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Who you gonna call? - 'Ghostbusters'

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Talented cast brings reboot of beloved comedy classic to life

Few movies have suffered the sort of instant backlash/resentment that was inspired by the remake/reboot of 'Ghostbusters.' Armed with little more than an overly reverent nostalgia and an (admittedly not-great) first trailer not to mention plenty of good old fashioned misogyny hordes of nitwits and trolls took to the internet to bemoan the lack of quality in a film that none of them had even seen yet.

But here's the thing it's actually pretty good. No one's childhood was ruined. A first-rate comedic team Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and writer/director Paul Feig has come together here. And while 'Ghostbusters' isn't as successful as it might have been, it's certainly a much better movie than the original film's self-proclaimed defenders would have you believe.

Dr. Erin Gilbert (Wiig) is a gifted physicist on the verge of getting tenure at Columbia. However, her colleagues start to question her worthiness when a book about the paranormal that she co-wrote years ago pops up on the internet.

When Gilbert goes looking for her co-writer old friend and colleague Dr. Abby Yates (McCarthy) she discovers Yates and her weirdo engineer partner Jillian Holtzman (McKinnon) still working toward the validation of those long-ago theories with regards to paranormal phenomena. The three of them set up shop above a Chinese restaurant; before long, their quartet is completed by the arrival of Patty Tolan (Jones), a transit worker whose encyclopedic knowledge of New York's past and present make her a key addition.

(They also add a receptionist named Kevin (Chris Hemsworth, 'The Huntsman: Winter's War') whose well-meaning ineptitude is tolerated due to his congenial nature and chiseled handsomeness.)

It turns out that New York City is experiencing a significant spike in eldritch activity thanks to the efforts of an anonymous genius (Neil Casey, TV's 'Other Space') who is striving to power up long-dormant ley lines to break down the walls between the dimensions and unleash a ghost-fueled hell on earth. And while the mayor (Andy Garcia, 'Kill the Messenger') acknowledges the reality of the threat, he chooses instead to denounce the Ghostbusters as frauds in an effort to avoid a panic.

That goes about as well as these things do in movies like this one.

The four Ghostbusters are left to confront the sinister forces that are being unleashed upon the city with nothing but their intelligence, ingenuity and courage (along with all manner of crazy science lasers and nuclear doodads); they are that stands between humanity and the world-ending ghost-pocalypse.

This new film isn't the original 'Ghostbusters' and that's OK. It's not trying to be. Yes, there are some winks and nods to the first film, but this is a movie that is very much its own thing. Sure, it has the same title and the same underlying structure four people battling ghosts in NYC but it is a very different animal. It's a more action-driven vehicle than the original. The jokes are there and they're funny but it's hard to argue against the original being a funnier film. The comparisons are inevitable, of course, but just because this new film doesn't ascend to the same heights doesn't mean it's a bad movie.

The cast is clearly having a blast. McCarthy gets to dial back on the raunchier, more physical side of her comedic persona and get a bit more cerebral with it. It's a nice change of pace for her; her sharp-as-ever wit shines just a bit brighter. Wiig is a bit on the reserved side; she's clearly playing it straight on purpose, but some more overt glimpses of her neurotic energy would have been welcome. Still, she does good work. Jones is a delight as the brash, brassy Patty; in many ways, she's the emotional soul of the film. And McKinnon is just phenomenal she's utterly and unrepentantly committed to being a weirdo. She doesn't get the chance to let her freak flag fully fly all that often, so it's good to see her run with it.

As for the supporting cast Casey is kind of meh as the villain. He's fine and suitably creepy, but the stakes never feel particularly high with him. Garcia's nicely blustery as the mayor, while notable talents like Cecily Strong, Charles Dance, Matt Walsh and more are scattered throughout. The best of the bunch is definitely Hemsworth, though he's absolutely phenomenal as Kevin the idiot pretty boy; it's a surprisingly delightful performance.

Feig has long established his comedic bona fides and does a fair job mining this movie for laughs. Those laughs come mostly in the early (and superior) part of the film before the third act devolves into a run-of-the-mill boss fight action scenario. Don't get me wrong the action's pretty good aside from a few odd effects choices but it simply doesn't resonate the same way as the interpersonal humor dynamic of the movie's first half.

'Ghostbusters' isn't as good a movie as the original, but there's no shame in failing to reach the level of a classic. It's still a fun and funny film with plenty going for it particularly a wildly talented cast that is pretty obviously having a ball. While there are people out there strongly committed to hating this movie, the more reasonable among you can rest assured it might not achieve greatness, but it is more than good enough.

[4 out of 5]

Last modified on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 19:42


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