Review: Ghostbusters, C
Rated PG-13, 108 minutes
The idea of rebooting the 1980's classic comedy "Ghostbusters" with an all-female cast seems like a novel idea on paper, and even more brilliant when you assemble a terrific cast of talented comediennes, a solid director and original "Ghostbusters" producer and director Ivan Reitman, who produces here. Considering all of that, this big-budgeted "Ghostbusters" is a disappointment, and most tellingly, underneath all that slime, it isn't as laugh-out funny as you might think. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) are a pair of unheralded authors who write a book positing that ghosts are real, though disagreements cast them apart. When ghosts invade Manhattan, Gilbert reunites with Yates, teaming up with a nuclear engineer, Jillian Holtzmann (a spunky Kate McKinnon), and a subway worker, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), to save the world from a mysterious evil and powerful demon known as Rowan (Neil Casey) who can exercise control over human forms. Directed and co-written by "Bridesmaids" and "The Heat's" Paul Feig, this female-driven, "Saturday Night Live"-heavy "Ghostbusters" is peppered with a few laughs and an appealing cast, though a terrible script, among other things, shows it lacks the originality and spirit of the 1984 film with Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, which is hard to top. This hit-or-miss update is a real mixed bag, some of it works OK, but most of it doesn't. The charming cast is good, though leads McCarthy and Wiig don't really seem to be into it, while the sassy Jones, who is usually good for a wisecrack or funny facial expression, is stuck in a stereotypical urban street character; however, breakout "SNL" star McKinnon nearly steals the show with some true spunk and energy, and she kicks some ghost tail in the messy, baffling finale. The nods to the original are also fun, and there are cameos from nearly all of the living original cast including Murray, Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson (watch for the Harold Ramis gold-plated bust), along with the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man, who briefly cameos to an unfortunate end. On the downside, Feig isn't a good fit behind the camera here, his script and direction all over the place, with a sluggish pacing, particularly in that worrisome, talky first act as he fills it with too many unfunny and unnecessary scenes of the ladies trying to acclimate themselves to their gadgets, something that doesn't exactly instill confidence in fighting ghosts. Also, someone needs to tell Chris Hemsworth, who is badly miscast here, that he isn't funny, and the villain, played by comic writer Neil Casey, is a forgettable after-thought. Strip away all the gadgets, the ghosts and the slime, and there isn't much left but the immensely likable McKinnon doing her best to hold the thing together. This "Ghostbusters" has a few enjoyable moments, but it pales next to the original film, which is still a classic in my book. As much I wanted to like it, this one has misfire written all over it.