July 16, 2016
The first "Ghostbusters" was a classic American comedy film from 1984. Written by actors Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis and directed by Ivan Reitman, it was about three parapsychologists (Venkman, Stantz and Spengler) who ran a ghost hunting outfit in New York City. This year, a reboot of this film with an all-female main cast written and directed by Paul Feig is released.
Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) have been interested in ghostly phenomena since they were in high school. After a period of estrangement brought about by differences in career paths, they are reunited when they were called to investigate a ghostly sighting at a local museum.
Together with nuclear engineer Dr. Jillian Holtzmann and her prodigious talent for inventing weapons and New York subway employee Patty Tolan, they formally launch a ghost hunting business, later dubbed by media as "Ghostbusters". For their first major case, they track down a mentally-disturbed janitor of a local hotel who had been causing malevolent spirits to appear all over New York City. Never would they have guessed that this case would actually lead to a city-wide ectoplasmic apocalypse.
Melissa McCarthy was not annoying here as Abby, unlike her early films. She continues her winning run following "The Heat" and "Spy" (also by director Feig). Kristen Wiig is so geeky, so self-deprecating, so delightfully funny as Erin. It took time for me to warm up to the unorthodox comedy styles of Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, since this is the first movie I have seen them in a film. They eventually do hit their stride as the quirky badass Holtzmann and the loud excitable Patty. coming up with their own comic highlights.
The scenes with their pretty but dumb receptionist Kevin were so awkward and cringe-worthy. But only because he was played by Chris Hemsworth, the against-type casting actually worked to make this character hilarious. In addition, I found the scenes accompanying first part of the closing credits featuring Hemsworth were so embarrassingly funny. You won't see Thor the same way again. While this Kevin character could also be seen as feministic male-bashing, but I did not take offense because of the good-natured comic treatment.
Being a reboot of a beloved film, comparisons, fair or otherwise, will be inevitable. Most evident would be that the comedy in the original film was more subtle and mature, while the comedy in this reboot can be gross and childish. The disparity of male and female team dynamics and interactions are very clearly noted. There was none of the sexual innuendo and smoking which were prominent in the first film. The ghosts of this reboot had the same colorful and cartoony style as the first film, but the technological advance of 30 years is evident to make them look polished.
There was no mention of ever having a previous Ghostbusters, which may bum out loyal diehard fans. However, I enjoyed seeing many references to the first film, like the logo, the old firehouse, Dana's apartment building (now a hotel), Ecto-1 (now a hearse), Slimer and the Marshmallow Man. I had fun seeing the original cast members (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver) in cameo appearances, though too bad that they were not as their old characters. The late Harold Ramis was cited in a dedication at the end of the closing credits.
There was also a very short extra scene at the very end of the credits when the song faded out. There was a mention of a name which can be recalled from the first movie. Was this just another nostalgic throwback or was it hinting a possible sequel?
I had so much fun watching this light-hearted and happy-vibed film. I was actually laughing out loud so much at some pretty side-splitting silly gags. The interaction between the four ladies started off uncomfortable and rough. But as the movie got on, they really hit it off very well, and their individual comic styles gelled very well as a group as they spouted all their pseudo-scientific jargon and wielded their sophisticated proton-pack weaponry. 8/10.