Monday, July 25, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016)

Film: Ghostbusters (2016)
Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth
Director: Paul Feig
Oscar History: No nominations
Snap Judgment Ranking: 3/5 stars

The day before I went out to see Ghostbusters, I was talking to my friend Jesse and asked him what he was seeing this weekend, and he replied Ghostbusters, and I replied, "yes, I agree-I feel like it's my feminist duty to see it opening weekend" and he concurred.  Thus is the strangeness of this past year that a film that I would have seen anyway (I'll see literally any Feig/McCarthy collaboration going forward after two home runs and a ground-rule double) I felt duty-bound to attend.  Honestly, the ridiculous, sexist hype over Ghostbusters was so grand and over-the-top I genuinely wanted to shove it into the faces of all of the people (wait, let's just say it, men...and probably Scottie Nell Hughes) who had decided that recasting a movie with all women despite the fact that the original didn't need to be all men wasn't the worst idea, and that Ghostbusters isn't really a "classic" that can't be improved upon or re-imagined.  Thankfully, the film is a riot.  Like the original, it's not a fantastic, shoot-for-the-stars sort of film, but it's funny and has some game performers in it that land most of the jokes and make for an extremely watchable picture.

(Spoilers Ahead) The movie follows Erin Gilbert (Wiig), a physics professor at Columbia University who has spent years trying to downplay her past career as a researcher of the paranormal while her childhood best friend Abby Yates (McCarthy) continues to celebrate their work together.  Through a series of comic turns-of-event, they are both fired and are eventually joined by Yates' assistant Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon) when they discover a spirit that lives in a haunted house in Manhattan.  Eventually joined by a metro transit worker named Patty Tolan (Jones) and a ridiculously handsome assistant Kevin Beckman (Hemsworth), they form the Ghostbusters, a group that is consistently able but is constantly being overrun by political power-brokers who know that they're doing good but are covering up the paranormal to stop a mass panic from the public.  The film eventually has them battling a man who commits suicide so that he can come back as a spirit in an apocalypse of sorts that involves him possessing Chris Hemsworth (I feel like if I woke up in Chris Hemsworth body the first thing I'd do is update my Tinder profile, but that's just me), and Slimer returning to the world before we finally see a happy ending for all involved.

The film works well when it focuses on the sharp comedic skills of all of the women involved (and a surprisingly funny Hemsworth, who up until now has largely stuck to the dramatic as Thor and the Huntsman).  Wiig and McCarthy both stick largely to the role of straight women, but still have enough sharpness to land a number of sarcastic one-liners, but the physical comedy heavy-lifting falls principally on Jones and McKinnon, both more than capable after several years on SNL and in particular McKinnon stands out as a resident weirdo, someone that (were she a man) would already be pulling in 8-figures and headlining films with that kind of a skill.  Holtzmann is surely the standout character, frequently finding contortions with her face and giving us just enough both consistency and randomness to be real (at least within the Ghostbusters universe) as well as unpredictable.  I loved every second she was onscreen.

Honestly, there really wasn't anything not to enjoy here-the haters got this one wrong.  The movie itself has a very predictable plot, and perhaps a couple of the heavier scenes don't feel as earned (Erin and Abby don't really fight enough to warrant a gigantic life-saving scene where they feel like they're apologizing for their riff), but overall it's a good summer blockbuster.  Nothing too heavy, nothing that you'll feel gluttonous for having enjoyed, but just nice, clean popcorn.  It never hits the brilliant, observational heights of Bridesmaids nor the near-perfect comedic timing and laughs-per-minute of Spy (still my favorite comedy of the decade), but this fourth installment of the Feig/McCarthy series has me only asking one question: when is Round 5?

Those are my thoughts on Ghostbusters, which you've hopefully seen by now (if not, what are you waiting for?)-what are yours?  Were you a fan of the remake, and did you enjoy the cameos?  Are you hoping for a sequel (the box office has been sketchy, so that might be harder to pull of than I'd initially hoped), or is this enough?  And when is Hollywood going to give Kate McKinnon her own headlining role?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

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