Ghostbusters (2016) Review

Ghostbusters_2016_film_posterTitle: Ghostbusters / Ghostbusters: Answer The Call
Production company: LStar Capital, Village Roadshow Pictures, The Montecito Picture Company & Pascal Pictures
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Directed by: Paul Feig
Produced by: Ivan Reitman & Amy Pascal 
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Andy García, Neil Casey & Chris Hemsworth
Based on: Ghostbusters by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis
Release dates: June 15, 2016 (US) / July 14, 2016 (Australia) 
Running time: 116 minutes
Rating: Pg-13 (US) / PG (Australia)

Well, here it is. The remake/reboot/remaster/whatever version of Ghostbusters. Here we have 4 women taking the roles of 4 great comedic actors that did it 30 years ago. To call this movie a political shit-storm is a complete fucking understatement. From people releasing videos about the Sony studios hack that leaked emails about the film, to the fact that people are calling this a Feminist film created to punch misogynists in the dick, to fans being treated like gold just so they could speak good things about the trailers and movie in general,  to just an unfunny version of a legendary classic. While there are a lot of people out there trying to hype this movie up due to some shady backstage dealings, other people are out there trying to tell the truth about how this film is just going to be a complete waste of time. Well after all the coverage and time I personally have spent trying to talk this film down and help spread the truth about how this film will be a complete wreck, I felt it was my duty to go and watch the film and give it the review it deserves… So let’s get to it.

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Full Story

**Because I’m going to save you money, here’s everything I recall from the movie beat for beat, including cameos and post credit scenes.**

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Things open up at the Aldridge Mansion, where a tour guide tell the story about the daughter of the home’s owner, who went mad and killed every one of the servants before being locked in the basement by her shamed father. After the Mansion closes for the night, the tour guide gets spooked by the appearance of Madam Aldridge and ends up in the basement with some slime. Fade to crappy Ghostbusters wide shot.

Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wigg) is a professor teaching Physics at some big University (It’s either not named or I’ve forgot it already) and she is up for tenure. The curator of the Aldridge Mansion tracks her down from a book she had previously co-authored with Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and asks if she can come to the Mansion to see the ghost within. Gilbert only cares about getting tenure, so she tries to hide the book’s appearance by going to see Yates, who is still working on theories used in the book with her new assistant Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). Yates agrees to maybe remove the book from sale on Amazon if Gilbert goes to the Mansion with them. Cue puking ghost scene from the trailers. Holtzmann records the whole thing, complete with Gilbert saying “ghosts are real!”, which in turn gets Gilbert fired from the University and ends up working with Yates and Holtzmann.

The trio go looking for a new building to work in, being shown the Firehouse from the original Ghostbusters. After hearing that the building is $21000 per month, they end up in the upper part of a Chinese restaurant where Yates gets her Chinese food orders from. (An ongoing joke is about how the place never gets her orders right. Wonton soup that is 99% soup with one split wonton, some seafood soup that only has one very iffy looking shrimp in it, etc).

At this point we are introduced to Patty (Leslie Jones) during her job at a booth in the New York subway system. A creepy guy we later get to know as Rowan (Neil Casey) comes up to the booth talking about the 4th Apocalypse or something of that nonsense before disappearing down on of the tunnels. Patty gives chase and has her first experience with a ghost.

Back at the Ghostbusters HQ, the trio dances before Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) makes his way into the room. After a few really stupid questions and seeing how dumb the guy is, they hire him as they have no one else wanting to work for them as a receptionist. It’s here that Gilbert shows her wanting desire for Kevin for the first time. After Kevin is hired, Patty talks with the trio about her experience. All four women then go back into the tunnel with a prototype Proton Gun and try to trap the ghost that Patty saw, they also collect pieces of a machine that Gilbert & Yates theorize was giving the ghosts form. Patty joins the group after this and a more mobile and powerful version of the Proton Pack/Gun is made.

