Sunday, July 17, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016)

1.5/4

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth

Rated PG-13 for Supernatural Action and Some Crude Humor

I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of these new "comedies" that seem almost entirely composed of endless riffs on jokes rather than a screenplay.  I watched the original 1984 classic a week ago and was surprised at how effective it is.  It's still hilarious and creepy.  But that's because its stars were working with a real script, and while there was certainly improvising, they kept their riffs to a line or two.  Here, it's like watching a group of stand-up comics shooting their mouths off without knowing when someone said the punchline.

This "Ghostbusters" is a reboot rather than a sequel or a remake.  It ignores the other films except for the obligatory callbacks and cameos (and there are plenty of both).  The story outline is pretty much the same, only there's less of a plot and structure.

After Erin Gilbert (Wiig) is denied tenure when Columbia University found out that she had written a book that had argued for the existence of ghosts, she hooks up with an old friend (that she wrote the book with and published it without her permission), Abby Yates (McCarthy) and her weird co-worker Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon), to catch ghosts.  With the help of a subway ticket taker named Patty Tolan (Jones), the quartet sets out to stop a social misfit named Rowan North (Neil Casey) from unleashing the apocalypse.

The four leads, including Wiig and McCarthy, are all bland.  No one is on their game and as such the film is rarely funny.  There are a few good one-liners here and there and Chris Hemsworth, who plays the hunky but incompetent secretary, is consistently amusing (and clearly having a blast).  That's it, really.  All that's left for someone trapped in this movie is to admire the special effects and spot the cameos by the original cast members (save for Harold Ramis, who passed away a few years ago, and Rick Moranis, who retired).

It's a pity that so much time and effort were put into special effects that are in the service of four actresses with no direction and are mugging the camera.  This is a visually dazzling film, and for once, the 3D is worth the extra charge.  The lighting is corrected, the image pops and takes advantage of widescreen.  Unfortunately, cool special effects can't make up for a movie that's this tedious.

Trust me.  Save your money and watch the original.

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