When I first read about a new Ghostbusters movie being developed for release in 2016 I felt physically uneasy. Why would a movie studio chance ruining the beloved 1984 comedy classic? Shortly thereafter it was announced the Ghostbusters reboot would be an original story featuring four women instead of men in the lead roles. Fan reaction to the news was largely unfavorable. The movie seemed more of a publicity gimmick than an artistic endeavor. Despite the controversy, I made a concerted effort to reserve judgement until actually seeing the new film. Besides, Ghostbusters (2016) had a stellar cast of female comedy veterans.
How’s the Story?
It’s a mildy entertaining Summer Movie diversion rather than a compelling thrill ride. Comparisons aside to the original movie, Ghostbusters 2016 presents an origin story with a modern female viewpoint of the world. The dialogue can be witty at times, especially some of the ad-libbed interaction between the main characters. The thin plot exists mainly to push the elaborate special effects and comedic scenes along. The story feels very compartmentalized rather than organic in flow. You’ll laugh at the banter and dazzled by the visual wizardry but not be necessarily emotionally engaged by the story or characters.
How are the Characters?
The Ghostbusters (2016) cast faced an uphill battle. More so than any special effect, the original cast was key to creating the 1984 comedy classic. On paper, the cast of the 2016 movie should have been a sure thing. Instead, the writing feels disjointed and the lead actors interactions are awkward at times. It’s similar to comedy improvisation when it’s not working. Kristen Wiig’s character seems the best developed while the others are merely partly formed or one note. For example, the character of Holtzman played by Kate Mckinnon seemed completely improvised rather than scripted. The result? A lot of cringeworthy moments unfolded in each scene. Chris Hemsworth gave a confusing performance that wasn’t particularly funny or engaging. In his defense, I suspect they cast him in the role before a word of dialogue was written for his character—a perfect example of stunt casting versus actual character development. I imagine many of his scenes were edited out or repurposed as seen in the closing credits.
How are the Special Effects?
Given the original movie was produced in 1984, the 2016 version easily surpasses it from a technical standpoint. Still, the chemistry between the original stars created its own special on-screen magic which could not be replicated by the 2016 cast. The battle scenes in the original movie were more realistic given the lead characters always seemed over their heads. The 2016 cast finds itself facing a ridiculous deluge of enemy ghost combatants and somehow manages to miraculously fight them off with combat skills that would take years of training to master.
The movie’s rated PG-13. Can my kid see it?
Ghostbusters contains some strong language and sexual innuendo. Overall, it’s relatively harmless. I recommend kids aged 10 and up if only for the few moments of intense on-screen scares.
Any moments in the movie for a bathroom break?
Several. Given the thin plot line, you won’t miss much whenever you step out to answer nature’s call. To be safe, just do so up until the last 10 minutes of the movie.
Overall Rating: C+
Pros: Fun visual effects. When the comedy works, it works well.
Cons: Thin plot. Mediocre script. Poor character development. Over reliance on SFX rather than story.
Official Ghostbusters (2016) Trailer