At this point my recollection of things is fuzzy as I was tuning out. There was a Metal Concert where the girls are called in to check out the big green demon ghost that was seen in one of the other trailers. (This is where the terribly unfunny “I don’t know if it was a race thing or a woman thing” line is used.) After they get back to their HQ and are given the name Ghostbusters by the media, a noted ghost debunker (Bill Murray) comes into the HQ and coaxes Gilbert to open the ghost trap containing the demon ghost from the Metal concert, which in turn escapes and kills Murray’s character.

The group is suddenly summoned to the Mayor’s office where they are informed that the Government has been handling these types of things for years and that the girls are bringing unwanted attention to things that should remain secret. The Mayor’s liaison tells the girls that they will put out a media report calling them hoaxes and ruin their reputation.

The group, now discredited, figures out that all the sightings of ghosts (theirs and 3 more posted on an online “ghost news” site) line up along the most powerful magic lay lines in New York, converging on one Hotel; the same one that Rowan is working for and has built a large version of a machine that will shatter the dimensional boundaries and bring the dead into the living world once more. The group confronts Rowan who uses the machine to kill himself. (Annie Potts appears as the Hotel Clerk here) Yates finds a copy of their book near the machine and the girls are “pretend arrested” by the Government guys from the Mayor’s office.

Gilbert looks at the copy of the book that Rowan had, finding drawings and more information about his plan. This includes killing himself so he could leave the dead back through once the machine finished its job. Back at HQ, Yates is taken over by the ghost of Rowan… Power of Patty scene… Rowan’s ghost ends up in Kevin.

Rowan/Kevin makes his way back to the Hotel and finishes the machine, finally shattering the barrier and bringing all the ghosts into the world. The girls begin making their way towards the hotel, the Ecto 1 getting stolen by Slimer on the way. Gilbert tries to get the Mayor to evacuate the city, calling him “worse than the Mayor from JAWS” (You’d think this was a reference, but it’s surprisingly not). Insert Dan Aykroyd cameo. Yates, Patty & Holtzmann all get into a bit of trouble when possessed parade floats attack, with a float of the Stay Puff Marshmallow man pinning them down. Gilbert frees them by shoving the blade of a Swiss Army Knife up it’s butt.

Once all the girls get close to the Hotel, Rowan/Kevin then sends a lot of historical ghosts after them. This is the big fight scene with a lot of new gadgets that kill ghosts. Holtzmann gets an extrended badass fighting sequence with twin blasters before taking down the main ghost. The girls make their way through a frozen group of Police, Army & Government officials (Used in a dance sequence that is shown during the credits) to confront Rowan/Kevin.

Rowan eventually lets go of Kevin and asks the girls to choose the form that he takes next. Patty wanted something small and cute, which leads Rowan into transforming into a cute version of the Ghostbusters logo, and then he grows huge and deforms it and goes on a rampage. The girls find the vortex that is letting the ghosts out and Patty has the idea of using the nuclear reactors on the Ecto 1 to reverse the whole thing… As Slimer, with female Slimer and a few other ghosts, drives towards them. The girls hit the reactors on the Ecto 1 as it goes into the vortex, creating the reversal.

Rowan, being too powerful for the vortex to pull him in, gets hit in the nuts with proton blasts and trips over a car, sending him into the vortex. Not before he grabs Yates on the way in. Gilbert wraps a steel rope from a nearby Fire truck around her waist and dive in to save Yates and does. Somehow the Mayor tries to cover things up, the girls save New York, and they get the Firehouse from the original Ghostbusters.

Cue Credits.

During the credits, we meet Patty’s Uncle (Ernie Hudson), Holtzmann’s mentor (Sigourney Weaver), the dance sequence, and a few other bits and pieces through recaps of the movie. After the credits end, we see the girls working on things with Patty listening to a tape. Patty rewinds the tape a few times as the girls begin to show interest… “What’s Zuul?”

