Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth
Directed by: Paul Feig
Cert: 12A Running Time: 114 minutes
Ah the vitriol, the haters, the online abuse – all over a simple movie remake. Remakes are ten a penny. So why the hate? Was the 1984 original Ghostbusters a comedy classic? Yes – it was huge and as a kid I remember the logo being plastered over everything I owned. We could not get enough. It was a massive hit and most of all it was great fun. The original team of Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Ackroyd and Ernie Hudson were great company and this “all female Ghostbusters” (the tag quickly attached as god knows we like to categorise), was immediately shot down. How could such a team be replicated? And by women no less? Shocking.
Well it turns out it can actually be replicated very well, for director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) has very cleverly assembled another group whose company any cinemagoer would be quite happy to spend time in. If the original was a mix of great comedy and great chemistry then so too is this, for I laughed out loud more times than in any other movie I’ve seen since Feig’s Spy last year. He knows what works, he knows what’s funny and most importantly he knows the best people to deliver those lines to us. Since they made Bridesmaids together, Feig has a knack of putting McCarthy in incredibly funny situations and have her work her magic. When paired with other strong female co-stars she is incredible and the four women together make for comedy gold.
While not a straight re-make, the film is treated as a new entity with new characters. The all-important backdrop of New York (for how could they set it anywhere else) is back and the film begins with a haunting in the Aldridge mansion, an old Victorian house stricken with the ghost of Sir Aldridge’s murderous daughter Gertrude. From the first scene the jokes are hilarious, particularly the one about Aldridge’s historical “anti-Irish security fence” which got howls of laughter at the screening I attended in Dublin. It’s a very funny joke and from there the script skips along from one funny set up to another and some very funny lines.
Asked to investigate the Aldridge haunting having co-written a book about the paranormal many years before, Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), (now set on a path of science and fact) must re-team with her former writing buddy Abby Yates (McCarthy) in order to quell the recent upsurge in interest in the book which is damaging her career. When all proves too true with a particularly slimy visit from Gertrude, Wiig finds herself jobless and so agrees to pursue her old passion along with her pal. Here she gets introduced to Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), the master inventor of their ghost hunting apparatus. McKinnon is a livewire like the proton packs she makes and she brings a freshness and energy to the threesome, a stark contrast to Wiig’s buttoned up conservative and McCarthy’s obsession with the ratio of won-tons to broth in her Chinese takeout (a very funny running gag). As the women set up office and hire a receptionist in the shape of Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) he opens up a whole new comic stream of hilarious with his dumber than dumb personality but incredibly nice to look at physique.
Mirroring the haters online, the Ghostbusters also face ridicule when they post footage of an apparition online. Immediately the haters are out and a line read by Wigg from their comments “ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts” is a succinct reminder that those people’s appetite for hating will never be sated. As McCarthy tells her “who cares what anybody else says about us”. They are there to do a job and they do it well. Leslie Jones, playing a subway worker called Patty is a lovely addition to the team. A firecracker, she takes no crap and plays an intelligent woman, who actually has a brain – in fact all of them do and they are pretty adept at using them.
Feig handles the action and the effects with flair. A running street battle in Times Square with the ghosts from the glory days of the city against the intrepid four is well orchestrated and entertaining and the finale while slightly overblown is still fun as the Ghostbusters do what they do best. Lovers of the old franchise will find nice nostalgic nods to the old with the Marshmallow Man and Slimer stealing their scenes along with a seal of approval as the original Ghostbusters make an appearance in cameos as new characters, with Ramis sadly remembered posthumously. However, it’s a nod to another time and the passing of the mantle.
So ignore the haters, get yourself along to the cinema and enjoy the first feel good summer blockbuster. You’ll not spend your money better this week. Oh and stay for the credits, there are even more laughs and the chance to witness Hemsworth bust a few moves.