Ghostbusters Review: A Great Cast Can’t Save This Dull Reboot

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After months of unnecessary controversy, the all-female Ghostbusters is here. Is it fans’ worst fear or a new team for a new generation? Frankly, it’s a little bit of both. Paul Feig’s disastrous direction, a script full of punchlines that don’t work, and a forced action scene in the climax spell doom for the remake. But there’s still hope in this cast. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and, yes, Chris Hemsworth are all up to task, managing to sprinkle in moments of hilarity between all the blandness inbetween. This Ghostbusters may have a slightly less dry tone than the 1984 original, but the cast makes it clear that with a different script and director, they’d be as iconic as the first team.

The skeleton of the film is about the same as the original. A team of scientists specializing in the paranormal come together to answer the call for all those spooked by the supernatural in New York City. They’re rejected at first, loved later on, then have to save the city from a seemingly endless army of ghosts and larger-than-life entities. McKinnon is the real breakout here, letting her lines fall out with a punctual weirdness that is not only hilarious, but fresh to the Ghostbusters franchise thus far. Jones is great too as a classic blue collar New Yorker turned Ghostbuster. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Hemsworth, the team’s incompetent Brooklyn hipster receptionist with zero skills outside of being sculpted like the God of Thunder. Wiig mostly plays the straight woman, but she gets a few of her classically kooky moments in before the end. McCarthy is the weak link if there is one, but even so, she provides a necessary balance to the team.

The strength of this talented cast makes Ghostbusters at the very least watchable. But there is a sense that they’re fending for themselves with their script and direction stubbornly refusing to pitch in. There are some fun cameos scattered about, but instead of adhering to the more stable tone of the original, the film feels forced to check boxes to satisfy the wide audience Sony wants this to attract. The jokes in the script are easy and safe, with Feig appearing beside himself in a comedy that’s not rated R. The essence of the climax is unforgivably changed from the marshmallow punchline of the original to a hollow, would-be crowd-pleasing action sequence.

So the answer to the question of whether women can do Ghostbusters gets the answer we all should have known before the film was even announced: yes. The male Internet’s rebellious sexism has failed thanks to these four remarkable talents. Sadly, where the sexes are truly equal is that no one can save a project from bad writing and thoughtless filmmaking. Grade: C+

By Matt Dougherty

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