Ghostbusters (PG-13)

Ghostbusters starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth is a loose remake of the 1986 original, Ghost Busters.  Each version is a story about some New York City hauntings rooted in a larger plot to somehow take over and/or destroy the world.

The ladies have a hard time living up to the comedic chemistry and timing of Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd, and no one should expect them to.  Almost no one could.  Wiig’s character is consistently, sometimes annoyingly, over the top, at times doing far too much to earn a laugh that should come far more effortlessly.  McCarthy’s character earns a couple of laughs, but the entire role feels forced and somehow not right for her – if you can imagine for a moment that there is anything Melissa McCarthy cannot do as a comedian (or comedienne…  I have no idea which would be politically correct, nor do I care).  At other times, the jokes weren’t taken far enough and lacked the comedic “punch” required to get the laugh, told as if the cast were in a hurry to film this movie and get it over with, or the jokes were just misses.

While the original was a goofy and, let’s face it, corny, product of its time, it contained a few laugh out loud lines and moments.  This remake could have been so much better had it not attempted to be different in all the wrong ways.  It is nice to see a “blockbuster” summer movie starring women, but there must be more.  To have a main cast of women does not provide humor and is not enough.  To take the instrument used to find the presence of ghosts and change the color from the masculine black in the original to neon “pink is for girls” is not enough.  To add in a bit of modern technology is not enough.  To amp up the supernatural beings with CGI is not enough.  To add 3D effects is not enough.  And to add Chris Hemsworth for eye candy…well…that was almost enough, but still – not enough.  Although, I must say, he really is super cute and more importantly, he provided the majority of the comedy in the film with his rendition of the traditionally female “dumb blonde” – making it less of a “girls” movie after all.

I am having a hard time finding fault with the director, Paul Feig, who directed Bridesmaids and The Heat, and there were great comedy writers on this project, including Dan Akroyd – leading me to believe that perhaps: (1) there may be something off about the chemistry of this particular cast that doomed this movie to mediocrity.  Just because they are funny ladies doesn’t necessarily mean they can be funny well together.  I would probably have to watch it again to put my finger on the exact issue, but that’s not going to happen, at least not for a very long time; and (2) perhaps the material leaves little for a creative mind to work with; so perhaps a remake of this particular film was not in order, but a total reinvention that could have been amped up and taken the original to the modern day next level, rather than being stuck mostly in the past with the use of dated looking tasers and such.

At any rate, the mission was to deliver on the laughs, and considering the build-up for this movie and the talent involved, I expected more.  If you enjoyed the original or are superfans of any of the cast you may enjoy this version of Ghostbusters and younger kids will enjoy it, particularly if you see it in 3D.  They don’t really know any better unless we teach them, do they?  Older kids may find it old-fashioned and corny still, just like the original – and not in a good way.  The effects are sort of underwhelming compared to what can be experienced in theaters these days.

Ghostbusters earned 6 out of 10 bloops. It’s not bad, but it could have been much better.  Lackluster compared to the 30 year old original.

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