Ghostbusters (2016)

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In all my years of watching and loving films, I have never come across something quite like the reaction to the reboot of Ghostbusters, particularly the pre-mature response by many people who would refuse to see this film for a variety of reasons. I have never seen so much hatred thrown at a film, mainly by those that didn’t even watch the film. From the very first moment the trailer was released online, Ghostbusters was doomed – not because it is a bad film, but because there was not a chance that everyone will get behind it. Many proposed that the reboot of Ghostbusters would be “the worst remake in history” – and I am almost entirely sure those who said that did not actually go and watch the film, and rather chose to continue flinging insults at a film that didn’t actually deserve the bitterness it received. Ghostbusters is not a bad film by any means – in fact, it is an utterly delightful and wonderfully funny reboot to one of the greatest comedy films of all time.

I don’t want this entire review to be about the response to this film, so I will discuss the elephant in the room right here, before moving onto the review of the film itself. The original Ghostbusters film is a classic of comedy cinema – it was part of the reason we have science fiction comedies to this very day. The quartet of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson are part of cinema history for their performances in the original film. There is absolutely no reason to deny the fact that the original Ghostbusters is iconic and an important cornerstone of comedy filmmaking. What we do need to admit, however, is that Ghostbusters is not completely untouchable – there are very few films that should not be touched, and Ghostbusters is not one of them. As iconic as the original film was, it isn’t some piece of art that shouldn’t ever be tampered with – and while I do agree that the original Ghostbusters is almost pitch-perfect, rebooting it was not some crime against humanity like many people made it seem. I will be perfectly clear here – I am not someone who will call everyone who hated the rebooted Ghostbusters – everyone is entitled to their opinion. I have read some truly convincing and well-written reasoning by a few people who disliked the film. My issue is not with them. My issue is with those that piled unneeded nastiness atop this film without even giving it a vague chance.

Let’s be honest here (and I am preparing for the onslaught of nastiness by people who deny this fact) – many people were just unhappy with the fact that the roles were now occupied by four women. That is the honest truth, and I have truly seen the lowest forms of insult when reading some of the reactions to this film. Many refuse to claim this is their reason for hating the film, but it is clear that the vast majority of people who threw unnecessary insults towards this film were doing so because the roles were not as they remembered them, and they could not accept that their beloved characters were now played by women. Once again, this isn’t a criticism of those that actually have relevant reasons for disliking this film – some have claimed the story is weak, others claim the film is unoriginal, amongst other things. These are opinions I disagree with, but still respect. The “opinions” I do not respect are those that just needlessly complain about this film because of the performers in the lead roles – and I actually wonder if the majority of these “opinions” are actually true, because if every single person who claimed this was “the worst remake in film history” actually went to see the film, Ghostbusters wouldn’t be on the way to becoming a box-office failure, unfortunately.

Now that we’ve addressed that issue, let’s get onto the film itself. Part of the reason many people disliked this film, as I said before, is that the roles were played by women. I can understand if the roles were occupied by overly-attractive, amateur models-turned-actresses, but when you have four of the most talented women in comedy right now in the lead roles, it boggles my mind that people would not believe in this film. Added to that, you have Paul Feig at the helms, one of the most talented and brilliant filmmakers working in comedy today – from the very moment I heard of this film’s development, I was already excited – there was very little chance a film starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, directed by Paul Feig, would not be something special.

Feig has previously directed three other films: Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy. These films all have one thing in common – they are all amongst the best comedy films released in their respective years. The Heat was #7 on my favorite comedy films of 2013 list, Bridesmaids #5 on my list of The Best Films of 2011, and Spy, as you will remember, was the film I named as the Best Film of 2015 earlier this year – Feig directs great quality films that are endlessly entertaining – and having taken three original stories and turning them into something wonderful, there wasn’t any doubt that Feig was the man to translate the iconic Ghostbusters onto screens for the new generation, and rebooting the beloved story. I cannot think of a filmmaker working in comedy today (other than perhaps Judd Apatow) that frequently makes films of such high caliber, and Feig is certainly heading in the direction of being one of the best comedy filmmakers working today – yet there was doubt in his ability to bring it to the screen. I will not pretend that I am some prophetic cinephile, but even when the trailer to this film got a muted reaction (even from some trusted voices), I still held onto hope that Feig would deliver – and even as my heart sank with the hatred piled upon this film, I knew that Feig would turn out a great film – and while Ghostbusters doesn’t reach the same level as Spy and Bridesmaids (close to masterpieces, in my opinion), it certainly is a fantastic film, and another great addition to Feig’s growing list of wonderfully made comedy films.

