Review: Ghostbusters (2016) is funny so go away haters

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In case you don’t want to read to the end of this: the new Ghostbusters is far more entertaining than Ghostbusters II, which isn’t saying much, but it’s not quite as entertaining as the original because the original was ORIGINAL. But first, I know you’re not supposed to review the actual act of seeing a movie, but Thursday night’s screening of the new Ghostbusters revamp/reboot was incredibly bizarre and I think recounting what happened will help explain why this movie is not the disaster everyone expects it to be.

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The screening was held at the Lincoln Square Imax, thought by many to be the finest Imax theater in the world, and a capacity crowd had gathered — regular humans as well as press attended and they were lined up on a sweltering day for hours to see the film on the mammoth screen. So then, as the lights went down everyone put on their 3D glasses and the movie began, almost as one the hundreds of people gathered cried out in terror as suddenly we COULD NOT SEE. Something was wrong and I took off my glasses. One lens was black and one was white!!! Huh, I never realized that was how it worked before. The movie looked awful with the glasses on, and everyone realized that not only was the movie NOT in 3D or Imax, it was actually running from a computer file, and we knew that because there was a white strip at the bottom with the Windows logo in the lower left corner. Despite this handicap (a computer file looks like shit projected on an Imax screen in case you were wondering) as the movie began there were laughs. But just as the story was getting going a bunch of Sony people ran out and stopped the film. Apologizing, they said we could go get candy and popcorn while they got the right “print”. Indeed there was free snacks and soda in the lobby! While they got the Imax version queued up a small riot to get free candy ensued and no one would go back to their seats until they got their Goobers. But finally everyone sat down and it was announced the film would start from the top. Groans, as no one wanted to sit through the same 15 minutes again.

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So could there be a worse set up for a film? A risible print, a candy riot and having to sit through the same thing twice?

Despite all this, once the movie got to the new part, everyone started laughing and clapping again, and the film seemed to win over the audience entirely. So literally, a crowd was pleased. Bustin’ made them feel good.

(Also the 3D glasses went back to being white in both lenses. WTF that was all about I have no idea.)

Ghostbusters 2016 has been brutally attacked by men on the internet because it stars four funny women instead of four funny men, and the idea of four women starring in a movie is seen as a gimmick and pandering whereas four MEN starring in a movie is normal and how god intended it. Anyone who objects to this movie just because it stars four women is a bigot and that’s one thing we need a little less of.

And let’s look at the big picture. A new Ghostbusters had languished for decades because a) the original was perfect and a new one starring Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender wouldn’t improve on it and b) well you don’t need a “b” because Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray and the late Harold Ramis are/were all aware of “a.” If you’re not going to do something worth doing it would just be a lame cash grab.

So if this movie had not starred Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, who would it have starred? Since all Ghostbusters must come from SNL, let’s say it was Bill Hader, Taran Killam, Bobby Moynihan and Kevin Hart, because all movie must star Kevin Hart.

Would that movie really have been any funnier or fresher than a movie starring McKinnon and Jones, SNL’s latest break out stars?

Really would it?

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Giving the Ghostbusters formula a gender swap with four of the funniest people on the planet and Chris Hemsworth, one of the hottest, is not just one of the ONLY fresh things they could have done, but one of the only CONTEMPORARY things they could have done.

OKAY THAT SAID, Ghostbusters 2016 is to the original as Jurassic World is to Jurassic Park, as several have pointed out. It’s basically the same elements — a fire house, Slimer, a hearse, scientists, contraptions, jumpsuits — mixed up with new jokes and special effects. And as with Jurassic World, the charisma of the stars is what gives it a fresh coat of paint.

