Did you watch Ghostbusters on TV last week? The classic 80’s comedy doing the rounds on the networks in light of its remake/reimagining/reboot’s largely redundant release? Then you might want to wait a little bit before watching this.
Paul Feig’s outing is not objectively a bad film, it’s just that it’s been done before. There’s nothing wholly revolutionary plot-wise, save one aspect of the climactic showdown, that distinguishes this effort at all from the original. Eccentric ghost-hunters aren’t taken seriously until its too late, ghosts wreak havoc across New York City, an ill-equipped Mayor (Andy Garcia) pops his head in and fast-talking science explains everything. Cameos featuring the original cast, albeit hilarious when it’s Bill Murray’s turn, and less than casual allusions to the machinations of the 1984 classic aren’t just fleeting asides or passing in nature. These instances are granted greater pause than almost anything else in the film, itself a nostalgia-laden flick too entwined in its much-loved roots to really carve out a space of its own.
The one advent distinctive enough to separate this from its predecessor is its cast – and they’re good. The four stars (Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones) offer a very different and gladsome dynamic to those who came before, none less so than McKinnon whose hilariously offbeat, madcap Jillian Holtzmann steals innumerable group scenes and the best one-liners. One of Ghostbusters’ few saving graces, McKinnon’s quip when being crushed by the now iconic Marshmallow Man or her gallivanting about the lab will challenge even the most hardened of skeptics not to come away with a smile on their face.
Too making the most of the material is Chris Hemsworth as the incorrigibly dense secretarial heartthrob Kevin. In a film heralded for challenging typical gender roles it’s Hemsworth who is visibly having the most fun with his uncustomary casting, milking his ditzy help for all its worth and adding in some of the film’s sparse subversive elements. Notably lacking in the re-do and one of the few hallmarks of the original that did not fully make it across to the 21st century, Ivan Reitman’s 1984 mega-success excelled in combining the campy, kooky quality of adolescent adventures with the sensibilities of the older Caddyshack and Blues Brothers veterans, oozing out their disruptive edges like the slime clogging the cracks in 32nd Street.
Appealing to young and old alike, such a quality was lacking in large measure this time around, the Ghostbusters seemingly more keen to trot out the old gear and remind us that we saw a good film some decades ago. It’s unfortunate for such talented performers as Wiig and McCarthy who only five years past, like their counterparts before them, broke out in a frightfully good, original comedy (Bridesmaids), itself not afraid to be a little more evocative, with McCarthy going on to champion a number of similarly innovative hits.
If you haven’t seen the original Ghostbusters, you will more than enjoy this; it’s fun, theme-park ready and owes no small debt to the likes of Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson. But do yourself a favour and go see Ivan Reitman’s directorial effort instead, it’s just as good today, and still abundantly original.
Ghostbusters is in cinemas now