I understand that most members of the audience don’t pay much attention to the directors of films (except if your name happens to be Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese or Christopher Nolan), so it is wishful thinking that audiences would be driven towards Ghostbusters based on the fact that Feig was directing it. However, as we have already stated, the four leads are recognizable and have multitudes of fans – Melissa McCarthy has risen to be one of the most acclaimed and reliable actresses of the past few years, and even through her worst films, she is still becoming a true movie star, and not even less-than-great fare like Tammy or The Boss can dampen the fact that McCarthy is a solid actress. She even defied the odds and had a considerable awards-run for her breakout performance in Feig’s Bridesmaids, even earning herself an Academy Award nomination – if that isn’t proof that Feig and McCarthy are a match made in heaven, consider the fact that Spy allowed McCarthy to give one of the greatest comedic performances of the past few years. Let me be blunt – speaking to a few people about Ghostbusters recently, many of them said they were “tired of McCarthy’s shtick” and that she “always plays the same character” – and while the McCarthy we know from Bridesmaids, Tammy and Identity Thief are an acquired taste, there is absolutely nothing similar to her performance in Spy, and even less her in Ghostbusters. McCarthy may not give her best performance here, but she is definitely solid and continues to be one of the most fascinating actresses working today. Kristen Wiig spent many years as the flagship star of Saturday Night Live, and with her male counterpart, Bill Hader, Wiig gave a beautifully funny and heartbreaking performance in The Skeleton Twins two years ago. While she hasn’t ascended to the stardom that McCarthy has (although also having received an Academy Award nomination, for writing Bridesmaids), Wiig has also chosen some amazing projects. McCarthy and Wiig have amazing chemistry, and led Ghostbusters brilliantly, and to my surprise, they weren’t even the best part of the cast.

For many people, Ghostbusters will serve as their introduction to two performers that may be slightly more obscure, but still notable and brilliant. Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, who currently serve as performers on Saturday Night Live, are the breakout stars of this film. The are responsible for some of the funniest moments in the film, and they steal almost every scene they are in. Jones is very funny, and her personality has made her an unexpectedly popular hit on Saturday Night Live, but it is McKinnon that is the reason to watch Saturday Night Live, and in her big Hollywood breakthrough, she is an absolute riot in Ghostbusters – her performance as Jillian Holtzmann is just truly extraordinary, and even though I adore McKinnon from her work elsewhere, I found myself still being surprised at how good she was here. Her performance here is exactly what a true breakout is made of, and I sincerely hope she gets more offers, because if there is a true and genuine comedic talent, it is McKinnon. Chris Hemsworth, surprisingly, isn’t terrible, and the supporting cast is as good as one would expect from the talent Feig rounded up. I will leave the cameos a secret, but they are most definitely worth the price of admission.

I feel like I am not going to sway anyone to change their perception about Ghostbusters – but for what its worth, I do think it is a great film. The writing is solid, and even if it is a tad long, it doesn’t ever drag, and it is frequently smart and snappy, making for some truly entertaining cinema. Despite some truly committed performances and wonderful filmmaking, it isn’t nearly as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It may not be remembered as highly as Feig’s other films, but I do think that the involvement of virtually everyone from the original film does mean some serious effort went into it. It feels like the original cast and crew, through their approval of this film, gave their blessing to this new generation of Ghostbusters, passing it along into new and very capable hands. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Ghostbusters is a great film, and I stand by my statement – it is much better than the negative response would lead you to believe. Ghostbusters is a great film, and compared to some of the far more bleak blockbusters thrown at us this year, Ghostbusters is certainly one of the better ones. I urge everyone to go and see this film, supporting it – this is great filmmaking, and while I don’t normally like sequels, this is one film that I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel to – but the diminishing box-office makes this unlikely – regardless, it is still a fun and entertaining film that has a lot of heart, and despite the hatred this film has endured, it has still emerged on top, in a way. A great film, and one I really enjoyed, and it is just another reminder that Paul Feig is one of the most extraordinary comedy directors working today, and the four leads are incredibly talented and should be given opportunities that their talents deserve, and hopefully Ghostbusters can prove that they can sustain a major film.

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