The New Ghostbusters starts with a haunting at a New York mansion, to give some idea of the threats we’ll face. It then introduces Wiig as Erin Gilbert, a physics professor at Columbia whose tenure review is threatened by the reemergence of a book she wrote with Abby Yates (McCarthy) which was all about how ghosts actually exist. Erin goes to see Abby to beg her not to keep promoting the book and finds her in a new paranormal research lab with Jillian Holtzman (McKinnon), Abby’s new partner. When the three are called to investigate the haunting at the mansion, Erin’s love of ghosthunting is rekindled, and from there, it’s a familiar tale as the three — soon aided by Jones’ Patty Tolan, an MTA station manager who knows all about the history of New York and has an uncle with a hearse they can use for gigs.

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Along the way we also meet Neil Casey as Rowan North, a creepy hotel employee who has some scheme to bring the apocalypse to life. And the new Ghostbusters decide to hire a receptionist, Kevin, played by Hemsworth. It must be admitted, Hemsworth is one of the funnest things in the movie. Hired because he’s so dreamy, he takes dimwitted to a new level, and Erin’s doe eyed stuttering around him is another one of the funniest things in the movie. Along the way there are cameos, in jokes, slimings, a mayor (Andy Garcia) who wants to keep things under wraps and all the other things you’d expect from a movie caled Ghostbusters.

The plot of Ghostbusters never sounded inherently funny, and director Paul Feig, who wrote the movie with Katie Dippold, has made this a movie where the humor comes from the characters, just as with the original. Erin, Abby and Patty are all people we like and their jokes spring from that, not from set-ups. I think people were expecting a fall on the floor laugh riot like a Seth Rogen movie, and this is more subdued than that.

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McKinnon’s Jillian is something else though. She’s far more cartoonish, a sort of Bugs Bunny/Deadpool/Captain Jack Sparrow type character who doesn’t really fit in with the more grounded characterizations. (Maybe it was just the goggles, but she reminded me of Hopey Glass.) Don’t get me wrong, she’s so inherently funny anything she does gets laughs, but often it’s just cutting to her reacting to something else happening. People are either going to love her or hate her. (Also, the movie doesn’t really run away from the idea that Jillian is gay, which is another welcome break from tradition.)

By the end of the film, horrible supernatural threats are trying to destroy New York, our four heroes have to cross the streams and rescue Kevin, and a very expensive and well-paced action climax ensues, followed by credits that look go great in 3D Imax that I might recommend seeing it in that format just for the credits. It’s very sad when one of the Ghostbusters dies, though.

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KIDDING. Just wanted to see if you got this far. Ghostbusters 2016 isn’t a groundbreaking comedy classic, but it *is* a groundbreaking movie, and a lot of people hate it sight unseen because of the twist on the much loved premise. And some people just don’t think women can be funny, despite the history of women in humor from Moms Mabley and Mae West to Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett. Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon and Jones and Feig have made a fine summer entertainment that satisfied THIS Ghostbusters fan just fine.

That the film is already seen as a risky disappointment that male filmgoers have no interest in is a sad comment on how Hollywood views films about women and about how men view female protagonists. But you know, it’s 2016 people, let’s try to pretend we’ve made a little progress.

Comments

  1. Remco says

    We’ll be going next week, and are happy to see it getting your seal of approval.

  2. Andrew L. says

    Well, in our case it’s my wife who was completely turned off by the trailers, and the original Ghostbusters is one of her favorite films (and mine). The style of humor in the promos just falls flat for her.

  3. George says

    I have no great interest in a Ghostbusters revival, with or without the original cast (or what’s left of them). The mediocre, unfunny GHOSTBUSTERS II (1989) killed my desire for more sequels with Murray & Co.

    But I’m tempted to see the new movie just to piss off the jerks who have been throwing tantrums ever since the cast was announced. What’s really bizarre is the way fans are treating the 1984 movie as some sort of religious text, instead of the goofy comedy it was.

    If fanboys had existed in 1940, they would have sent death threats to Howard Hawks for making Hildy Johnson a woman in HIS GIRL FRIDAY. In 1971, they would have gone berserk over Robert Wise adding a female scientist to THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN.

    Anyway, GHOSTBUSTERS opens Friday, and we’ll soon know whether it’s good or bad, or a hit or a flop. Then the pop culture dialogue can, I hope, move on to other topics.

