Don’t be afraid of no Ghostbusters remake.
It’s hard to think of a film that’s sparked so much vitriol online, before anyone had actually seen it, mind you, than Paul Feig’s girl-powered redux of Ivan Reitman’s 1984 comedy classic. From a YouTube trailer that flatlined faster than Psy’s second single, to trolls who took aim at the film’s female ensemble, Ghostbusters has been haunted by derision since it was first announced.
This fact is addressed early in the movie, and later when the film delivers a self-critique as Kristen Wiig’s character notes, “It’s not terrible at all.” And she’s right, it’s actually pretty good, albeit fleetingly funny.
Ghostbusters isn’t the first “untouchable classic” to be remade and it won’t be the last, but Feig has wisely ensured it’s not just a tired retread of what has gone before, although he dutifully pays homage to the original with some distracting cameos (human, spectral and marshmallow), plot elements, and an effects-laden climax.
The idea is malleable (having also served an animated TV series) and refreshed here as an alternate universe version where the ‘busters are a sisterhood comprised of Kristen Wiig’s physicist, Melissa McCarthy’s paranormal researcher, Kate McKinnon’s steampunk scientist, and Leslie Jones’s subway worker. When you think it could have easily been Will Ferrell, Ed Helms, Adam Sandler and Kevin Hart doing the busting, the gender switch is a good idea, and one that works.
Following an encounter with a Class 4 Apparition and subsequent sliming, the girls are in business, complete with customised hearse, proton packs, and dimwitted receptionist (Chris Hemsworth). And given it’s an all girl group, there’s no danger of crossing the streams when it comes to saving Manhattan from a CGI ghost apocalypse unleashed by a bullied bellboy (Neil Casey).
In what’s basically the Bill Murray role, McCarthy is strangely subdued, leaving Wiig and McKinnon to provide the laughs, while Hemsworth’s himbo character is simply far too stupid to be truly amusing, at least until he gets possessed and has a chance to cut loose.
Leave your love of the original at home and approach this as a novelty cover version of an old favourite.
In cinemas: July 14, 2016
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon
Directed by: Paul Feig