovered at an historic New York City mansion. (Which was shot in Boston and looks like Boston. This never bothered me until I moved to New York 12 years ago, but other cities theatrically subbing in for New York just never look like New York. Anyway.)
Chris Hemsworth’s knucklehead Kevin joins the group as the team’s receptionist. Honestly, I kind of wish Hemsworth would eschew action movies and just do comedy – his few minutes even in the new Vacation were so funny. Soon after, an MTA employee, Patty (Leslie Jones), who saw a ghost on a subway track, joins the group with the promise that she can provide the team with a much-needed vehicle (and a serious interest in NYC-centric trivia).
It’s funny, I did kind of assume that each of the four new Ghostbusters would take on traits from the original four, but that’s not the case. The only one that’s even maybe close is Kate McKinnon’s Holtzman, because she’s the one who invents all the Ghostbuster equipment. But Harold Ramis’ Egon Spengler was more of a super serious straight man, while Holtzman is very weird and makes weird faces and says weird things. Also: Kate McKinnon is very good at playing Holtzman. (There’s a scene when McKinnon lip-syncs to DeBarge’s “Rhythm of the Night,” which is my go-to karaoke song. I didn’t think I could hold McKinnon in higher regard than I already did, but here we are.)
So, basically, there’s really no wiseacre Peter Venkman (speaking of, Bill Murray is in this movie a smidge longer than I thought he would be) in the new Ghostbusters. These are four wholly independent characters, which is good because it would have been dumb to try to recreate the personalities from the other films. But, having said that, this all makes it a little more jarring when the film almost pays too much homage to the originals. The film will really be moving along, but then we have to stop for another cameo or stop so we can see a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Easter egg.
I know the people involved probably felt like they had to pay some sort of due respect, which is a nice sentiment, but they really didn’t. This won’t fend off “the haters.” Feig and company have a pretty good Ghostbusters movie here on their own and I would have just preferred they had stuck with that. If I want to see the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, I will watch my Ghostbusters Blu-ray. (Which, when I checked, miraculously had not been destroyed by the “Paul Feig Annihilates All Copies Of The Original Ghostbusters Ray Gun” – a ray gun that, I think, was invented by George Lucas.)
But, whatever, when Ghostbusters focuses on the team and the characters (always Feig’s strength), it flourishes. It’s only when it gets bogged down in CGI ghosts that, sometimes, it starts to drag. But, this is 2016 and a summer action movie needs to keep moving.
And don’t think for a second that this new Ghostbusters isn’t aware of its misogynistic critics. There’s a scene early on in the film where the newly formed Ghostbusters read an internet comment that says, “Ain’t no bitches gonna bust no ghosts.” There are actually a couple of scenes that involve a member of the Ghostbusters reading internet comments. Finally, it’s decided that it’s not a good idea to read those. I think this is good advice for everyone. This new Ghostbusters movie will make a lot of people happy. And that’s all that matters.
Mike Ryan lives in New York City and has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York magazine. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.