And so Underwhelming Summer 2016 continues.
“Ghostbusters” is a reboot (not sequel) of the famed franchise and stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones as the four members of the titular team of paranormal hunters. Paul Feig directs and co-writes.
This film has been the topic of debate since the idea was kicked around in 2014, featuring angry trolls online who were upset about the all-women cast (unjustified) and angry fans who were upset about the awful, painfully unfunny trailers (fully justified). I fell into the latter group, but wanted to trust Feig to continue his streak of winning movies (“Bridesmaids,” “The Heat” and “Spy”). After seeing “Ghostbusters” I can reassure you it is not as bad as the trailers made it out to be; but it isn’t quite good enough to prove all the haters wrong.
I was never upset over the fact this was an all-women cast, but was irked by who they chose to fill it out. McCarthy is a female Adam Sandler and is often more grating than funny, although she does shine in Feig films. Leslie Jones isn’t a good actress and always plays the “loud black woman” which doesn’t change here. And while I enjoy the awkwardness of McKinnon and Wiig I think their jokes miss as often as they hit. And all four actresses are exactly what you’d expect them to be here.
McKinnon will be who people talk about here but she was a mixed bag. She gives the film constant (quirky) energy shots and offers some of the film’s most entertaining moments. However she is always “on,” meaning every line of dialogue she delivers she tries to turn into a joke, and even when she’s not the one talking she’s trying to make funny faces to get a laugh. Some will be annoyed, some will love it, I was in the middle.
The person who absolutely steals the show is Chris Hemsworth, who plays the group’s secretary. Hemsworth is handsome and clueless and even if sometimes they beat you over the head with his stupidity, he has the film’s biggest laughs. Seriously, between this and “Vacation” Hemsworth needs to make every non-Thor film he does a comedy, he’s got great timing.
The biggest problem with “Ghostbusters” is it is kind of a mess. There aren’t enough laughs to have it thrive as a comedy, scares to work as a horror or action to be successful as a sci-fi. When the group is riffing and it’s a true Paul Feig film, things work. But there are segments of awkward editing and horrible pacing, including the first hour which feels criminally long.
They also bust just one ghost leading up to the climax. In the original (which you shouldn’t compare reboots to but this adds context), you got the single montage of them busting ghosts but you got sense the group was getting things done. Here they just kind of sit around and create new toys, and you wish they would get up and out and do something.
Look, “Ghostbusters” is…fine. There are plenty of fun nods to the original (some more awkward than others) and I enjoyed myself in bursts, but not quite enough to recommend it. If you love these actresses I’m sure you’ll find more to like in this than most, but overall this fails to justify its existence and even a hunky, adorable Chris Hemsworth can’t save it.
Critics Rating: 4/10