-This occasionally entertaining reboot sinks far more than it swims.
Before doing anything in a semblance of a review for this film, I need to discuss all of the backlash surrounding it. You really, really can’t be on the winning side for this on either liking or disliking Ghostbusters in your review. It’s the most disliked trailer in YouTube history, which honestly, is more related to them poorly rebooting a classic comedy than it is related to the gender of the leads. The trailers and ad campaign were annoying, the dialogue looked forced and shoddy, and really, overall, it looked like a mistake.
So, if you stated that you enjoyed the film, half of the people reading it will do one of two things:
First, they’ll accuse you of being part of the liberal media bias and accuse you of sucking up to the corporately mandated film-making to try to reduce sexism in Hollywood,
Second, they’ll just insult your credibility based on how bad the ad campaign looked and how shameless of a marketing ploy it is to remake the 1984 classic.
However, if you don’t like it, we know what happens. All I need to do is point you in the direction of classic, 25 year critic Richard Roeper of ‘Ebert & Roeper,’ and the Chicago Sun-Times. He is among the most credible critics working today, taking his TV job and fitting into Roger Ebert’s role in the best possible way he could, becoming the lead critic for the paper that Ebert made famous for his reviews. He accosted the film for being lazily made and unfunny, and hey, it’s one man’s opinion, a critic who is known for letting fun movies go with a decent score because he refuses to be pretentious or insulting like many of the film school yuppies that dominate the industry. Roeper is getting killed online for disliking the film, and he even had to make a response video further explaining why he thought the film was bad. If we have lost our ability to criticize, then there is no reason to continue relying on sites like Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB, or reading your local paper. Sometimes, your favorite critics may dislike a film that you like, but that doesn’t give the right to personally attack him or his body of work.
Ghostbusters is a bad movie. I don’t care that the leads are female. I don’t even really care that it’s a remake of the 80s film. I care that it’s poorly written, unfunny, confusingly paced, and has extended scenes that seem carved directly out of the worst era in Saturday Night Live history.
So, let my qualify my opinion a little further by explaining how I feel about the individual actresses, shall we?
Melissa McCarthy is wildly overrated because of the credit that she gets for being in two good films. Her supporting role in Bridesmaids was very funny, refreshing, and quirky, but the immediate follow-ups, roles like Tammy, Identity Thief, and The Heat were not good films. Then, if you remember because it made my best films by genre list, that Spy was a really solid 2015 comedy, and it reinvigorated some of my appreciation for McCarthy. She’s hit and miss for me, just as she’s hit and miss for everyone.
Kristen Wiig is a good, upcoming actress. She carried the aforementioned Bridesmaids, put together good dramatic performances in The Martian and The Skeleton Twins, and even got award recognition for her solo work in Welcome to Me. She’s wasted here on a boring, blobbering, stereotypical character.
Finally, what have Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones done in order to get my respect? They are the equivalent to putting Colin Jost and Beck Bennett in a film and asking my to automatically accept them as comedy stars. Neither of them are funny on SNL, and although Jones did win me over in this, McKinnon remains as annoying as ever.
The actual Ghostbusters film begins with one of the worst first acts of any film this year. The truth in its mediocrity is not even about the comedy, it’s about how boring it is. The film is paced poorly, and it takes until the hour mark for anything interesting to happen. Kristen Wiig is reduced to a pile of hormones wishing that Chris Hemsworth would notice her, and Melissa McCarthy is forced to play the straight character here; she’s more dialed back than in any performance we’ve seen her in. Take Wiig and McCarthy’s quirks and ability to be funny out of the screenplay to let Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon carry the comedy? Not so great of a choice.
McKinnon tries to be the quirky physicist that says off-colored things or relies on physical comedy to get her imprint on this film, however, she didn’t make me laugh….once. She does her “I’m playing a weird character” accent from SNL, and that character exists the entire time. It gets so grating after two hours. She just got an Emmy nomination, what? WHAT?
Jones does the best work of this film, along with Chris Hemsworth. Hemsworth sells the ‘dumb secretary’ role with sincerity, and he’s the most consistent at providing laughs, but the film can only go so far in making “this guy is really dumb, look at him” jokes. By the fifth or sixth one, we’re ready for it to realize that the gag has overstayed its welcome, talk about beating a dead horse.
Leslie Jones manages to be the most grounded character in the film. She’s resourceful, but scared of the paranormal entities that the team is dealing with. A few of her angry freak-out scenes had me laughing out loud. It was nice, because I hadn’t loved her sketch comedy so far, and she didn’t have a large enough role in Top Five to make an impression.
The effects are fine, there are definitely a ton of call-backs to the original film, but the plot is pretty loose and it would’ve been nice to have more of a structured plot to carry the science fiction elements to their end. The action isn’t ever really exciting, but it’s not exaggerated enough to be funny, either. It ends up in the middle where it was obvious that director Paul Feig was more about getting these four comedians together for gags and sketches within the film than actually paying attention to the lore of ‘Ghostbusters.’
The climax is too big for its own good, none of the relationships are effective, and the first hour is a complete mess. The pacing is poor. It’s rarely funny. Men, women, children, or geezers, this is a barebones attempt at a reboot. I don’t care about what gender the actors are. I don’t care about what color they are. I don’t even care that its a remake. It’s just not a good movie.
Time to jump in the fire.