We know the backdrop to the recent release of “Ghostbusters”: ridiculous internet-fueled fear of *gasp* women being cast in the remake of a beloved film. The only sin here is the existence of a remake, not the composition of its cast. If you didn’t post more message board vitriol when Colin Farrell replaced Arnold Schwarzenegger in the “Total Recall” reboot, then I hate you.
Like the Key and Peele vehicle “Keanu”, “Ghostbusters” left me with a feeling of unreached potential. I wish the four comedians who starred in “Ghostbusters” would be in a different film, unbound by the restrictions and big shoes of a remake to a beloved movie. This film had few big laughs and fewer moments of originality; just a bad script interrupted by some decent scenes.
But the crux of any team story is the chemistry between the characters, and “Ghostbusters” benefited from the likability of the four actresses. I enjoyed how the characters fit together – the core duo of Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) were old friends who wrote a book on the supernatural, only to later part ways when Wiig tried to go legit. Yates continued to work outside of academia and got a new partner in Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). They were later joined by non-scientist transit worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) whose credentials were that she knew New York City well and that she was capable of obtaining a car. It was a bit forced, and the writers missed an opportunity for her to develop into the Ghostbusters’ resident detective. But they did really need a car.
Each of the four ghostbusters each had their own personality, but only one of them – Holtzmann – had a big personality, which is not enough. The others were sometimes “straight men”, sometimes not. That made the moments when even the straight characters become unbound seem bizarrely out of character. For example, when Erin Gilbert crazily approached the mayor it was unlike the rest of the film.
The character of Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) did not go deeper than a dumb handsome man being the Ghostbusters’ receptionist. That’s fine for what it’s worth, but he became so integral to the plot that I tired of the one-note humor. If that’s all a character is going to be, limit him to a couple minutes, not a couple acts.
Special effects fatigue has weighed heavily on me the last few years, especially in cartoony action films like “Ghostbusters” or any movie in the Marvel Universe. Here I was not overwhelmed. There was even a clever 2-D animation sequence close to the climactic showdown! Of course, there were plenty of special effects at the end, but it’s a movie about millions of ghosts blanketing NYC, so what can ya do?
“Ghostbusters” was not a great film. It was too much of a mess, too uneven, had a weak villain and too much Hemsworth. It could wait for the dollar theater, where I would pay $1.25, but be sure to sneak in some ghost Dots.