“Ghostbusters” brings the undead and the unfunny

by Hunter Lanier on July 18, 2016 in Entertainment, Film,
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This reboot of the comedy classic has received a bulk of unearned ire from fans; as if the film, wearing a polo tucked into its khaki shorts, announced its betrothal to all their mothers and started calling them “sport.” And as with a stepfather, it’s important to remember that this film—good or bad—is not replacing the original. That will be 150 dollars and I suggest we extend our visits to three days a week.

This is a remake that we could have lived without. courtesy photos
This is a remake that we could have lived without. courtesy photos

The Ghostbusters are back, and once again, they do heavy recruiting at the “Saturday Night Live” offices. Erin Gilbert (Kristin Wiig) is a college professor on the verge of receiving tenure, if not for the resurfacing of her published works on the paranormal, which threaten her reputation. The sudden popularity of her book can be attributed to its co-author, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), who spends her days in a lab with enough doohickeys and thingamajigs to make Victor Frankenstein go cross-eyed. Abby’s Igor is Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), who, despite having a few screws loose herself, is a genius inventor. Once the three are united and begin the hunt, they recruit Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), partly because of her encyclopedic knowledge of New York City geography, but mostly because she believes in their mission. With the team together, they must work to foil the nefarious plot of Peter Lorre’s fast-food fueled doppelganger. 

GB_02As with any remake, reboot or sequel, the novelty of the original is lost. Whereas once the idea of four savants riding around in jumpsuits capturing ghosts felt offbeat and ripe for comedy, it now feels like a perfunctory exercise. Little change is brought to the table here, other than a special-effects upgrade and, obviously, it works off a new script with new players to carry it out. 

To put it simply, the majority of the jokes are dead on arrival — that explains where all the ghosts are coming from. A lot of the comedy stems from semi-clever observations, bordering on something you might hear audience members shout out. Luckily, the main cast are experts at ingesting and re-purposing bad material, most of them being “SNL” alumni. When Abby is rummaging through her mind, trying to come up with a reason to continue living, only to land on “soup,” and then turns to her friends for help, only for Patty to halfheartedly reply with “salad,” it works, but only for the delivery.

GB_01Empty spectacle has a new victim in “Ghostbusters.” No longer are four scientists standing in place and holding up a nuclear tractor beam enough. Now, the scientists have to transform into dead-eye gymnasts, blowing away apparitions like bottles on a fence, at which point they explode into a neon dust. All of this takes place in front of a theater playing “Fists of Fury,” so it’s certainly possible that being in the vicinity of a Bruce Lee film grants you his powers, though I cannot confirm this. 

To no one’s surprise, the film is rife with cameos from “Ghostbusters” veterans who aren’t named Rick Moranis. As cameos tend to be, they feel shoehorned and not particularly funny. There is a moment when a ghost hunting TV show comes on and Abby chastises such programs as an embarrassment to paranormal science. Would this not have been a prime opportunity to have the original Ghostbusters play the bogus, reality TV version of the real thing?

2.5 out of 5 stars