  4. Orlando says

    Most of the negative remarks were targeted at the trailer, not at the women in the movie. Both trailers made the movie look like Paul Blart Mall Cop in my opinion and guess what? I have not seen that movie or the sequel. And the main protagonist in PBMC is a man. If Sony can’t take well argumented criticism from a movie trailer, they should fire their marketing people (which they did) and create a trailer that better showcases the actual quality of the movie. So, again, based on what I saw on the trailers, this movie is not the kind of comedy I want to see the Ghostbusters franchise become. It looks dull and very corny.

  5. George says

    Heidi MacDonald said: “And some people just don’t think women can be funny, despite the history of women in humor from Moms Mabley and Mae West to Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett.”

    Female comedy teams go back at least to 1931. People back then didn’t seem to have a problem with funny women starring in a SERIES of movies. Take a look:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpuOFC4g-l0

  6. lavaheart says

    I’m glad the actors made up for it. However I still refuse to watch this film. The whole genderswap is what pisses me off. You can’t treat women as some sort of fucking gimmick to get people to watch a movie. That and some of the jokes made during the trailers… It’s like the film was written by feminazis.

    Plus I wanted new original ideas. Not the same story rehashed. So really It’s not the actors I’m pissed at it’s the people who directed, wrote the jokes, and wrote the script.

    Why they couldn’t just not completely rip off the original movie and have a ghostbusters crew with both males and females is beyond me. I could probably come up with a interesting plot involving capturing ghosts in a few weeks to a month tops. I understand wanting to make throwbacks to the original, but the trailer showed NOTHING but throwbacks plotwise.

  7. Chris Hero says

    I hope this movie is a large success and all the Ghostbusters fans have a good time.

    I’ve never really been a fan of any of it, so I won’t be going, but I do wish it the best!

  8. The Legalist says

    This movie is total trash. Its pukes on the Ghostbuster brand. The Actresses they chose was horrible and not funny. I hate their work because they are not funny or even good. They could use better actresses seriously. I also despise the director. One insulted the fans repeated. Call people like me a man child living in my mother’s basement? Well Paul. I own my house. I work in the trades. Oh yeah I served in Army and was decorated. Question? Besides making crappy movies what you done for country, Paul? So take your foot and shove in your mouth, because allot of GB fans are more me that what you say we are. Ok Two. Your movies are terrible Mr. Feig. There just gender swapped versions of popular movies. So creativity here Paul. So in summary. I have desire to see this flotsam of movie.

  9. Maxxyblue says

    Yeah, umm, I’m sure there are maybe a handful of people who won’t see it for the fact it stars four women, but I’m fairly sure the majority of people going “oh God. No. Just no,” get their opinion from the trailer.

  10. Allen Rubinstein says

    I just have no interest in retreads, which is about all Hollywood makes these days. I skipped the second Independence Day, the second fish cartoon, the sixth Ninja Turtles, the ninth X-Men, the twelfth Batman and the 55th Tarzan (yes, I counted). I regularly tell people that graphic novels have what movies used to have – original stories and real artistic expression.

    Have fun at your mildly amusing toy commercial, everyone!

  11. says

    I’m still not sure if I’ll see it or not. My reason though is simple. Why the hell did they make the same damn film?
    Why is it set in New York City? Seriously, you know there are other cities in America and a different location would have IMMEDIATELY given it a new look, a new feel (even though the characters look like retreads) and could have created new and different ghosts that would be from that area.
    Why the same lineup? Each of the four look like cookie cutters from the original, Why?

    I don’t understand making a remake for a film that’s easily accessible on DVD, the net, cable, etc… and making it a carbon copy. WHY? Make it different. make it distinctive.

  12. George says

    I really doubt so many guys would be attacking this movie — without seeing it — if it starred Seth Rogen, James Franco and their fellow dudebros. They’d be first in line for that!

