Monday, September 05, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016)

I'm not sure anyone thought it was a good idea to remake Ghostbusters, but now that it's done I finally thought I'd give it a look. Recall that the original 1984 Ghostbusters was not actually that good. A lot of the principals—Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Ivan Reitman—were riding some serious mojo and high expectations from recent hits (The Blues Brothers, Caddyshack, Stripes, Trading Places, etc.). And a lot of money went into it. And it was filmed in New York City on location. Cha-ching! It was all so amiable nobody seemed to care that it wasn't that funny, except in a few places, most of them covered in the trailers. Yet it somehow blew up so big that along about the time of its release in June 1984 it seemed everywhere you looked it was either "When Doves Cry" or Ghostbusters ("who you gonna call"). As a reboot / remake / whatever, doing the 21st-century thing of switching up the gender roles, it's basically fine. In fact, it's likely the new one is more funny, for a few reasons. Kristen Wiig remains a good bet for comedy these days, much like Bill Murray all those years ago. She's got a natural style. Melissa McCarthy and Leslie Jones are also solid, with their own bits. But the show mostly belongs to Kate McKinnon, whose performance looks like a matter of stitching together inspired improv notes that go zinging and zanging off the hard surfaces of the rest of the movie. Sometimes it's purely the surprise that gets the laugh, which is a good trick. Otherwise, it looks a lot like the same game plan: lots of money for special effects and filmed on location in New York City. There's a kind of "himbo" who is hired to the paranormal project as a receptionist. That's Chris Hemsworth, the God of Thunder, and he never really manages to figure out the phones. As with the original, the new one abandons much of the comedy in the second half, going to lots of very big action scenes in the streets, with things blowing up, etc. There's a pretty good scene at a metal show. There are also some fun cameos, some of which go by fast: Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Al Roker, Sigourney Weaver, and more. For what it's worth, I noticed as I was leaving that most of the smallish crowd that day for a movie released more than a month earlier were women. But then, they are usually the majority at most of these Tuesday morning matinees, so don't make too much of it.

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