Review: ‘Ghostbusters’ Oozing With Freshness, Frights, And Fun

Sony Pictures is set to release Ghostbustersdirected by Paul Feig, across the country this Thursday night. Those who have been up in arms that this film is meant to replace the original version are 100% off base. Feig’s film is, in many ways, a love letter to the film’s heritage, a bridge to the past, that also blazes a new trail for the future. While the film’s detractors (GhostBros) have accused the director of killing the franchise; he, in fact, has revived the franchise for a new generation of fans. Ghostbusters is oozing with freshness, filled with frivolity, and full of frights.

The film starts off at Columbia University, and we are introduced to Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) who is a highly respected science professor that’s on the verge of making tenure. Right before she’s to meet with the board to decide her tenure, a book she co-wrote with her former friend, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), about the paranormal surfaces online. She ends ups confronting her about this and during that confrontation is introduced to a nuclear engineer named Jullian Holtzman (Kate Mckinnon). Abby agrees to take the book offline if Erin is willing to help them investigate a reported paranormal sighting at an old mansion. In a scene reminiscent of the library scene in the original 1984 film, the gang encounters a ghost and Erin ends up on the receiving the business end of projectile slime.

GhostbustersWhile this is transpiring, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) is working a ticket booth at a subway stop when she witnesses a mysterious man (Neil Casey) jump on the tracks and run down the tunnel. Patty chases the man down the tunnel only to have her own close encounter of the paranormal kind. This experience leads her to the Ghostbusters office where she meets Kevin (the male receptionist played by Chris Hemsworth) and the rest of the team. The girls find a common purpose and decide to join forces and combat the paranormal activity going on in New York City.

Feig makes a concerted effort to connect to past heritage of this movie with this new narrative. The obvious example of this would be the cameos from every living cast member of the 1984 film (except for Rick Moranis, who’s left Hollywood behind). Even Harold Ramis makes a cameo in a touching way.

This movie even goes as far as to emulate some of the cinematography that was used in the original film. We see some of the same tight shots of Ecto one racing down the highway just like in the original film. They even emulate some of the city shots that we saw remember from 1984. Director of Photography Robert D. Yeoman follows the example set forth by László Kovács and uses shots of the city skyline to show the enormity of the city as well as it’s beauty. Yeoman blends those shots of the city with such precision and attention to detail that the city becomes another character in the film. To go to these great lengths certainly, doesn’t show any malice to the Ghostbusters franchise or fans as a whole. If anything, this film is Paul Feig’s love letter to the Ghostbusters fandom and serves as a bridge between its past and blazes a trail for the films future.

Do not go into this film expecting to see Ghostbusters 3. Katie Dippold and Paul Feig’s humor is a different brand of humor than that of Aykroyd and Ramis. They wrote humor that funneled through Bill Murray and Aykroyd while Dippold and Feig’s humor is evenly distributed amongst the cast. Of course, Murray and Aykroyd are phenomenal in the original film, but they carry the biggest comedic burden in the film. In Dippold and Feig’s version, not one person takes more of the comedic weight than the other. Does that mean that one version is funnier than the rest? No, each version is funny in its own way.

The best performances belong to both Kate Mckinnon and Leslie Jones. Mckinnon brings a physicality to the film both comedically and during the action sequences. Jones is a typhoon of comedy whenever she’s on screen. She’s hilarious an brings a sense of frivolity to every scene that she was in that made the film even more enjoyable. These two dynamic personalities bring chemistry and charisma to every scene they’re in together.

My one complaint with the film stems from the lack of chemistry between Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. Anytime those two have a scene together, the lines feel a bit stiff and rigid. Now, this may have been how they wanted to portray their respective characters (these two are socially inept), but it detracts. The biggest surprise of the film has to be the comedic performance of Chris Hemsworth. Audiences got a small taste of his comedic abilities when he played Audrey Griswold’s love interest in the National Lampoons Vacation reboot (if anyone bothered to watch that mess). Chris’s portrayal of the dimwitted receptionist Kevin provided some of the biggest laughs.

Ghostbusters is the embodiment of why people go to the movies to begin with. This film is a solid, entertaining film from the onset all the way to final credits (stay till the very end). Audiences will leave the theater smiling and in this day and age .. there’s nothing wrong with that.

Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.