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Ghostbusters (2016)

Paul Feig helms the reboot of the much loved 1984 Ghostbusters classic, directing and co-writing with Katie Dippold. It reunites his Bridesmaids (2011) stars Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, alongside comedian and Saturday Night Live star, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon respectively. Ignoring the previous two films, the latest installment again tells the story of four mismatched New York City parapsychologists hunting and capturing ghosts. I’ve loved the original film ever since our mum bought it for my brother and I on VHS one summer to keep us entertained (and quiet). I don’t think she would have got it us had she been aware of jokes about phantom oral sex, and a possessed Sigourney Weaver saying she wants Bill Murray inside her (“It sounds like you’ve got two or three people in there already”), but that tape kept us quiet for a whole summer. I’m also still proud of the ghostbusters fancy dress outfits we did one Halloween at university complete with Corn Flakes box proton packs. It was a real lightning in a bottle moment of a film, combining some of cinemas funniest actors at their peak in an original story, with iconic imagery, and one hell of a theme song.

Remaking or rebooting an established franchise such as this is a no brainer for film producers, as they know that even a half arsed job will still guarantee a healthy return. I was therefore really pleased to find that any concerns of a botched effort were misplaced, and real effort has gone in to breathe fresh life in to the franchise. Ghostbusters is a lot of fun, has plenty of laughs, and is very faithful to the original (although maybe a tad too much at times). The cameos were surprising, and didn’t feel tacked on for the sake of it. A good twist was the new foursome’s fight with high officials and the media as they doubt the credibility of their reports of ghosts. It made we realise how quick the public are to accept the existence of ghosts in the original!Replacing the original four with an all-female cast worked well, and I’m pleased they took a gamble on freshening it up. Last year’s Spy (starring Melissa McCarthy and directed by Paul Weig) was one of the most surprising films of last year, and the obvious chemistry between Wiig and McCarthy echoes back to some of Feig’s brilliant Bridesmaids. Saying that, I did think that their improvised (or so it often appears) back and forth’s are a little hit and miss here, and although Leslie Jones holds her own, it’s Kate McKinnon that really steals the show. Her Dr. Jillian Holtzmann is hilariously eccentric, and I often found myself drawn to her performance, and watching her glazed over reactions to other character’s lines. She cracked me up and I’m looking forward to see what she does next. Chris Hemsworth’s super buff and super stupid receptionist actually ends up having some of the film’s best lines. I won’t spoil his best one here, but he’s going to be blamed for quite a few poorly named pets in 2016.

You can really tell that this remake has been made with a lot of care and respect, and that’s a relief to be able say. However, this is also the film’s biggest problem as it ends up straying too close to the first film and follows the original plot almost step by step, beat by beat. We’ve seen it before (and funnier), and although it’s a good throw away comedy, it isn’t particularly memorable. When you have an original so ingrained in pop culture, it’s impossible not to compare the two, and there is only one version I’ll be watching over and over again. It really struggles to shake that ghost off, but I’ve seen enough to be excited about the inevitable sequel when hopefully they can move further away from that original source material. The finale seemed to be building really well (Holtzmann taking on ghosts singlehandedly with that classic riff blaring out on electric guitar was brilliant), but then seemed to fall flat and drag on a tad. And finally film’s villain is pretty weak, pales in comparison to Gozer of the original, and I really wasn’t interested in many of their scenes.

If you’re after a disposable summer comedy with enough laughs to keep you entertained for the 116 minute running time, then Ghostbusters definitely ticks the box. You’ve never seen Thor being this funny, the four women bounce off each other throughout, and it’s got a superb Jaws joke. Those that haven’t seen the original may not get the nods and winks throughout, but it’s that respect to the original that is both this film’s greatest strength and weakness.


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