Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

I can’t recall a blockbuster that received so much hate prior to its release. I really can’t. Let’s be honest for a minute here. Ghostbusters is not a franchise enshrined in the hallowed halls of Hollywood. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. Ghostbusters was a great experience, Ghostbusters 2 noticeably less so. That is the end of the story. Seems short for a franchise, especially when we are readily acknowledging that 2.0 didn’t have the same charm as the original. Remaking the Lord of the Rings would be criminal. Remaking Star Wars would be criminal. Remaking Ghostbusters? That’s just expected.

Do not confuse the words expected and necessary. They’re on opposite sides of the track. The world would have moved on without Ghostbusters 2016.

Alas, Ghostbusters 3.0 isn’t apocalyptic in quality nor blasphemous in its execution. What’s great about Paul Feig’s film is the long chain he affords both his writers and cast. It leaves him little stopping power if his project descends into madness but the free roam approach in this comedy begets natural growth with some appropriate artifacts left through the screenplay to rekindle the 1984 experiment.

Ghostbusters otherwise hardly resembles the classic. It shares a title and the premise of ghosthunting. An organic dialogue transcript that is character (not plot) driven ensures a first time tour that carries a pinch of nostalgia. Feig wanted a similar, not linked, feature, a film that could succeed on its own.

Unlike Independence Day: Resurgence (thank God), the newest Ghostbusters relies on its own value, displaying a self-confidence that requires no special effects crutch. If anything, I would say at times the visuals are purposely average, almost a direct slap in the face to all of the critics, myself included, who have come to expect a remake/sequel to stutter step its way in front of the stage and display a silent dance behind a seizure-inducing light show and green screen extravaganza.

In what has been a dismal year in cinema, Ghostbusters is a welcome addition. A comedy that doesn’t take itself seriously is certainly a treat these days. Ghostbusters has the advantage of being released during a down year for movies, which may make it more appealing to me than it really is, but I don’t think so. I think Ghostbusters female edition is genuinely good.

The cast is fine. Melissa McCarthy is not as large a presence as she usually is. She’s sharing the camera, allowing everyone to get their licks and kicks in. Kate McKinnon impresses me the most, presenting one of the most awkward and quirky characters in recent memory. You never know what’s coming from her. Easily the movie’s most likable character.

Although, the argument could be made that Chris Hemsworth is the star of the show as the bumbling idiot secretary. This is probably my favorite Hemsworth role. He, as well as the rest of the cast, reflect a laid-back attitude that relaxes audiences’ fears early on that this is going to dissolve into a massive taxicab pileup in Times Square.

Feig’s film is light on its feet, bypassing any possible themes this production could have suggested, which I was okay with for this outing. Sometimes, a comedy with no message is just fine.

That doesn’t mean I plead ignorance here. There are a few items that are bothersome, especially when our villain is painted as a bully victim. The word “superficial” comes to mind. His character is drawn on tracer paper. Look, I loved tracer paper when I was a kid. As someone with little artistic talent, I found gratification in drawing something decent, even if it wasn’t my own. I stopped doing that because I grew up and realized how much more rewarding my own achievements could be.

Feig’s lack of caring in his characters’ nemesis would be startling if this wasn’t a comedy. With comedies, I can’t say I’m surprised by a general refusal to create character depth. At their most basic, comedies are meant to make us laugh. They often skip the story part. When taking into account how disastrous 2016 has been, I’ll take Ghostbusters for what it is: a fun time to the theater.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (BatmanFree State of JonesThe Running Man10 Cloverfield LaneCreed)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Batman ForeverThe CrowHardcore HenryBatman v Superman: Dawn of JusticePride and Prejudice and Zombies)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (UnderworldThe Do-OverX-Men: ApocalypseD-Tox/Eye See YouConstantine)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Underworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Independence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the ApesStonados)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Ghostbusters: 73.

Ghostbusters is an average film that I wouldn’t praise so much if I didn’t have such an entertaining experience with it. The cast is funny, Hemsworth unabashedly so, and overall has the wit and charisma to succeed on its own scripture. Considering what the summer has had to offer, Ghostbusters has been one of the highlights.

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2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

  1. Tom says:

    Very well said Tim, I think you’re really on to something when you contrast the rest of this year’s offerings with how Ghostbusters performs. Relatively speaking, it is far from the worst. I had a good time with it even if it is far from perfect. Nowhere near deserving of the hate it has garnered. It’s a pity that that hatred pretty much assured the film disappeared from a lot of people’s memories within weeks.

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