Movie review: ‘Ghostbusters’ offers familiar idea in a new way
–In 1984 legendary comedians Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis came together with director Ivan Reitman to deliver an iconic classic, “Ghostbusters.” It was about a group of scientists who battled the paranormal — and their doubters — to save New York City.
The classic film inspired a toy line, an animated series, a follow up film and endless talk of another sequel. For years ideas bounced around but nothing came of it. And after Ramis passed away in 2014, it seemed to put a lid on the possible third “Ghostbusters” film.
But good ideas never really die — sometimes they just change. Enter director Paul Feig and two of his favorite actresses, Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, and “Ghostbusters” had life again. The question all summer has been whether this new team — rebooting the franchise with the blessing and participation of the original stars — could live up to the hype.
“Ghostbusters” centers on Dr. Erin Gilbert (Wiig), a respected physicist who’s trying to get tenure at her snooty university. Everything seems to be on track until a book she co-wrote about the paranormal surfaces, threatening the academic career she’s built.
Erin finds her friend, Dr. Abby Yates (McCarthy), who is still a true believer and selling the book to raise funds for her new research projects alongside fellow true believe, Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). Soon, strange things begin happening in New York, and Erin gets sucked back into the hunt by Abby and Holtzmann.
When a mysterious apparition appears in the Subway, a worker, Patty (Leslie Jones), contacts the trio and asks for their help. Taken with their work and haunted by what she’s seen, Patty soon joins in on the fun.
Though many don’t take them seriously, the four girls are convinced New York is on the brink of supernatural destruction and they’re the only ones that can save the city.
I am a big fan of the original “Ghostbusters,” so I was skeptical that this new iteration could work. I’m a fan of Feig, Wiig and McCarthy, but this seemed like a project where so much could work against them. How could they make something fresh and compelling that honored the original?
After seeing the film, I realized I shouldn’t have worried. While the trailers for the film have received a luke warm reception, they don’t give an accurate picture of how dynamic this film really is. The new “Ghostbusters” pulls off the neat trick of paying homage to the original while creating something hilarious and unique. That’s a credit to its stars and production team.
Feig was the director behind “Bridesmaids” and “Spy,” so he’s worked with his talented leading ladies before, and knows how to make the most of their skills. “Ghostbusters” is a different kind of movie, going for a more universal brand of comedy than the hard R-rated fare of their other collaborations. And it works brilliantly.
McCarthy, Wiig, McKinnon and Jones are great in the lead roles. They have incredibly funny and diverse characters, and they each make memorable contributions to the story while having an easy rapport together.
The film is also blessed with some great supporting performances, none more so than Chris Hemsworth as the ditzy receptionist Kevin. Best known for strong, action roles like “Thor,” Hemsworth is perfect — and the film’s biggest scene-stealer — as Kevin. He is like the cherry on top of a well made and satisfying sundae that is this movie.
But where this movie really succeeds is in staying in its lane. It features cameos from all the remaining living stars, which is a great nod to the original film. It also retains a lot of the iconic elements — from the Ecto 1 to Ray Parker, Jr.’s iconic song. But it creates something new. This isn’t a shot-for-shot re-make. These aren’t the same characters. This isn’t the same story. It’s the same idea but a completely new experience, and that works well.
If you’re on the fence, give this new “Ghostbusters” a shot. You won’t be disappointed.
“Ghostbusters” has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for supernatural action and some crude humor.
Three stars out of four.