I’ll be honest – I wasn’t planning on seeing Ghostbusters this weekend. It’s not that I have a bias against it. I was actually really pumped when they first announced the reboot, because I love the cast they’ve assembled for this new movie! But, all cards on the table, I’m not a diehard Ghostbusters fan. I grew up with the original film, and I watched the crap out of our VHS copy, but it was more of a passive passion that I had as a child. I enjoyed the movie, but I can’t quote it to you today, and I can’t tell you the last time I saw the original Ghostbusters in its entirety. I know this might discredit my opinion of this reboot in the eyes of some people, considering how rabidly cultish the fanbase is for this franchise, but I believe it worked out to my advantage. I bought my ticket online, on a whim, 20 minutes before the show started. I drove around the theatre’s parking lot, hit up some local Pokéstops, and then sat down in the theater with two expectations for the movie I was about to see. I wanted to laugh at some funny jokes, and maybe get scared by a few jump scenes. Nothing more, nothing less.
And it’s my pleasure to say that Ghostbusters delivers, and it delivers hard.
I mentioned on Twitter as I was leaving the theater that I haven’t laughed so much at a movie in a while, and I still maintain that this new Ghostbusters is a brilliant comedy. The humor is dry, sharp, witty, and absurd. McCarthy, Wiig, McKinnon, and Jones have palpable chemistry on screen, and they kill it in this movie – especially McKinnon and Jones. But let’s step back and lay down some context before we dive in much deeper.
In this version of Ghostbusters, Dr. Erin Gilbert (Wiig), Dr. Abby Gates (McCarthy), and Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon) are investigators of the paranormal – though, prior to this movie, Erin and Abby had a falling out after publishing a book about the existence of ghosts and other such paranormal phenomena. Erin went on to become a professor at Columbia, and Abby continued with paranormal research, enlisting the help of Holtzmann. However, after a series of ghost sightings – including one by MTA worker, Patty Tolan (Jones) – the three scientists (and Patty) band together to figure out why the ghosts are suddenly appearing. I don’t want to reveal much more than that, because the story is actually quite engaging. At times the pacing felt off, but overall it moves at a nice speed, while packing some nice punches here and there.
Now, as I was saying, out of the four ghostbusters in this movie, McKinnon and Jones really steal the show. From their lines to their body language, each one of these actors command your total attention when they’re on screen, or you might miss a joke, or an unspoken visual gag. That’s not to say Wiig and McCarthy are throwaway characters – they have their standout moments as well! If you’ve seen any of the trailers, you know that these funny ladies know how to make audiences laugh, and this film is no exception. Honestly, the movie is strongest when the four of them are on screen, interacting and joking with each other. I can’t recall the last ensemble comedy I’ve seen that made me experience joy, but that’s exactly what Ghostbusters did.
The biggest comedic surprise, though, is Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin Beckman, the stupid receptionist (no, literally stupid) the ladies hire because he’s drop dead gorgeous. Watching him play such an incompetent character with no holds barred was oddly refreshing – and watching the other characters react to his stupidity was absolute hilarity. It’s one of those rare times that a fictional character makes Michael Scott look like a fully competent and functional adult human being, and I loved every second of it.
We’ve covered story and laughs and characters, so I want to take a moment to talk about how GORGEOUS this movie looks. The color palate is refreshingly bright and vivid. There is no weird color filter from what I could tell, and if there is, it doesn’t turn everything green or blue or red or brown. The colors are bold and splashy, and I was consistently left wide-eyed and slack-jawed by the visual splendor unfolding before me. The ghosts are both so beautiful and haunting that you don’t know whether you should be impressed or disgusted. Sure, they look different than the ghosts in the original movie – so what? The creative design that went into these new ghosts is wonderfully apparent, and there was one scene involving Holtzmann that had me grinning from ear to ear the whole time. So yeah, the visuals are that good.
The gadgets in this movie are also suuuper rad, and I really enjoyed how organically they were introduced throughout the film. It wasn’t just, “Oh shit, ghosts! Check out at all these awesome weapons we have to bust’em up!” I mean, it was a little like that (Holtzmann loves her toys) but there was a process of refinement present in the movie, where the weapons gradually got better and better (and a lot deadlier). It was a simple narrative touch, but it grounded the movie quite nicely. Groundings aside, this movie is bananas in all the right ways. It’s zany, it’s fun, and it tells a truly endearing story. It also pays tribute to all of the original cast (via cameos or otherwise), which was just lovely to see.
After seeing this movie, I legitimately don’t get all of the hate and loathing directed at it. Paul Feig does an excellent job crafting a new installment in a beloved franchise that pays homage to the original, while telling its own story. No, this isn’t Ghostbusters 3, and it’s not a shot-for-shot remake of the original. It’s not supposed to be either of those things. It’s something new, something fresh, and it works. My goodness, it works, and it works so damn well.
Haters gonna hate, and I’m not trying to convince anyone to love this movie. If you’ve already made up your mind that you’re not going to see this movie because it’s “destroying your childhood” or because it’s “feminist propaganda/pandering,” you’re really just depriving yourself of a fun summer action comedy. And that’s really all it is. This movie is not a groundbreaking piece of cinema. It’s just a fun popcorn flick with a handful of scares and plenty of laughs. If you’re expecting anything else, you will be disappointed. If you’re on the fence, just go ahead and take the plunge. Buy a ticket, order some popcorn, and enjoy the ride. I promise you won’t regret it. In fact, you might just leave with a smile on your face. 🙂