The “female reboot” is unfortunately something that still stirs up a lot of controversy despite it not really being that big a deal. For some reason a certain group living out there in internet land react to the concept of a genre movie led entirely by a cast loaded with XX chromosomes, wombs and fallopian tubes by utterly losing their minds and take to the message boards to vent their unnecessary opinions months and sometimes years before the film comes out. Back in 2016, however, it seemed to reach critical mass with Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters do-over – a complete top to tail reboot that had the audacity to feature a quartet of leads that pee sitting down despite the fact that they were all proven comedy heavyweights. Things got ugly pretty fast with the mouth foaming, keyboard clacking, basement dwellers being seemingly unaware that all you have to do to scupper the release of a major special effects studio release is simply don’t go to watch it and a seemingly endless assault of review bombing, abusive comments and general disgusting behavior flowed forth.
If the issue was solely with the fact that that someone was rebooting Ghostbusters full stop and was claiming that is was the ultimate act of Hollywood lacking originality I could vaguely understand SOME of the vitriol (although the treatment of Leslie Jones was utterly indefensible) but the anger seemed to be leveled at the baffling concept that woman shouldn’t be allowed to headline special effects blockbusters at all and that the beloved original was now forever besmerched with the very existence of this female pretender.
It’s all bollocks to be completely frank and the final irony about this whole sorry scenario is that the final finished film isn’t bad at all, is actually pretty funny for the most part and even turns out to be a damn sight more lively that the “official” sequel released back in ’89.
Erin Gilbert is a painfully awkward Professor on the verge of getting tenure at the university she works at when all her dreams are KO’d by the re-publication of a book she once co-wrote about the existence of ghosts. The culprit is Abby Yates, Erin’s former friend who is continuing her research alongside terminally eccentric engineer Holtzman. In exchange for removing the book from sale, Abby convinces Erin to accompany them to a rumoured haunted establishment where they encounter an actual slime vomiting ghost which sets them on a path to all becoming full blown paranormal investigators. Getting a new place of business above a local Chinese restaurant and procuring the services of Patty, a subway employee who not only has an encyclopedic knowledge of the city but has also had a ghost encounter herself, the foursome have to stop the nefarious plans of armageddon obsessed dweeb who plots to hand the earth over to the realms of the undead with the aid of ghost attracting gizmos. Privately working with Andy Garcia’s two-faced mayor to keep tabs on the escalating problem but vilified by him in the press in order to maintain his credibility, the Ghostbusters strive to save first the world and then the public’s opinion of them by busting as many ghosts as they can.
Utterly crammed with jokes and more neon spooks than a Pac Man fever dream there’s a distinct feeling that Ghostbusters 2016 is desperately over-compensating in order to hoover as much goodwill as it possibly can and that’s not necessarily a bad thing (it’s somewhat churlish to complain about getting too much) but it does mean that it’s visibly ragged around the edges – however when you realise that this is another frenzied attempt by Sony to jump start another dead franchise into live the wildly fluctuating pace starts to make sense.
So, the good news is that for the most part this reduxed Ghostbusters team are quite a funny bunch to hang around with; but then with such a line up (which like the original has cherry picked a handful of SNL alumni) there’s literally no way this movie couldn’t engage the humor glands even if it wanted to. Yet despite featuring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones all ad-libbing for all their worth the big surprise comedy standout is Thor himself Chris Hemsworth as brain dead Male-model-cum-receptionist-himbo Kevin.
The garish, super colourful visuals of the movie completely and utterly awash with primary colours is fun to watch in a retina busting kind of way and the visual effects are given an extra kick by the rather cool effect of having the proton streams and spraying ectoplasm creep over the frame of the screen ratio and the whole perky tone of the piece keeps things moving nicely.
However, while being distractly fun while playing, the humor that served Feig so well in the magnificent Bridesmaids and the vastly underrated Spy (Jason Statham was a goddamn comedy revelation) doesn’t translate hugely well to the world of full torso apparitions and class 5 free roaming vapours and use of the still popular ad-libbing causes scenes to drag and splutter out well after they’ve made their point. The original film’s humour came primarily from the characters and didn’t rely so much on “jokes” as much as sarcastic reactions to the insane world of Terror Dogs and Marshmellow Men they found themselves in but here everyone goes on and on, like the editors couldn’t bare to cut their favorite takes. It has nowhere near as draining as effect as, say, Anchorman 2 but it does mean the pace of the movie is as choppy as a hyperactive lumberjack. You’re guaranteed to laugh (Garcia’s reaction to being compared to the mayor from Jaws is priceless) but hours after the film has ended you won’t remember a single quote.
Another thing that’s somewhat miscalculated is the painfully obvious deploying of jarring cameos from the orginal cast that are all as subtle as a sledgehammer root canal. Add to that surprise appearances from Ed Begley Jr., Charles Dance and Ozzy Osbourne and it all gets fairly distracting pretty quickly.
The point being is that while this “new” incarnation of Ghostbusters isn’t overly memorable in the long term, the reason for this are normally mundane factors such as a half baked plot and an ill-fitting brand of humor – things that have nothing to do with the kinds of sexual reproductive organs the main characters happen to sport. Maybe, just maybe, the Ghostbuster franchise isn’t meant to be a franchise at all and maybe the concept was only good for one flawless movie, but whatever the reason may be, gender is NOT the issue and anyone convinced that this is ever the case may need to reevaluate their way of thinking.
“I ain’t afraid of no Incel” may not have the same ring to it, but thanks to this whole unnecessarily controversial mess, it still seems to be necessary.
Still, pretty funny – hardly busted.