There was always going to be some form of controversy surrounding the remake of such a beloved eighties movie, but I don’t think anyone quite expected the backlash that this gender-swapped version of Ghostbusters received. Unfortunately, for die-hard fans, a female fronted remake was an insult to the original, and whilst this isn’t the best film to ever come out of Hollywood by any means, it definitely does not deserve the criticism it received.
Ghostbusters (2016) follows Erin (Kristen Wiig), a science professor on the verge of getting her tenure at her university, who soon discovers that a forgotten book about the paranormal she co-wrote has surfaced on the internet. In a bid to get it removed and avoid the falter of her reputation as a scientist she reunites with her old friend and co-author Abby (Melissa McCarthy) who is obsessed with proving the existence of ghosts. Erin soon gets dragged into a paranormal investigation with Abby and her colleague Jillian (Kate McKinnon) which vindicates Abby’s beliefs and encourages Erin to join forces with her in investigating the supernatural. Strange apparitions sequentially begin appearing across Manhattan and the team must put a stop to it. They recruit Patty (Leslie Jones), who knows the city, to aid them in their quest.
Fortunately, to the film’s benefit, this is not a rehash of the 1980s original. If it had been, it would have been a disaster. Instead they have opted for different characters, a different storyline and have modernised it to give it some new life. The characters themselves are intelligent and quirky women, something not often seen in big Hollywood blockbusters, and this creates an endearing look into the comedy that women can create.
All of the women in this are funny in their own right, however, the standout actress for us is Kate McKinnon. She is not your cliché comedy character. She is an engineer with strange ideas, no fear of danger or consequence, and holds great wit and intelligence. She provides the most genuine laughs that aren’t the expected and overdone jokes, and she is something not yet portrayed in the female comedy film thus far. McCarthy and Wiig recreate their famous comedy get ups as seen in Bridesmaids, however the characters they are playing don’t have a unique a quality as McKinnon’s character to be the stars of the film, which is the aim. Jones’ character unfortunately is too stereotypical and predictable to warrant praise. Jones herself is fine as Patty, but the writing has let her potential as a comedy actress down.
One thing which has the ability to appease the Ghostbusters purists are the cameos from the original cast members and references to the first movie. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver all appear in the movie, albeit in small doses, but clearly shows the film has their seal of approval, which many believed it did not.
Overall, the new Ghostbusters has shaken up the franchise and given it a new lease of life, but is completely unremarkable as a standalone feature. We cannot help but make comparisons to the original film and unfortunately, whilst the creators certainly haven’t made a bad film, it is average at best, and doesn’t ooze the same charm and fun the original did.
We give Ghostbusters (2016) 3 stars for providing a fun and entertaining watch, but lacking the oomph one would expect from the reboot of such a beloved franchise.