Thursday, 14 July 2016

Ghostbusters (2016)

(PG) ★★★★

Director: Paul Feig.

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Neil Casey, Chris Hemsworth.

"Up there! A Twitter troll!"

FOR the sake of humanity, many pundits have been hoping this movie is awesome and goes big at the box office.

Positive reviews and a large gross would help quell the din surrounding its release, which comes partly from grown men (well, mostly men who are mostly grown) complaining about one of cinema’s sacred cows being slaughtered (ie. remade) as if the original will cease to exist, and partly from sexist morons who claim that women can’t be a) ghostbusters, b) funny, and/or c) anywhere outside of the kitchen.

As a result of all this manly online tantrum-throwing, the trailers for this reboot have been the most “disliked” in YouTube history and the build-up to the return of ghostbusting has been tainted by the type of underlying misogyny you expect from blokey footy commentators having a joke about drowning women. (Seriously, if you ever want to lose faith in humanity, read the comments. You've been warned.)

So praise be to Zuul that this re-imagining of the 1984 classic is really good. It’s funny, carries a similar yet updated tone to the original, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and even manages a few swipes at the haters. And, hallelujah blessed Gozer, the original 1984 classic hasn't been sucked into a vagina-shaped vortex, disappearing forever.

While it would have been nice to see what the world was like 30 years on from the original round of busting, this film takes a clean slate, positing its quartet of spectre-hunters as the first of their kind.

Bookish professor Erin Gilbert (Wiig), the enthusiastic driving force Abby Yates (McCarthy), the loose cannon/techno whiz Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon), and the underwritten fourth member Patty (Jones) find themselves at the centre of a burst of phantasmic activity and realise that people may need someone to call in such a situation.

The plot is a same-but-different approach to what we saw in ‘84 – it visits the same stops of team up, find ghosts, bust ghosts, battle Big Bad, and save day, but thankfully it finds its own path to get its final destination. It’s actually impressive how it manages to balance a fresh feel with a fidelity to its predecessor, throwing in plenty of references to the original and some cameos that range from gratuitous to clever.

But most importantly, this Ghostbusters is funny. Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon and Jones (all Saturday Night Live alum except for McCarthy) are on fire, especially McKinnon, who is a zany best-on-ground in a strong field. The tone and style of humour is similar to the original, just updated. It’s occasionally off-the-wall, hilariously straight in the face of absurdity, and energetic, with some obvious dashes of improvisation. Some of the improv gets in the way – there are edits that clash because the film stretches a little too far in one direction to fit a gag in – but the vast majority of the jokes find their target.

The same can’t be said for the presence of Chris Hemsworth, which misses as much as it hits. The idea of his presence is funnier than his actual presence, and he is increasingly at odds with everything around him as the movie goes on. He will have his defenders, but for mine he is the film’s weakest link.

The final act is a bit of struggle against sanity (how the hell do the Ghostbusters’ weapons work?) as the film devolves into a CGI-heavy onslaught of ghosts, but the laughs keep coming so it doesn’t matter. Even Hemsworth’s increased presence and the attempt to find a “don’t cross the streams” equivalent can’t detract from the joyous vibe. Where it lacks plot-wise, it at least throws in some laughs.

The big shame about this is a lot of people have written this movie off before seeing it and probably won’t bother opening their minds to the possibility that a female-driven Ghostbusters reboot could actually be really good. Here’s hoping some positive reviews sway some people to give it a try, although it’s unlikely the misogynistic undercurrent will be washed away by a fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating.

Still, director/co-writer Paul Feig and his comedic cast have created the best possible remake one could have hoped for, and one of the funniest films of the year so far. Take that, haters.

No comments:

Post a Comment