Ghostbusters (2016), faced with a barrage of criticism even before it was filmed, could have easily gone the route of the multitudes of dodgy 80s reboots. Instead, what we have is something that embodies the spirit of the original, while having its own legs to stand on. Yes, the reboot is good and a whole lot of fun.
This being a reboot, don’t expect to hear from Venkman, Stantz, Spengler and Zeddmore – it’s a whole new cast of characters. Kristen Wiig plays physicist Erin Gilbert, who’s trying to get tenure at her university, except a book she wrote about ghosts in the past is threatening to make her lose her credibility. Her co-writer was childhood friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), who has stubbornly continued research into ghosts with the help of Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). New York subway employee Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) rounds up the team with her her encyclopedic knowledge of New York.
Reworking something as beloved as the original Ghostbusters is a tall order. Attempting to make them all female then drew the ire of a thousand so-called fans. Here, director/writer Paul Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold attempt a juggling act by paying a lot of respect to the original – it comes close to being a remake in many ways – while taking shots at the Internet trolls who just can’t imagine that women can be funny.
Those watching for a nostalgia fix will get it by the buckets. There’s a whole lot of cameos and callbacks to the original and the late Harold Ramis also gets remembered in a very special way. The creators of the new movie definitely love the original, and it shows – and they also do enough to make sure this movie has its own place in the canon instead of being just a rehash.
McKINNON THE SUPERSTAR
And as a comedy, Ghostbusters has a life of its on. The Feige-McCarthy partnership scores again, and the laughs don’t just come from McCarthy or even Wiig – McKinnon, Jones and even Chris Hemsworth (as himbo secretary Kevin) provide countless laughs in terms of both verbal and physical comedy, that its such an absolute joy to watch the team together.
That’s not to say that new Ghostbusters totally forgets that the original was very creepy in its own way. While it’s not the Asian Ju-on style horror that’s haunting the screen these days, there are quite a few chilling moments that remind you that this is really about busting malevolent ghosts, and not just Casper.
HAUNTED BY THE ORIGINAL
But the reason why it shines is also where it stumbles – the spectre of the 1980s Ghostbusters hangs over this, and it’s obvious. It’s not an exact scene for scene copy, but it tips the hat so often to the the 1982 movie that its almost as if it is afraid that longtime fans would hate the reboot. Thankfully the cast here is so likeable that you get carried away with their hijinks, but hopefully with a sequel we see more new stuff.
A good number of us geeks grew up watching the original Ghostbusters – which is now 32 years old, not to mention the multiple cartoons that came after that. With reboots of many 80s classics sprouting up every year, Ghostbusters stands out as one that manages to just hold its own. It’s a good film, with lots of laughs and some scary moments, and with great chemistry among the cast. And, you know, feeling that fun, fun Ghostbusters vibe all over again on the big screen and introducing it to a whole new world of fans really is a good thing.
Oh, and don’t forget to stick till the very, very end of the credits, especially if you’re an old-school fan.