Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

ghostbusters_ver6Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Charles Dance

Directed by Paul Feig

Sony, out now

I still ain’t ’fraid of no ghosts

The bad news is Ghostbusters isn’t perfect. The good news is its faults aren’t its fault. The great news is that it’s massive fun. Here’s why.

Those faults first. There is one of the most cackhanded third act edits I’ve ever seen here which I can only assume was done for time. Doctor Erin Gibert, played with fantastic twitchy intelligence by Kristen Wiig, has a plot beat missing. It doesn’t hurt the movie overall but trust me when you get to this moment you’ll see it. I look forward to the director’s cut with it dropped back in as well as, we can only hope, lots more of the other three cast members too.

Because this cast is flat out great. Wiig’s awkwardness and intelligence are the centre of the script but the heart of it is all four of the leads. Leslie Jones is fantastic as local history expert Patty Tolan, Melissa McCarthy plays neatly against type as the buttoned down Doctor Abby Yates and Kate McKinnon steals the entire movie as Doctor Jillian Holtzmann. McKinnon is just electric to watch; cheerfully dancing to the beat of her own, odds are nuclear-powered drum.

Also worth noting are Chris Hemsworth also playing delightfully against type as their idiot receptionist Kevin and a positively gleeful turn from Andy Garcia as the mayor while Neil Casey is surprisingly unsettling as the villain, Rowan. To say more would be to give him away but he’s a grounded, disturbing antagonist and gives the film more edge than you might expect.

ghostbustersThe team are what you’ve come for though and they do not disappoint. The four are so smart and fun and charming that the movie barrels over its editing problems like Ecto 1 over a pothole. Their friendship is very funny, their interactions with the mayor of New York are even funnier and the moments of seriousness all land: Holtzmann gets two, both of which are honestly moving while the fractured partnership that Abby and Erin used to have is what drives the movie. Even the cameos are graceful and funny, with almost the entire original cast returning. For me, the first and last cameos are the best though, and do stay through the end credits. It’s worth it.

If there’s any other problem with the movie it’s in the nature of the beast. McCarthy, whose free-form profanity in The Heat and Spy is a thing of beauty, is under-used here and there’s a sense of her and Jones in particular both being capable of more.

But these are minor issues, nothing more. The truth is this: Paul Feig and Katie Dippold have not only paid homage to the original but rebuilt it for a new audience and a new century. They’ve not destroyed anything, they’ve not ridden roughshod over anyone’s precious memories. Instead they’ve made something old new again in a brilliant and surprisingly joyful way.

Verdict: Go see it. It’s what Holtzmann would do. 9/10

Alasdair Stuart

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