1984’s Ghostbusters is a classic film that is loved by not only those that grew up with it and its sequel (and the cartoons, video games, etc.), but by fans of all ages up to and including the youngsters of today. I have watched this film with my family and friends on multiple occasions. In fact, it’s safe to say that I probably watch Ghostbusters six to eight times a year. It’s just that much fun to watch.
I still laugh at the same old jokes and quote the same old lines: “That’s a big Twinkie.” “There is no Dana. There is only Zuul.” “Listen! Do you smell something?” “Nobody steps on a church in my town!” and so many more…..
I still believe that Egon is the coolest member of the team and, as a result, feel terrible whenever I remember that Harold Ramis is no longer with us.
It was and still is a simply wonderful film.
After watching the 2016 reboot or, as it has been called with its digital and DVD/Blu-ray release, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, I’m not getting the same feeling.
Sure, I wasn’t expecting the Melissa McCarthy/Leslie Jones/Kate McKinnon/Kristen Wiig team-up flick to overshadow its legendary predecessor, but I was hoping that it would at least find a way to sink into the hearts of the younger generation as the original film did.
Don’t get me wrong, the film is enjoyable to watch for the most part. It opens in a fashion similar to the original, with an angry spirit scaring the bejeebus out of a tour guide (instead of a librarian) and the trio of doctors (McCarthy, Wiig, and McKinnon) getting booted by their respective universities after investigating the incident.
They decide to go into business for themselves and spectral activity goes into overdrive (thanks to a villain that’s is entirely too boring). They hire a ditzy secretary named Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), and pick up another team member whenever Leslie Jones’ Patty Tolan proves herself invaluable to the team since she knows the city (historically and geographically) better than pretty much everyone else in town.
From there they start bustin’, obviously, and uncover a plot by the villain to bring about an apocalypse on the city first and, eventually, the world. They also have to deal with a skeptic, a government cover-up, and a few recognizable ghosts along the way.
Scattered throughout the film are cameos from all of the core original cast with the exception of Rick Moranis, who declined to appear in the film. Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts all have brief roles in the film. Harold Ramis also gets a nod in a touching way, but you’ll have to be quick to find it early in the film. A few other celebrities have cameos as well, but I’ll let you find them yourself.
Jones’ Patty Tolan and Kate McKinnon’s Dr. Jillian Holtzmann carry the film. Patty is laugh-out-loud funny most of the time, and Holtzmann is bizarre beyond belief at times but manages to ride that fine line of not being too silly. Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin rides that line as well, but goes overboard a few times. His hunky dim-bulb persona worked well for the most part. Neil Casey portrays the villain in the film and, quite honestly, was boring. I wasn’t interested in the fate of his character, Rowan, at all.
Kristen Wiig portrayed Dr. Erin Gilbert who, ironically, behaved exactly like every other character that Wiig portrays in comedies. She’s a likeable vanilla character that draws a few laughs, admits her mistakes, and tries to keep the level of insanity to a manageable level. Like Wiig, Melissa McCarthy’s Dr. Abigail Yates has a personality that is the same as every other character that McCarthy has portrayed. She’s blunt, can be a bit dim at times, and can also put up a fight when necessary. These two characters are the weakest members of the team, and that’s not good considering the fact that the franchise was placed squarely on their shoulders.
The movie also seemed to struggle with wanting to be equal parts nostalgic, humor, and amped-up action that is so common in big budget films these days. Ghosts are literally coming at the foursome from every direction in the climax of the film, and the team dispatches them with often superhuman-like abilities. There was never really a line set for how far these characters could go, and that hurt the film in my opinion.
I appreciated the winks and nods at the original film, but they were executed in mediocre fashion. Also, if you’re not a fan of Wiig or McCarthy’s brand of comedy, there won’t be much for you to laugh at in this film.
Also, the only memorable line from this film in my opinion was “The power of Patty compels you!” delivered by Leslie Jones. I keep going back to her and McKinnon because they were just that good. Had the script and rest of the cast performed on their level, I would have loved this film.
One last thing before I sum up my review. The music is terribly lacking in this film. Fall Out Boy fell out on their rendition of the Ghostbusters theme (although Missy Elliott did her best at trying to save it). Ray Parker, Jr. has nothing to worry about, as I’m sure we’ll all be singing his theme song long after Fall Out Boy is long gone.
In summary, the film is just okay. It’s not terrible, but I promise you that I won’t be watching it as much as the 1984 classic. I really would like to see a sequel with a different director and writers, but from what I’ve read the sequel has been scrapped for an animated film and/or series. I’d also like to see McKinnon and Jones team up in a comedy of their own without the dead weight of Wiig and McCarthy.
So, check out the film if you’d like. It’s entertaining enough (my kids enjoyed it more than I did, so your youngsters might enjoy it as well), and I’ll probably buy it on Blu-ray sooner or later, but it’s not a must-see.
As always, thanks for reading. This is probably the harshest review of a film that I’ve done in a long time. I promise I’m not always the mean-spirited when it comes to films, but I just couldn’t let it slide with this film.