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Review: New ‘Ghostbusters’ makes us feel good (Includes first-hand account)

The leading issue with pre-determined notions regarding a yet-to-be-released movie is that they’re generally unfounded, even if not always disproven. Most people are aware that promotional campaigns, particularly trailers, can do a great disservice to otherwise likeable and/or respectable films. And while a distaste for remakes that don’t add anything meaningful to the conversation is warranted, there are exceptions to the anti-remake position. One of the most notable is when a studio and/or filmmaker is eager to deliver a new perspective on a classic narrative, rather than simply rehashing what was done before. Paul Feig‘s Ghostbusters is that exceptional movie.

When Erin Gilbert’s (Kristen Wiig) long pursued university tenure is jeopardized by the resurfacing of a paranormal text she co-wrote, she’s forced to track down her former partner and childhood best friend, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), who is still working to prove the existence ghosts. As fate would have it, their reunion coincides with a rise in spectral sightings in the city. When they, along with Abby’s current research partner, Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), encounter a real-life ghost, both their dreams and nightmares become reality. However as they uncover evidence that the apparitions are being artificially summoned, their attention must return to the living. With the help of amateur historian, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), and inept but handsome assistant, Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), they must try to save New York from being overrun by spirits.

This is a great script, regardless of who was casted to deliver the lines. It’s funny, respectful and even a tad scary at times. Filmmakers casted a group of very capable women to bring these characters to life, as well as received the cameo-based blessing of most of the original, surviving cast – Dan Akroyd, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson and Bill Murray – who make amusing appearances as a variety of secondary characters.

Holtzmann’s personality is unquestionably the most bizarre as it seems to naturally consist of equal parts bold, stoner, brilliant science nerd, goth and crazy, and McKinnon is perfect in the role. Conversely, Kevin is as dumb as a rock. There’s a running gag around his ability to answer the phone, which is the primary task for which he was hired. Hemsworth is hilarious and plays every joke to its maximum potential. Abby and Erin each have their personal quirks as the former is an unwavering believer and the latter is slightly neurotic; and McCarthy and Wiig play them so well it’s apparent the roles were written with them in mind.

The structure of the narrative is somewhat familiar as the team goes from laughing stock, to the mayor’s lackeys, to necessities for survival as the city is plunged into supernatural chaos. They are equipped with a variety of fascinating equipment courtesy of Holtzmann and Abby’s lab, including ghost bombs, shotgun blasters, and the classic proton packs and trap. Amusingly, some of their more recognizable accessories are borrowed or stolen, including the Ecto-1 and their uniforms. Filmmakers also go to great lengths to pay homage to the film’s predecessors: the original theme song randomly plays throughout the narrative in a manner that generally results in a knowing smile; in addition to the aforementioned human cameos, they also revisit some of the previous apparitions; and many of the earlier, now-iconic locations are seen throughout the picture. Even the city of New York is paying tribute to the new film with its own display of support.

The otherwise solid comedy doesn’t really run into a problem until the final act when it tries to transition into more of an action movie. Unfortunately, the unique spectral gunfight and ultimate standoff actually slows the film’s previously steady pace of laughter and enjoyment. However, the guaranteed joke in this section is unexpectedly delayed, but still entertaining once it’s finally delivered over the end credits. Though the post-credit scene is probably the most surprising of the entire film.

Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones

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Sarah Gopaul is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for film news, a member of the Online Film Critics Society and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved critic.

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