Oh, 1984. You were such an innocent time: Movie heroes still smoked. We didn’t have any social awareness about sexual harassment. Ratings seemed milder, more lax. And though tech was advancing, we didn’t have the sophisticated special effects that are so prevalent in films nowadays. We went along with these things because they were all so commonplace. Director Ivan Reitman’s GHOSTBUSTERS gifted us with a classic comedy reflective of that era. But our world has changed dramatically in the decades since, aging things we love. These are now dated elements in a “classic.” Mentalities have evolved for the better, and we are overdue for entertainment reflecting our current climate – our beloved “nerd” properties included. Director Paul Feig’s GHOSTBUSTERS has reinvigorated the franchise in the perfect manner, infusing it with new life. It’s absolutely hilarious, whip smart, a whole lot of fun and certainly the best studio tentpole you’ll see this summer.
Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a physics professor at a prestigious university when her past life as a paranormal expert returns to haunt her. She’s forced to team up with estranged friend and fellow paranormal science enthusiast Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and her partner, engineer Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon, who channels Jeff Goldblum here to perfection), to hunt down the mystery behind newly uncovered ghost activities plaguing New York City. After setting up shop above a Chinese restaurant, and landing dimwitted but hunky assistant Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), it’s not long until another member joins their crew – MTA worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones). Despite the mayor (Andy Garcia) wanting to put a stop to their antics, the “Ghostbusters” fine tune their equipment and smarts in order to thwart the ghouls’ mounting destructive threats.
Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold add their signature style humor with panache in between the franchise’s established canon. There are heap loads of absurdly hilarious bits that add an electric spark; from beautiful-dummy Kevin’s interview (which I laughed for a good ten minutes after the joke was over and then laughed again two days later), to the “he’s been dead for 15 years” gag (which never fails to make me giggle), to the handful of meta bits about online commenters, it’s all intelligent jokes that have staying power. They also write to the actors’ strengths – which is great given there’s only so much time in an ensemble popcorn movie to establish the motives of four main characters. As is the case in THE HEAT and BRIDESMAIDS, its fun to see supporting roles filled out by Feig regulars – Zach Woods, Michael MacDonald, Jessica Chaffin, and Dippold herself (who has a tiny part in THE HEAT, another Feig film she co-wrote). Plus, cameos, iconography and gadgetry are integrated throughout fairly seamlessly – brilliantly never manipulating audience nostalgia.
It’s a rarity that I say a film should be seen in 3D, but here we are. This one is best experienced that way. Not only do the streams from the proton packs light up, you feel as if you might get slimed by ghost-projectile-vomit shooting directly at you. There’s added depth and dimension to the imagery that’s beyond compare of other 3-D films as some of the streams, ghost figures and burning ashes float beyond the confines of the letterboxed images. It’s aesthetically inventive.
Yes, creepy villain Rowan (Neil Casey) is a touch on the weak side (with a performance that’s slightly more akin to GHOSTBUSTERS 2’s Peter MacNicol minus the abject weenie-ness). He could use more heft, so it’s a blessing when he sheds his mortal coil. The mystery of who is setting these spook summoning traps gets lost for a while during act two. And not all bits work perfectly – the reoccurring wonton soup gag may not slay in all markets, and patience is necessary for a payoff to the troops’ SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER pose. However, all of these minor gripes are forgivable for how much good it puts out into the zeitgeist. This serves to entertain viewers of all ages, and should completely win over the naysayers.
Oh! And make sure you stay through the entire end credits. There is an end tag that’s totally worth your while.
GHOSTBUSTERS opens on July 15.