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Characters

  • Melissa McCarthy as Abby Yates: Of course McCarthy is the central character in all this once she takes over from Wiig about 20 or so minutes into the film. She’s excitable, she falls over, she can’t hold the proton wand during the testing phase, etc. It’s McCarthy being McCarthy. No personality beyond “hey I’m large, uncoordinated and I tell dumb dirty jokes”. Everything I said I hated about McCarthy and what she would do to the film came to pass… And I’m fucking sad for it.
  • Kristen Wiig as Erin Gilbert: I think that Gilbert was meant to be the “straight woman” of all the jokes. She took everything seriously, she didn’t crack many jokes, she treated Kevin like a piece of meat, and she though the slime in the movie was out to get her. She has no actual personality to speak of, and frankly was a waste of recording time.
  • Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann: Only funny one in this movie. It almost looked like McKinnon was having fun with the character, always doing silly actions or making bad jokes. She didn’t show much smarts beyond “Here’s my latest creations”, but she was actually amusing. I think she was the only one who realized that she could make the character her own and have fun with it. She was the engineer who made all the Ghostbusters gear by the way.
  • Leslie Jones as Patty Tolan: Think every “Large Black Female” Stereotype you’ve seen in things like Scary Movie and you have Patty. For someone who is meant to be “smart about the history and layout of New York”, she gets to show it once in the whole movie, and it’s not even about New York! She gets the idea of blowing up the Nuclear Reactors on the Ecto1. I hate, hate, hate, HATE this character.
  • Chris Hemsworth as Kevin Beckman: Dumb as a brick is the best way to describe the Kevin character. The guy took the lenses out of his glasses so he didn’t need to clean them. He covers his eyes thinking that is how he hears. He’s nothing more than a sexual object to Gilbert. Every time he was in a scene I cringed because I couldn’t stand how bad he was written. Only when he got taken over by Rowan’s ghost does he actually become funny for a few scenes, then he goes back to being dumb as a brick by films end. Horrible.
  • Andy García as the Mayor of New York City: The Mayor of New York is nothing more than another dumb male. He just says nothing interesting, leaving his female secretary/liaison to do all the actual work interacting with the Ghostbusters. Andy is the enthuses of how all males are shown in this film: As assholes who are practically useless.
  • Neil Casey as Rowan: Rowan is the janitor of the Hotel that is featured in the final act. He is portrayed up and down as the weird, basement dwelling loser type. He was bullied by all the people around him since childhood and now he is going to bring the Apocalypse down upon the society that shuns him. As a human being he was shown to be weird, and then he dies and becomes a ghost. So instead of making him into some sort of viable threat, he becomes a jokester that possessed Kevin and spends his time making work out jokes due to Hemsworth’s physical nature. Then once he becomes a deformed version of the Ghostbusters logo, where he is an actual threat, he gets ignored and shot in the balls. I would like to say he did a good job, but a bad script hurt what could have been a solid villain performance to shit.

Cameos

  • Bill Murray: Plays Dr. Martin Heiss, a Ghost debunker. For someone who reportedly didn’t want anything to do with another Ghostbusters, especially this version, he got a decent bit of screen time. Hell, he got more screen time than everyone else on this list combined. Luckily for Murray; his character, which is played way too straight and annoying, dies after coaxing Gilbert to open the ghost trap from the Metal concert in the Ghostbusters HQ.
  • Dan Aykroyd: As a cab driver during the third act that refuses to give Gilbert a ride to Chinatown. He uses the Ghostbusters catch phrase “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts” before driving off. I guess he was just that desperate to be in something with the Ghostbusters name on it again… Shame Dan, Shame!
  • Sigourney Weaver: Appears as Holtzmann’s mentor in a post credit scene involving the ghost containment unit. She appears very stern and ridged. Frankly, I think this was a 100% “for the paycheck” appearance. I hope she got top dollar.
  • Ernie Hudson: Appears as Patty’s uncle in a post credits scene where he complains about the loss of the first Hurst that he lent Patty.
  • Annie Potts: Annie appears as the Hotel Clerk of the Hotel that is used in the third act (I forget the name of the place). She even has the red hair from the second movie (and Cartoon series), complete with the line “Whatda ya want?”. What hurt me most about this cameo was that even with the camera lingering on her, she got no reaction from the people in the audience.
  • Ozzy Osbourne: One line “Sharron, I think I’m having a freakout again”. Yep, that’s the cameo from Ozzy fucking Osbourne. I know the man can’t do much, but it was during the Metal Concert scene. Give me a fucking Ozzy or Sabbath song or something!

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What Worked?

