REVIEW: ‘Ghostbusters’ full of laughs, nostalgia

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Ghostbusters, the Melissa McCarthy-Kristen Wiig led remake of the 1984 classic comedy, more or less successfully balances honoring the past with establishing its own character and identity.

It’s certainly not a perfect film, and it’s not even a perfect remake. Not every gag and one-liner hits its mark, and the film’s funniest moments arguably are delivered by members of the supporting cast.

But between the bits that do work, memorable cameos from the cast of the original films, and dazzling special effects, Ghostbusters should do just enough right to satisfy all but the most ardent devotees to the original.

What’s it about?

The setup should sound familiar. Scientists and childhood friends Abby (McCarthy) and Erin (Wiig) team up with oddball engineer Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and NYC transit worker Patty (Leslie Jones) to answer the call when ghosts start popping up around the five boroughs.

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At first, their work is discredited and ridiculed — they even draw celebrity paranormal debunkers to themselves as their efforts start to gain media attention. It’s not long, however, before all of New York witnesses the start of a supernatural apocalypse, and when stuff like that happens, well, who ya gonna call?

Ghostbusters one-sheet

Back off, haters – it actually works

Director Paul Feig (Spy, Bridesmaids) brings Ghostbusters to the screen full of love and reverence for the original film that bowed in theaters over 30 years go. The script, which Feig wrote along with Katie Dippold (The Heat, TV’s “Parks and Recreation“) follows the same general plot outline that the ’84 film did, but allows plenty of room for the new characters in the film to establish themselves and their reasons for becoming “Ghostbusters.”

While McCarthy and Wiig topline the film’s cast, theirs are perhaps the least interesting and funny characters in the ensemble. It’s SNL standouts McKinnon and Jones who carry some of the film’s funniest moments, along with Chris Hemsworth, who steals just about every scene playing Kevin, the team’s good-natured but utterly useless receptionist.

Oh, and then there are the cameos. Rest assured, OG Ghostbusters fans: the gang’s all here, even the late, great Harold Ramis, in moments that are sure to make you smile.

Impressive visual spectacle

The difference 32 years makes in terms of special effects technology is certainly evident in this new Ghostbusters. It’s important to note, however, that Feig as a director never lets all the digital spectacle — and there’s a considerable amount — overshadow his human cast. Unlike so many other would-be summer blockbusters with lots of money poured into computer-rendered eye candy, here the focus always remains squarely on the real people, and that’s a very good thing.

That said, the ghosts here, even fan-favorite Slimer, are truly impressive, and the mayhem on the streets of Times Square that dominates the film’s third act is a true treat for the eyes. It’s during that stretch that Slimer, along with a few other Ghosts of Ghostbusters Past, make their appearances, so once that train starts rolling, sit back and enjoy the nostalgia ride.

Worth seeing?

Forget all the purist ire this new Ghostbusters film stirred up when the first trailers debuted online months ago. All that bluster and hate just goes to show how much audiences who grew up with the original films and the 1986 cartoon series it inspired wanted a new installment, if there had to be one, to be good.

What Feig and his talented cast deliver in the 2016 Ghostbusters should quiet all that nonsense. Not every gag works, and it’s not as quotable as its hallowed predecessors, but it is fun, and it earns the right to carry on the brand into at least one inevitable sequel.

Ghostbusters

Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Charles Dance, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Chris Hemsworth. Directed by Paul Feig.
Running Time: 116 minutes
Rated PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor.

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Felix Albuerne
One-time Blockbuster Video manager, textbook editor, trivia host, and community college English/Humanities teacher. Now a digital media producer, part-time film critic, amateur foodie, semi-retired beer snob, unabashed geek, and still very much a work in progress.