There’s something strange in the neighborhood, and, no, it certainly don’t look good for fans of the original Ghostbusters film. The new remake is bad … scary bad … and that’s a huuuge disappointment, especially considering the immense amount of talent involved with this picture.
2016’s Ghostbusters might go down in history as the movie where Hollywood became completely unhinged in regards to rebooting and subsequently destroying old material. This is a movie that was never needed and should have never been made. If it had been a sequel with some sort of connection to the previous films it potentially could have been amusing, but this unfunny and ill-conceived reboot is simply baffling.
For some perspective regarding my objectivity to this movie let me say that despite a ton of pre-release negativity, most of which I’ve tried to avoid, I had high hopes for this film and was really looking forward to it. I love the four lead actresses/comedians who star in it and thought an all-girl ghostbusting team was a great idea. Director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) seemed a logical choice to helm the picture and the franchise has a history of awesomeness. How could it possibly go wrong?
The first film was a complete original (well, it probably owed a debt to the old Abbott & Costello monster movies, but still), it was full of heart, and, most importantly, it was hilariously funny – everything that the new movie is not. When I was stationed in the Philippines in the ’80s, I saw a Tagalog spoof of Ghostbusters, called Goatbusters, that was actually more entertaining than this new film.
If you’ve seen the first movie then you already know the plot, and any changes here are simply superficial and forced so that it’s not a complete and utter rip-off. A group of scientists, Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig ), Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and one outsider, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), find themselves teaming up to capture ghosts that are causing otherworldly mayhem in New York City; and they are eventually tasked with saving the world from an evil spirit in super-heroic style.
The film has mundane cameos by the 1984 original cast members: Bill Murray, Annie Potts, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver; and astute fans will notice the late Harold Ramis as a statue. You’ll also see Andy Garcia as NYC’s mayor (who has one of the very few funny lines in the movie) and Saturday Night Live’s Cecily Strong as his assistant; Ed Begley Jr. as a mansion owner and Silicon Valley’s Zach Woods as a tour guide. Even Ozzy Osbourne makes a ridiculous appearance. The highlight performance is by Chris Hemsworth, who plays the Ghostbusters’ dimwitted assistant, Kevin. He does a great job at the slapstick humor and provides an occasional laugh.
Oh, and lest I forget the other stars of this film, the products, including Papa John’s Pizza, 7-11 and Pringles. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a movie where product placement advertising is used so blatantly and is such a detriment to the overall film (which was already a catastrophe.) I was incensed by an extended Pringles scene with Kate McKinnon and I actually felt sorry for her as an actress.
And speaking of Kate McKinnon (whom I love on Saturday Night Live), her character of Jillian Holtzmann had potential to be the biggest nerd sex-symbol since Velma Dinkley; but instead you end up dreading her every annoying screen appearance. It’s a completely squandered opportunity that I blame on the writers, Feig and Katie Dippold.
There’s really not much good to say here. Hemsworth was okay, and the ghost that replaces the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in the climax looked kinda cool; but the film was flat-out aggravating and left me wishing I had just stayed home and watched the original again.
In the last line of the movie Kristen Wiig’s character says something to the effect of, “that’s not a terrible thing,” which is sure to go down as one of the most ironic statements in cinematic history, because this film is all kinds of terrible and you are likely to walk out of the theater feeling like you’re the one who’s been slimed. Grade: 3/10
Photos © 2016 Sony Pictures