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Wednesday, July 20, 2016




Paul Feig's Ghostbusters is something strange in the neighborhood. Casting four of today's funniest comediennes, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones, as the new all-female Ghostbusters, Feig and his co-writer Katie Dippold, hang them out to dry by crafting a goofball comedy as unwieldy and erratic as the proton streams that generate from their proton packs. The story, of course, is mainly identical to the 1984 original: strange supernatural occurrences infect Manhattan. Odd ball scientists and childhood friends-turned-rivals Wiig and McCarthy investigate, with McKinnon, a physicist and handy inventor, in tow. Soon, after copious amounts of sliming, they discover ghosts are real. Shunned by academia, they are joined by Jones, an MTA employee chased by a ghost in the sewer, and the four women go into business for themselves as the Ghostbusters.

Despite a spiritedly funny opening scene where Zach Woods gives a tour of a haunted Manhattan mansion, Ghostbusters quickly goes as limp as the lone wonton in the Chinese soup McCarthy complains about in her main running gag. The Ghostbusters gradually stumble upon a meandering plot by an utterly forgettable and uninteresting villain to open up the ley lines beneath Manhattan and bring forth supernatural evil, or something. Though the entire city of New York is threatened, Ghostbusters lacks any urgency or palpable stakes. Scenes and entire sequences feel hacked and slashed, the movie assembled in editing like a jigsaw puzzle smashed together by a child having a temper tantrum. Wiig and McCarthy are basically interchangeable characters whose initial disconnect after a falling out is quickly forgotten. Jones rises to the occasion, bringing some sense of fear and disbelief when confronted with terrifying apparitions. Meanwhile, there's McKinnon, delivering an oddball performance completely disconnected from every scene in the movie she occupies. 

Feig pays laborious homage to the original Ghostbusters, with dutiful but infernal cameos by every surviving cast member from 1984 save Rick Moranis. Ghastly appearances by an unsightly CGI Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man garner the effect of checking them off a list. The inimitable talents of Michael Kenneth Williams of The Wire and Charles Dance of Game of Thrones are utterly wasted in little more than walk ons. Until he starts dancing for no reason into and throughout the end credits, Chris Hemsworth scores the biggest laughs, outshining all of the Saturday Night Live professional comediennes, as the Ghostbusters' dim bulb secretary. For all the abuse they unfairly attracted and continue to from the dregs of society (some of it cannily referenced in the movie), the all-female Ghostbusters deserved a better written, better directed, better edited, better structured, better movie in which to bust ghosts.