Sarah Robbins ’17
It’s pretty much impossible not to have seen the ads for Paul Feig’s “Ghostbusters” reboot, which hit theaters this July to an almost crazed hype. Many factors contributed to this excitement, including the original’s diehard (and skeptical) fans, the excessive T.V. commercials and billboards and the ensemble cast of A-list comedians, many of whom brought their own set of diehard fans with them.
The film is a reboot, not a sequel, starring comedy giants like Kristen Wiig (“SNL,” “Bridesmaids”), Melissa McCarthy (“Bridesmaids,” “Spy,” “Heat)”, Kate Mckinnon (“SNL”) and Leslie Jones (“SNL”). It’s set in modern day New York and follows estranged best friends Abby Yates (McCarthy) and Erin Gilbert (Wiig), who both used to be paranormal investigators.
Now, Erin has left all that ghost stuff behind to pursue a Ph.D. in “real” science. Abby has stayed on the path of paranormal investigator, accompanied by eccentric gadget engineer Dr. Gillian Hotlzmann (McKinnon). Eventually, the three women are joined by Patty Nolan (Jones), an MTA officer who’s fed up by the recent “activity” in the New York subway system.
If you’ve watched the original “Ghostbusters,” then the plot of the second won’t come as a surprise. It’s essentially the same. However, it’s important to note that the reboot bends gender entirely. The original “Ghostbusters” had an all male team of Ghostbusters with a female receptionist. In the reboot, all of the Ghostbusters are women (although only one is a person of color, as in the original), with a male receptionist.
For anyone off-put by the inherent sexism and over-sexualization of women in the original, the reboot offers a refreshing alternative. There are explosive gadgets, assertive female protagonists, and, of course, plenty of ghosts. This movie says: ladies, suit up.
The film’s triumph is the cast. Each of the four women, McCarthy, Wiig, McKinnon and Jones, all bring their own, distinct style of humor, which blend together in a strangely effective way. It’s easy to tell these women also have an off-screen friendship, and their chemistry is a high point.
McCarthy, who has the most experience in blockbuster comedies, delivers the best one-liners and physical gags. Wiig, known for her charmingly awkward mannerisms, plays a character like Chris from “Everybody Hates Chris;” meaning that awful hijinks are always happening to her. McKinnon’s character, an eccentric qausi-pyromaniac, is all shock-value, similar to her characters on SNL. Finally, Jones is the paranormal newcomer, pointing out how truly terrifying everything is in a way that’s utterly relatable.
Aside from the phenomenal acting and costumes, the movie makes some serious blunders. The writing isn’t nearly as strong as the acting. A lot of theoretically funny scenes fall flat, as these comedic actresses simply don’t have the lines to carry the scene.
The movie also struggles to find a clear, linear plot. It’s obvious that Feig found himself stuck between playing homage to the original and creating a separate, independent movie. In this sense, “Ghostbusters” falls into trouble. It wants to appeal to the old fan base, dropping Easter eggs from the original throughout the film. However, the film struggles to find its voice as a fresh, new film. These two goals are hard to balance and, sometimes, the film falters. Certain scenes tend to feel superfluous, or slow moving, because of the movie’s uncertain purpose.
Overall, the film does a fairly good job as a feel-good, action oriented, “ghost-busty” experience. Some scenes could have been stronger, and the organization tighter, but it’s a fun watch. The film’s biggest flaw is that it’s not sure what it’s trying to be. A nostalgic throwback? A comedy? An informative guide with very specific instructions for do-it- yourself ghostbusting? This movie tries to juggle it all and only in the best few scenes does it succeed. However, in the end, it was worth the $11 ticket.
No matter what you think of this movie or the original, one thing remains the same: If you have questions about paranormal activity in your area, call 0800 2229 911. These women are on the job.