Friday, July 15, 2016


Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. Over the decades the movies have adapted this simple idea into the three-act structure, and the challenge for every filmmaker has been to make the seams in-between the acts invisible as their stories progress. For director Paul Feig and his remake of the 1984 beloved comedy GHOSTBUSTERS, keeping consistency between acts is one of many issues.

Paranormal researcher Abby (Melissa McCarthy) and physicist Erin (Kristin Wiig) put their old differences aside to investigate the uprising of ghosts around New York City. They recruit quirky engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), and amateur NYC historian Patty (Leslie Jones) to form a team of researchers and ghost-hunters despite efforts from the mayor (Andy Garcia) to debunk them and keep a lid on the existence of ghosts.

GHOSTBUSTERS is a film with a solid beginning. Good work is done in establishing the main characters, most especially with Abby and Erin…who have been friends since childhood and have their own issues to work out between each other. They are the grounding element in their ghost-busting team which is kept on their toes with the nutty Holtzmann and the powdered-keg Patty. Despite the good early work, GHOSTBUSTERS settles into a second-act slog as pieces are moved around in anticipation of the final showdown. On-and-off again discussions with the mayor’s office are a grind, and the mystery behind who is drawing ghosts into NYC doesn’t amount to much. All this is capped off with a messy third act culminating in a huge battle between our heroes and a thousand CGI ghosts, which is a lot of lights and noise and is equivalent to jangling shiny keys in front of an infant. The character work done in the early act is thrown out the window, and the supposed pay-off at the climax doesn’t feel earned.

GHOSTBUSTERS is a comedy at its core, and the laughs that Feig goes for are very much hit-or-miss. Most of the humor comes in the form of quips, but the stage is set early on when Melissa McCarthy’s character blows a lady-fart which is then followed up by a guy shitting his pants which is then followed by another guy flipping the middle-finger all over the place. It’s a sign that the humor is completely un-sophisticated and aimed at 13 year olds, and doesn’t do the cast any favors. Feig also treats his male cast-members in a curious way; nearly every man with more than five minutes of screen time is portrayed as a complete idiot, with the bulk of the jabs thrown at the character Kevin (Chris Hemsworth); a dim-witted hunk hired as a receptionist. Kevin is played so dumb he can’t answer the phone, and it’s so over-the-top the character feels mentally-challenged; a trait which Feig takes full advantage of. And just for good measure, our team of Ghostbusters shoots a giant ghost in the nuts with their lasers in the final battle.

Pacing and editing are also an issue. Many scenes drag on for way too long as one single joke is stretched way too thin. The film also stops dead in its tracks to wedge-in cameos from the 1984 film, which add nothing and only halt what there is of the plot. There are many callbacks to the original movie and the pacing is weighed down because of it, and it comes off as a mistake for a movie which so desires to be its own thing. There are some very well-done horror sequences here and there, but they are usually derailed by a CGI blob-thing of a ghost.

Acting is all over the place. Kristin Wiig is allowed to do the most work and does it well. Melissa McCarthy fades into the shadow of her castmates, but still finds time to pull her standard fat-girl-falls-down routine. Leslie Jones just YELLS REALLY LOUD all the time. Kate McKinnon fares the best as the quirky and socially-awkward engineer, but is very thinly drawn and since McKinnon is a bit un-hinged in the first place, it’s hard to give her too much praise. Despite the flaws with his character, Chris Hemsworth breaks out of his manly tough-guy persona with a surprisingly loose performance. Neil Casey plays the so-called villain who is bringing ghosts into the city, and he is written so thinly, with zero background or motivation, that he makes no impression whatsoever.

A lot has been said about this reboot/remake of GHOSTBUSTERS concerning the female leads and the whole idea of even making the movie in the first place. The cast, which does have talent, is short-changed by the underwritten script and the crass humor, and the only justification for having the ladies in the lead is to have queef jokes and one-liners about their bras. The film does not serve them well, and overall is an insult to watch as it is crude, silly, offensive, and exploitive…and makes no strides for anyone involved. It suffers from a poor story structure and bad humor, and is one ghost story which needs to be busted and locked away.

BOTTOM LINE: Fuck it  

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