Rebooting a beloved movie is always a tricky proposition. You have to bring the right elements through from the original without it seeming like a tired rehashing, with the knowledge that fans will be scrutinizing every detail. The new Ghostbusters has certainly generated a lot of discussion since it was first announced, and I didn’t know what to expect walking in, other than that knowing that Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones are two of my very favorite Saturday Night Live cast members, and that Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig have well-documented comedic chemistry. I may be a skeptical ’80s child who grew up with Ghostbusters, but I was really looking forward to seeing what this generation of comics would do with the story.
The film opens with academic Erin (Wiig) finding her career in jeopardy after a ghost from her past appears – namely, a book she wrote on paranormal activity with childhood friend Abby (McCarthy). After confronting Abby in an attempt to get the book shelved, Erin finds herself reluctantly drawn into a haunted house with Abby and new friend Jillian (McKinnon), an eccentric inventor. Once confronted by an actual spirit, the threesome decided to band together and use their skills to procure hard scientific evidence of the paranormal. They set up an office and hire dumb-as-rocks receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), and are soon joined by Patty (Jones), who comes to their office after seeing a ghost in the subway during a shift at work. With Patty’s knowledge of NYC history, Jillian’s inventions, Erin’s scientific mind, and Abby’s passion, they set out on adventure to find ghosts – and possibly save the world while they’re at it.
Ghostbusters stars out a little slow with a bit of toilet humor in the first few minutes, but quickly picks up the pace and turns into an extremely funny movie. Much has been made of the female cast with the implication that it was simply done to be “Politically correct”, but I disagree with that. There are a few self-referential jokes about the fan criticisms, along with a few funny trope reversals – vacuous receptionist Kevin is hired by the Ghostbusters simply because they think he’s hot, not because he has any skill – but for the most part, there’s nothing overtly feminist about this movie; it’s told from a casual female perspective, in the same way that most other movies are written casually from a male point of view as the default. I found that really refreshing, and the bottom line is that the cast are just funny individuals. Hemsworth also proves himself to be a great comedic actor, with a hysterical introduction scene that was mostly improvised.
The film pays due respect to its fans, filled with Easter eggs and cameos – make sure you stay all the way through the credits until the very end! Ghostbusters retains a nostalgic charm while bringing enough freshness with the cast and characters to prevent it from being a dull rerun. It was downright spooktacular!
Ghostbusters hits theaters today, July 15th!