‘Ghostbusters’ is a mediocre rehash unworthy of its predecessor
PHOTO BY SONY PICTURES
Where is it playing?: Movies Lompoc, Parks Plaza
What's it rated?: PG-13
What's it worth?: $ Nothing
What's it worth?: $ Nothing
Paul Feig (Spy, The Heat, Bridesmaids) directs this loose remake of the 1984 comedy classic, but this time with female leads. Nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) join paranormal investigators Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) to try to stop a ghostly invasion of Manhattan. (156 min.)
Glen: Early buzz in the industry was that the new Ghostbusters was a debacle, but then came a concerted marketing campaign with glowing endorsements and fawning praise about how great the film is. To put it bluntly, they had it right the first time. This is a wholly unnecessary, mostly unfunny, mediocre rehash. What’s weird is you’ve got a director in Feig who’s scored some big hits with McCarthy—they have proven synergy! You’ve also got a usually talented cast in Wiig, McKinnon, and Jones. But even this quartet of gifted ladies can’t elevate this mess of a story, which focuses on milquetoast loser and occultist Rowan North (Neil Casey), who’s setting off devices along “ley lines,” which are supposed to release ghosts into New York to enact vengeance against society for mistreating North. Most of the film is taken up by the ladies capturing ghosts, being denounced as frauds by Mayor Bradley (Andy Garcia), and a running joke about how good looking but stupid the ladies’ receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) is. Despite cameos by the original film’s cast, the new Ghostbusters is a charmless waste of $144 million.
Anna: I’m a big fan of the original Ghostbusters that came out in ’84, and was thus a bit forgiving with Ghostbusters 2 in ’89. I was cautiously hopeful for the revamped and female-centric film, and man-oh-man was I disappointed. I don’t think I laughed once at the overacted, unfunny mess that is the new film. Paul Feig has done some awesome directing, from Goodbye Michael, Steve Carrell’s heartstring-pulling final episode on The Office, to The Heat, Bridesmaids, and Spy, all of which I found hilarious. I also love the leads in this film: McCarthy and Wiig are my go-to funny ladies who I’ll always say yes to. Unfortunately, not even a hilarious cast and talented director could save Ghostbusters from the fatal blow of bad writing and forced overacting. McKinnon as Holtzmann is particularly obnoxious as a larger-than-life character, her scientific smarts not outweighing her bizarre and unreliable personality. The fourth Ghostbuster, Patty, is a tough subway worker, whose lack of scientific knowledge is supposedly made up by her knowledge of New York and her no-nonsense attitude. I have a feeling that if this cast had been given the chance to improvise more and rely less on a depthless script, they could have vastly improved this film.
Glen: It seemed like the ladies didn’t know what to do with their characters. Wiig as Erin is up for tenure at her university, and the film introduces her as she discovers that a book on paranormal phenomenon she co-wrote many years ago with McCarthy’s Abby has resurfaced. “I thought I destroyed both copies,” Erin laments before she’s informed that the book is now available on Amazon. She hunts down Abby, imploring her to withdraw the embarrassing and unscientific book from circulation in an effort to secure her tenure. Erin comes off as insecure and unsure of herself, which makes you wonder how she’s on the brink of tenure at a major university. When the ladies join forces and they’re interviewing Kevin for the receptionist job, Erin becomes a desperate and inappropriate flirt. These are weird acting choices. You mentioned McKinnon, and I second that emotion. She’s great in short sketch comedy where playing broadly can work. Here her Jillian is simply bizarre—a manic, awkward nutter. Jones is OK as the old-school working class New Yorker, bringing some sass to the role. McCarthy seems to be relying on old habits, playing Abby as a loveable loser who can’t catch a break—a character we’ve seen too many times, this time with flat jokes. And Hemsworth’s Kevin? He’s a vacant idiot, wholly one-dimensional. They’re surrounded by some fine actors like Ed Begley Jr., Charles Dance, and Annie Potts, but they’re given little to do. There’s also a silly cameo by Ozzy Osbourne that felt pointless. I wish I could point to some redeeming quality here, but this film sucked.
Anna: The cameos by Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd also felt like a waste of time; they didn’t accomplish anything or move the story forward in any way. We also see Sigourney Weaver briefly as Rebecca Gorin, Jillian’s mentor. Again, nothing gained from the quick performance. The one cameo that wasn’t a total waste was Slimer, who shows back up to steal a car and party hard with his lady friend in the final ghostly mayhem. As far as villains go, Rowan is weird but hardly menacing. The jokes about Hemsworth’s hot bod are old as soon as they’re spoken, and the ladies prove to be neither charming nor funny. At the half-hour mark into this movie, I could tell any glimmer of hope I had for it was going to be quickly extinguished, and only a Hail Mary twist could save it. Unfortunately, that prayer for twist never came through and I was nothing but disappointed and annoyed when the film finally came to an end after two hours. If there were at least a few laughs or some solid plotline to be had, I would say stream this when it inevitably goes online, but I can’t in good conscience tell you to waste your time on it.
Sun Screen is written by New Times Staff Writer Glen Starkey and his wife, Anna. Comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.