I just wasted two hours of my life giving Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig the benefit of the doubt and finding out the doubts are well-founded. Ghostbusters is a retool of the 1984 hit of the same name originally staring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroid, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson and which, despite mediocre reviews, was well-received by the public and enjoyed a huge box office. The new film starring McCarthy, Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones garnered mixed reviews and had a solid opening weekend, but didn’t win the box office. The tepid response is justified as Ghostbusters was a painful two-hour torture session.
When it was announced that Ivan Reitman was producing a re-boot of his 1984 Ghostbusters blockbuster only this time with an all-female principle cast, I was skeptical. I do not like the trend of rebooting established film classics as all of the retreads I have seen have not only failed miserably, but have tarnished the memory of the original. I also see no reason for the gender reversal. There was nothing misogynistic about an all-male team of paranormal investigators, but to have an all-female team seems to be in keeping of a trend to re-gender the pop culture of America. I would have preferred to see an integrated team. Anyway, I had no intention of watching the new Ghostbusters because of this and because the previews were less than enticing. When a dustup hit Twitter causing the service to ban one blogger from its service, I had to investigate the reasons. It turns out that the blogger had given a less than flattering review of Ghostbusters and somehow Twitter connected this review to a deluge of hateful messages directed at one of the film’s actors, Leslie Jones.
Now, I do not know what was tweeted to that actress, but I can say that her performance was just one of many weak points in the film. The worst of those is the script. The plot is diffuse and doesn’t really follow a logical progression of plot development. The film runs more like a series of similarly themed skits one might see on Saturday Night Live loosely tied together with a derivative soundtrack. The dialogue reads like a 15-year old’s joke book, filled with nonsensical blatherings that seem funny in the moment, but don’t work when retold. This kind of joke is becoming all too common in modern comedy films that have to try to be funny when the kinds of sophisticated humor that has been around for decades is suddenly considered offensive to the politically-correct sensibilities of the pansy generation. Every scene that could be significant for either plot or character development is peppered with these distracting attempts at humor that fall flat and only serve to pull the viewer out of the moment and lose interest in the scene.
McCarthy and Wiig both have several films to their credit that have earned solid praise for their portrayals. Unfortunately, one only has to see these fine actresses on screen for five minutes to see that they didn’t consider this a serious role to begin with. They approached their respective roles like a couple of film students spending a weekend playing around with a video camera. Throw in Saturday Night Live alum Kate McKinnon and the party becomes even more evident. She played so over-the-top silly that it was virtually impossible to believe her to be the genius mechanical engineer that builds the nuclear powered proton packs and the Ghostbuster mobile. Jones rounds out the cast as a former MTA worker who forces her way into the “club” after seeing a ghost in the subway so she can kick some ectoplasmic butt. Her big comic moment, when a ghost is perched on her shoulders in a nightclub and one of the patrons takes a selfie with her, gets lost in a scene where she breaks character and turns chicken. While her performance was not a great one, it was not the worst one either. In fact that honor goes to token boy toy Chris Hemsworth, who—to complete the entire gender role reversal—plays the Ghostbusters’ receptionist. I never bought into his character and his performance was not funny at all. In fact, his character could have been left out entirely and no one would notice. One positive thing, though, is that every main character from the original had a cameo in the reboot, except for Rick Moranis and the late Harold Ramis.
Ghostbusters is a poorly made reboot that ranks even worse than the sequel to the original. The only redeeming point is that I caught the matinee and only had to waste four-and-a-half bucks to find out that which I already knew. Ghostbusters is bad.