Ghostbusters (2016)

Kristen Wiig

Melissa McCarthy

reviewed by Tom-Tom

starstar

 

The hype for the new Ghostbusters film was epic. There were leaked pictures of Chris Hemsworth, set footage. And let’s not forget the preemptive haters and lovers who argued furiously online about everything from the casting to what may or not happen. Remakes seem the coin of the realm these days with great ones, weird ones, and horrible cringe-inducing ones. Let’s step back and remember the original film for a moment. It was great. A perfect mix of comedy, horror, weirdness, and fun scientific speeches by Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis which was balanced by the pseudo-scientist Bill Murray who was just in it for the girls and cash. His everyman stance put us in the screen powered up by Eddie Hudson’s even more practical and pure everyman “I have seen shit which would turn you white!” Let’s not forget Annie Potts as the underworked (at first) and overworked secretary with the most memorable accent ever and Rick Moranis as the overbearing neighbor with an obvious crush on Sigourney Weaver. Somehow it all worked. I remember when HBO was free and it showed this movie over and over again. Even me, the crybaby of the family could handle its scares eventually except for the skeletal taxi driver. That dude still freaks me out.

The newest Ghostbusters film opens interestingly enough, not a library this time but a supposedly haunted home of an old rich New York family with an insane murderess among its colorful history. It passes on the tradition of not jumping the shark but instead showing us the terror in the face of the witness of the supernatural. The scene changes to Kristen Wiig’s character Erin Gilbert attempting to impress Charles Dance, who makes as convincing a University Dean as a Lannister in his quietly intimidating way. Events lead her to seek out Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon playing Abby Yates and Jillian Holtzmann respectively. Unfortunately this is where the film takes a tip for the worst. I keep imagining some idiotic brainstorming session in which writers, worried about the naysaying stupid white males of the world, decide in a burst of inspiration, “Hey let’s put in some fart jokes and make fun of a guy by saying he pooped his pants. Yeah, that’ll appease the masses.” It takes amazing writing skills to reinvent the fart and poop joke and unfortunately, it ain’t here, folks. It’s a shame, really. McKinnon is super great as Jillian with her off-beat comments and googly eyes through big round glasses. She at least has her character down. Wiig and McCarthy are all over the place with no discernible pattern of their characters other than a past friendship which isn’t really well fleshed out.

The true joy of this film comes about 30-40 minutes in with the hiring of Leslie Jones as Patty Tolan and Chris Hemsworth as Kevin. Patty is the most original component of the whole movie, a true New Yorker, who knows every nook and cranny and the history behind it. She’s positive and has a winning smile that lights up every scene she’s in. She’s the first real person we see, a true everywoman, every person. And who knew Chris Hemsworth had it in him to be such a hilarious soft spoken comedian. I like that they let him use his natural down under accent. The earnestness in his horn-rimmed spectacles as he asks which picture makes him look more like a doctor, “Speaking to the saxophone or listening to the saxophone” is belly laugh inducing more than any fart jokes between McCarthy and Wiig could pull out. As for the plot, I actually liked the original way they attempted to give for the breakout of ghosts although the contrived, overly blown up way they resolve everything was very unsatisfying. I wanted to like, to love this movie. I gave it my best shot. I even rewatched it with the voices dubbed in Japanese to see if it, like some other American comedies gone wrong, it could be saved by dubbed translation. Nothing doing. Fart jokes are bad in at least two languages, it seems, if not all. I was moved by the original cast cameos and Wiig and McCarthy’s characters renewing their friendship but for me, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, and Kate McKinnon steal the heavily flawed, mostly poorly written show.

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