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Ghostbusters (2016)
Tonight's Feature Presentation

GHOSTBUSTERS (2016)

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth

Written By: Katie Dippold, Paul Feig Directed By: Paul Feig

The Shot

It’s not even close to perfect, but it doesn’t have to be.  The Ghostbusters reboot delivers as a fun summer flick, and it does so on the collective strength of its ensemble.  (Okay, especially Kate McKinnon. But the ensemble.) It’s well worth the watch in a theatre, and again come small screen time.


The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

FONDUE.

Cheese remixed and still tasty.


Pairs Well With...

ECTO COOLER & VODKA.

Come on, grown-up kids.  You’ve been waiting to try this since 1984 and now you can!

“Safety lights are for dudes.”


Ghostbusters is one of the most iconic, pop-culturally significant movies of the 1980s.  Considering what decade it is now, the only surprise regarding its becoming the subject of a reboot should be what took so long to happen.  But now the reboot is finally here, and the temptation is great, as always, to immediately compare it to the classic that came before.

Though this is of course expected, it’s also not entirely fair.  So how about we have a look at how Ghostbusters fares as a fresh standalone feature before circling back to those inevitable comparisons, shall we?

After an opening sequence that introduces the audience to the movie’s special effects budget, the first act is devoted to introducing the actual Ghostbusters, and it is a very tentative introduction, almost as though the story is asking for permission to continue… or to be a comedy, for that matter.  The two characters we meet first – Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) – seem to be holding back, and while there is theoretical forward motion to the story, it feels more like the result of a conveyer belt process than any willful progression on the part of the protagonists.  I admit that for the first little while, I was concerned.

Ah, but then… but then our third Ghostbuster, Jillian Hotzmann (Kate McKinnon), was finally allowed to let loose, and the fourth, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), stepped onto the scene with all cylinders firing from the get-go, and Kevin the flaky blond receptionist (Chris Hemsworth) showed up, and suddenly, it was on.

There’s a lesson there, I think; one that even the big comic book mash-ups from Marvel have been missing out on.  Ghostbusters is a true ensemble flick, where the strength of the picture is directly proportionate to the strength of the ensemble functioning together as a team (instead, you know, all that “versus” stuff).  It gets really good once the entire band hits the stage.  Sure, there are a couple of solo standouts (those being Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones), but it’s harmony that makes it work as opposed to a bunch of raw talent trying to upstage the rest of the raw talent.  In that respect, Ghostbusters is almost the antithesis of a modern big budget tentpole, and it’s refreshing.

This is why it doesn’t matter that the film always feels like it’s too self conscious about its attempts at homage.  This is why even when the third act threatens to become CGI-ridiculous in the “George Lucas prequel” sense, Ghostbusters none the less remains totally engaging.  It’s not the frankly overzealous special effects that make this movie a blast: it’s the characters blasting their way through those effects and “cleanin’ up the town” that make it fun.  (Because really, Miss Slimer is just plain dumb, and the “final boss” is an interesting concept that doesn’t turn out to be nearly as cool on screen as it surely appeared on paper.)  It’s the people the audience was cheering for during the final battle – and before, and beyond – and really, that’s the way it should be, especially in a comedy, and especially in one where the humor is so wildly all over the map of big hits and extreme misses.  

Okay; to be fair, Kristen Wiig is playing the movie’s obviously designated straight woman.  And Kate McKinnon is such a blast that she does the work of ten people.  And Leslie Jones is a dynamo.  And Chris Hemsworth is a gas.  And any of the cast right on down to the cab driver (okay, so I’m cheating there) are a thousand times better than Jonah Hill would’ve been.  And like I said before, it’s not a contest.  It’s all about working together… about friendship.  Remember friendship?  It’s nice.

It is, in fact, a large part of what made the original Ghostbusters such a great movie. 

This brings us to the unfair comparison.

Moreso than any other genre, comedy is in the eye of the beholder.  I think the best litmus test to use here is: who was the headliner on “Saturday Night Live” the last time you think the show was consistently funny?  If your answer is “John Belushi” or “Phil Hartman,” you’ll probably find that the original Ghostbusters is more your bag.  If your answer is more contemporary to the cast members of this film who are SNL alums, then – surprise – you’ll probably find this one funnier.  I confess that much of the rest of the audience in attendance at the screening I was present for laughed more than I did… but I still laughed pretty damn often.  It doesn’t have to be a matter of “one version is great so the other obviously sucks;” it’s perfectly fine for one to be good and the other great, or both good or both great or whatever. 

Personally, I think the original Ghostbusters is great, and easily one of the most quotable comedies of all time.  I also think that this one released in 2016 is very good as its own independent self, and well worth seeing on the big screen.  I really enjoyed it, and I’ll likely be adding it to my permanent home library come blu ray time.

(Okay, so I won’t be buying the new soundtrack, but come on, that Fall Out Boy train wreck of a theme cover is just plain wrong.)

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, July, 2016


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