  13. James Van Hise says

    Reviews were embargoed until today and now it is 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics seem surprised that it is actually good after all of the negative reaction to the trailers. I plan to see it but of all the talented black actresses in Hollywood they chose one whose stock in trade is playing an annoying black stereotype, but maybe she’ll downplay that in the film.

  14. says

    I saw a preview screening. As a movie, it’s okay. Some real high points, some real dull parts. It’s much better when it tries to be a horror flavoured comedy, then when it turns into an action movie for a few minutes at a time. It’s edited horribly, one of the worst editing jobs I’ve ever seen. Entire scenes have been removed and their absence is felt. Characters react subsequently to events that aren’t even in the final cut of the movie. The 3D is great, and I’ve only ever said that about a handful of movies.

    The characters are fun. They’re not a rehash of the originals. They have their own personalities. Just because the racial ratio is the same, doesn’t mean the individuals are the same. The more they get to improvise, the better they are. Wiig and McCarthy’s characters are the two that drive the plots and as a result they’re actually the weaker of the four. Because the plot is awful. The story is good, and the dialogue is good, sometimes really good, but the plot that links them is a mess. Mostly due to the editing I mentioned above.

    The cameos are too much. They completely stop the story, when they should really just be background flavour. They feel very unnecessary. Except for Harold Ramis; his cameo is just right.

    There’s way too much Hemsworth, which is too bad, because he’d have been great in a small dose.

    But it’s still a fun movie when all is said and done, and I’d recommend people go see it. You’ll have a good time, but you won’t be talking about this one in 25 years time. And the one thing that is never, ever an issue — EVER — is the gender of the main characters. It doesn’t drive the story. It doesn’t detract from the story. It’s not important to the story at all. If you end up disliking the movie, and I can see why some people will, this shouldn’t be the reason behind it.

  15. Cerberus says

    This is a growing trend of taking a film ruining it !!! no one went to see the orginal because it had 4 men in it!! ,,,who goes to see a film based on that? … this sort of film is made because lack of imagination and ends up ruining the whole thing (look at what happened to Battlestar Galatica) but the producers etc now have a excuse when it flops …. “well the reason it flops because your sexist” etc … its sad that women allow this …think how stupid sex in the city would be with a all male cast

  16. JayBee says

    Of course woman have always been funny. And looking forward to seeing the new Ghostbusters.
    NOTE: Seth Rogan is a laugh riot. His films are not always.

  17. Erik says

    “Reviews were embargoed until today and now it is 76% on Rotten Tomatoes.” While this is true, their “Top Critics” are split right down the middle at 50% and Metacritic’s aggregate score is 64/100 (for comparison Bridesmaids was a top critic 85% and Metacritic 75/100). Reviews for this can be twisted to suit either argument.

  18. George says

    The Beat Herself said: “Women were funny before 1931 even, Pretty sure of that.”

    You’re right about that, Heidi. Check out Mabel Normand’s silent comedies on YouTube. (Dozens can be viewed.) In the 1910s, she was as popular as Chaplin. Other silent actresses such as Clara Bow, Mary Pickford and Colleen Moore were also primarily comedians.

  19. says

    As a big fan of Love & Rockets saying that McKinnon’s Jillian reminds you of Hopey Glass is probably the best kind of recommendation for me to see this film. :-)

    Speaking of which, when is someone finally going to take a crack at making a Love & Rockets movie? Last I heard there was some work being done to adapt the Palomar storyline, but I would love to see Hopey & Maggie on the big screen (or HBO tv show?).

  20. Kyle Pinion says

    Heidi is 120% on the money about the McKinnon-Hopey thing. Also, the movie is a good deal of fun. I too recommend it.

  21. Eva Hopkins says

    Most of the complaints from people who say they won’t go see the new “Ghostbusters” movie sound similar in tone. Female Ghostbusters “shits on your childhood”? Ya know what, cry me a river; so sorry for your childhood if that one movie was your sole shiny memory.

