Nothing about the recent all-female remake of “Ghostbusters” could accurately be described as original.
But luckily for moviegoers, that isn’t a death knell for the film’s enjoyment prospects or even something to lament. The fact that nothing about the film does a disservice to the Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis penned series from director Ivan Reitman is by all means a good thing.
The aptly titled “Ghostbusters” doesn’t offer a shot-for-shot remake of the original Reitman film, but writer/director Paul Feig’s turn at the helm doesn’t try and stray too far from the formula that worked so well in the 1980s.
The film follows former best friend paranormal scientists Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) as they team up with eccentric engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) to investigate reported ghost sightings across New York City.
Fans of the original films will certainly recognize all the not-so-subtle references and plot points in Feig’s by-the-numbers screenplay, many of which push past the point of homage to a borderline unfunny insistence on appeasing skeptical “Ghost Busters” devotees.
McCarthy certainly is the biggest name attached to the sci-fi/comedy reboot, but somehow casts the smallest shadow in the film as the comedic heavyweight is outdone by all three of her ghostbusting colleagues over the course of the two hour film. “Ghostbusters” continues the concerning trend of McCarthy’s hit-or-miss career where – aside from “The Heat” and “Spy” – her best work comes in films where she plays a supporting role to a bigger star.
Wiig is solid, not spectacular as Gilbert, playing her usual everywoman fans of Wiig’s film career have seen from her many times before. But in the context of a larger ensemble film, the performance fits in well.
“Thor” star Chris Hemsworth’s turn as the Ghostbusters’ attractive and ditzy receptionist seeks to mimic his scene-stealing effort in the less successful comedy remake “Vacation.” However, the jokes don’t hit home quite the same this time around for Hemsworth, who’s game for ridiculous dance numbers and showing an inability to answer phones.
By far the best part of “Ghostbusters” is the hilarious “Saturday Night Live” actress McKinnon, who hammers home every punchline she’s given in the film with ruthless efficiency. McKinnon proves herself to be a future comedy film star with her performance in much the same way McCarthy became a breakout herself following “Bridesmaids.” McKinnon is the single best part about “Ghostbusters” and her performance is worth the price of admission alone.
Fellow “Saturday Night Live” standout Jones will hopefully receive a higher profile and more comedic film opportunities with her sidesplitting performance. Jones often can dominate a scene with her pitch-perfect timing and joke delivery with her slapping a demon out of McCarthy’s body being the single funniest moment in the entire film.
Director Feig has shown an affinity for drawing the best out of his female leads, most notably McCarthy in “Bridesmaids,” “The Heat” and “Spy.” Though his fourth project with McCarthy isn’t the best effort for either the actress or the director, “Ghostbusters” has genuinely funny moments from its supporting cast to still make it the most successful comedy to come out so far in 2016 anyways.
While it certainly isn’t the best use of a talented cast or crew, “Ghostbusters” feels like the best possible iteration of a remake/reboot of the 1984 comedy classic and something worth taking a chance on in theaters. Not every punchline will be a hit but there’s enough laughs for a night out, which is what these sort of summertime blockbusters are for.