Kate McKinnon as Holtzmann. Seriously, that’s what worked. As I said above, she’s the only one who turned up thinking this way a comedy movie and that she could have fun with the character and make it her own. Outside of her character being the only genuine funny thing… I guess it was nice seeing the old Firehouse again and seeing the old crew if only for a moment. The effects on the ghosts, while being CGI garbage, did give some of the ghosts weight and presence.

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What didn’t Work?

Everything. From beginning to end this didn’t feel like something that was worthy of the Ghostbusters name and branding. This felt like a spoof of the original movie. It followed the same beats as the original with nothing added beyond showing the testing phases of some of the ghost busting gear. The effects looked way too CGI based.

There were too many low brow jokes in the movie, I’m talking “queefing” jokes here people! The film also took too much time to linger on some of the more self-referential sequences or jokes. Also the film would bring everything to an awkward halt to do some jokes about the “online haters” that ripped the first trailer to shreds. They do this not once, but twice in the movie!

Then there was the man hate… Oh god was there man hate. Every male in this whole movie came in one of two flavours: Dumbass or Asshole. It was terrible to the point of insulting how they made men come off in this movie. You can tell that Paul Feig was working through a lot of deep personal self-resentment for being born with a penis during the writing process. Now I know a lot of women will call it “something you men deserve”, but for fucks sake, it’s much much worse than anything a woman in film has had to put up with ever.

This is how the final villain is defeated... A proton shot to the dick

This is how the final villain is defeated… A proton shot to the dick

Final Thoughts

About 15 minutes into this film, when a shot lingers on a bust of Harold Remis, I felt like walking out of the movie. By that point there were so many low brow fart style jokes and self-referential humour going on that I really didn’t want to sit through the rest of the movie. As things progressed, the jokes got dumber, the cameos were cringe-worthy, and every time I heard someone laugh at anything it felt like a dagger going through my heart.

This felt nothing like a Ghostbusters film, it felt like a spoof of a Ghostbusters film. You know those “The Asylum” movies that parody something that’s upcoming in the cinemas at a lower budget? That is what this movie felt like. And if it was a spoof movie, like things along the lines of ‘Spy’ and ‘Bridesmaids’ as McCarthy and Feig have done in the past; I could see it being somewhat clever in that self-deprecating type of way. However, this was something that we are meant to take as a serious comedy movie, and it fails at that.

Aside from McKinnon’s ‘Holtzmann’ character being so over the top silly and somewhat amusing at times, none of the other characters felt like real people. The villian of the movie actually felt something of a threat, but he was ignored so we could wrap things up and get one last cheap shot at males before the credits rolled. A lot of other reviews say that Hemsworth is the only funny thing about this film, but I couldn’t find him funny at all. If anything, it was insulting to see him used in such a way.

I don’t know if it was the expectations or negative mindset I had going into the film or if it was truly a bad film. I asked a couple of people behind me after the movie ended what they thought. One, a male, said that it lacked the horror of the original film and the humour was very mid-tier. The other, his girlfriend, said that the jokes were pretty creative and she liked the overall story. A third, a male, said that it tried too hard to be the original and didn’t do anything new or ground-breaking like the media had made him believe. So even people from all different experience levels can’t make up their mind if this is a good or bad film on its own merits. However if one thing was painstakingly clear, it can’t hold a candle to the original.

Summary

This movie is really going to be one of those “your mileage will vary” types. It all depends on how much you know about the original film and all the off shoots, and also if you like your humor dumb and self referential. High caliber comedy this ain’t. All the characters are barely able to be called human, the editing is all over the place, they slam the movie to a halt too often for a reference or to slam the “haters”, McKinnon is the only highlight, and worst of all the cameos are so forced it’ll hurt to see your favorites wasted. See it, don’t see it. Personally I’d recommending waiting till it comes on Netflix. Not worth your cinema ticket money.

  • A confusing ectoplasmic covered mess
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About The Author

Karl Smart
Senior Editor / Reviewer

The main "Australian arm" of The Outerhaven. Karl primarily spends time playing and reviewing video games while taking time to occasionally review the latest movie or piece of gaming technology.