'Ghostbusters' runs out of laughs, thrills despite cast's best efforts
By George M. Thomas
“Who ya gonna call?” was a familiar question for those of us
who caught the original GHOSTBUSTERS in 1984. That film provided an oasis of silliness
along with a few thrills on its way to capturing the summer.
By George M. Thomas
Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones star
The current incarnation that features a group of talented comedians will likely do the same, just from sheer name recognition. After all, any film that stars Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, will likely attract audiences.
And for most of the first half of GHOSTBUSTERS, they deliver the goods in their take on paranormal scientists looking to prove that they’re not quacks and, in the process, make New York City safer.
For that first hour or so GHOSTBUSTERS, which focuses on Abby (McCarthy), Erin (Wiig), Patty (Jones) and Holtz (McKinnon), zips along with clever one-liners and broader comedy.
But when the Ghostbusters get down to the business of kicking spectral booty, it gets stuck in the slime that oozes through the screen in several scenes.
Give screenwriters Katie Dippold and co-writer and director Paul Feig (BRIDESMAIDS) credit for being clever enough to take the opportunity to poke fun at sexism and sexist stereotypes throughout the film as the ghostbusting team has to deal with a beefcake, dimwitted receptionist named Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) who they hire on the cheap, along with a myriad of subtle issues that come their way.
However, when it actually comes to hunting specters, the laughs pretty much vanished into thin air. Perhaps that was by design, but it diminished the final product as GHOSTBUSTERS builds to a cataclysmic event that doesn’t work.
The cast milks every laugh from the material given, but ultimately it isn’t enough. Surprisingly, however, most of the laughs come courtesy of Jones and McKinnon. The two of them pilfer any scene in which they appear.
Feig does plenty to pay homage to the original. The theme song has been reworked, and there are cameos, even unexpected ones by Bill Murray (which feels tacked on and not entirely organic), Dan Akyrod and Ernie Hudson (fourth Ghostbuster Harold Ramis died several years ago).
However, Feig’s reboot of this long dormant franchise feels more than a bit forced at times. The original film wasn’t a critical darling, but it certainly found its way into the pop culture zeitgeist after its release. With that comes expectations and, of course, pressure. Those factors inflict a little damage on GHOSTBUSTERS, but not enough to not enjoy this film for what it is – pure escapism.
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Chris Hemsworth
Studio: Columbia Studios
Rated: PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor
Running time: 116 minutes
George’s rating: 2 1/2 out of 4 stars