    The original “Ghostbusters” was a helluva thing. Changing it up a little doesn’t take anything away from the original. & it means little girls, just like little boys, now play Ghostbusters & feel like there’s someone there can can relate to, or possibly be one day.

    https://www.facebook.com/eva.hopkins.18/posts/10210126522749628?pnref=story

    …and anyone who uses “feminazis” & describes women as “females” – know that smart people just tune you out after that. We’re reading y ur words & then all of a sudden it turns into BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH, because those are tired terms that make your point of view known with no additional effort needed.

    There’s remakes of stuff all the time & nobody complains at all. Initially the remade “Battlestar Galactica” series made longtime fans mad by casting Starbuck as a woman but the series went on to become a commercial & critical success.

    Would it be deeply, truly excellent if Hollywood took more chances & funded more independent properties? Of course it would! Why these angry, impassioned fans of the cinema arts don’t speak up about that for *other* Big Dumb Fun type summer movies, I’m sure I have no idea. It wouldn’t be because this has 4 female leads, would it? Nah, of course not – why, that would be sexist, & all these mega-earnest Ghostbusters fans *aren’t* sexist, couldn’t be sexist.

    The trailers didn’t knock my socks off. I almost wonder if that was very clever long-game marketing done by director Feig & co. By putting out a couple of flat but not outright awful trailers, expectations are lowered. Lowered expectations = pleasant surprise when viewing the movie & it’s better than expected. Maybe?

    Gonna go be seeing it. Haters, to the left…

  22. Other Chris says

    It just doesn’t look funny, and I refuse to give this film any credit for being socially forward when they’ve got Leslie Jones cooning it up. You can’t be progressive in one way, regressive in several other ways and expect me to respect it. The producers are feeding off of the “controversy”, and hoping to sell tickets to those who see this film as some kind of protest against misogyny. Some of us are more discerning than that.

  23. Sean Belt says

    I’m really amazed at the vitriol this movie has stirred up. My gosh… I mean… it’s just a movie. I’ll probably see it and decide afterwards if I liked it or not. I’m open-minded even though I loved the first Ghostbusters. Everyone, take a breath. Get some perspective. If you don’t want to see it, then don’t. If you only like the original, watch that. If you like this movie, then great. If not, you’ve only spent a couple of hours and a few dollars on it. Worse things have happened to you, I guarantee it. I had to laugh particularly at the comment above about it “pukes on the Ghostbusters brand.” As if that brand was ever about anything except making money. If this makes money (and it will) then they’ve achieved everything that could have been expected of them.

  24. MBunge says

    Saw it. It’s bad. As bad as Ghostbusters 2? Well, that’s a very low bar to get under, but it’s poorly conceived, atrociously plotted and blahly executed. This is going to be like The Phantom Menace where some people will want so much for it to be good that they’ll convince themselves it is, and then a year or six months from now everyone will agree that it pretty much sucked.

    And it doesn’t suck because it stars women but certain folks would be a lot less forgiving if it starred men.

    Mike

  25. Mel says

    “GHOSTBUSTERS opens with a “solid but not stellar” $45M, in second place behind SECRET LIFE OF PETS. Looks like it will do OK but not great at the box office.”

    That’s….. kind of worrisome. Maybe it might hopefully go back up?

  26. MBunge says

    It dropped 60% on it’s first Monday, which is not disastrous but would put it on pace to NOT make back its production costs in U.S. box office. The INDEPENDENCE DAY sequel was an even bigger piece of crap and its going to make over $100 million, so GHOSTBUSTERS will need to go over that by a good bit.

    This weekend has the new ICE AGE, new STAR TREK and a wide release horror flick. GHOSTBUSTERS probably needs to drop less than 50% and come in a solid third to have a chance at making money.

  27. MBunge says

    Haters win. Ghostbusters 2016 is expected to lose 70 million dollars when all is said and done.

    Mike

  28. Steve Reeve says

    I dont’ understand why Heidi hasn’t updated this report to reflect the film’s commercial failure.

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