Ghostbusters is an interesting film that garnered plenty of head scratching after the credits rolled. I was lucky to see the advanced screening with a good crowd and hosts, which aided in the charm of the first act of the film. Its saving grace is the opening half hour, then it begins to fall flat and take a nosedive that would’ve made Michael Phelps jealous.
The film begins with a tour guide (Zach Woods of Silicon Valley fame) leading a group through the Ed Mulgrave estate. The jokes hit the ground running with Woods’ smooth delivery. I had hoped we would see more of his character. The audience loved it, I loved it and had thoughts of “Boy, is this film going to surprisingly carry itself for an hour and 55 minutes?”
We get a taste of how director Paul Feig tried to spook the crowd shortly after Woods gets his look at the very ghost he spoke of to the guests on his tour. There was a sense of horror in the beginning, but it fell apart. Except the mannequin scene. That was fun.
Everything felt … right. The film was throwing out properly-delivered jokes, Kristen Wiig was funny, Ed Begley Jr.’s first encounter with Wiig left a smile on my face and then —
The film nosedives into the shallow end of the pool.
Melissa McCarthy’s performance in Spy was awesome and her best role, but her charm wore off in Ghostbusters. Fart jokes? Really? Oh, and we can’t forget her partner-in-butt-jokes Kate McKinnon.
McKinnon plays the zany scientist Jillian Holtzmann who hunts for ghosts alongside her friend, Abby Yates (McCarthy). Wiig plays a teacher hunting for tenure, Erin Gilbert, when she’s made aware of a book she wrote years ago is still sold on Amazon.
With anger, Gilbert stomps into Yates’ laboratory demanding the book to be taken off the internet. Eventually, Yates agrees only if she joins them on their next ghost hunt.
Almost immediately after Wiig gets slimed is when the film begins to turn about-face. The jokes dried up, many of the one-liners made me glance to my friend and shrug my shoulders and, honestly, there was no substance. It felt as if the movie lost its breath.
Not even Saturday Night Live’s Leslie Jones, who plays a MTA worker turned Ghostbuster, could save the latter half. Jones had a pretty forgettable performance, but she shined in a few of her scenes (see: metal rock concert).
Chris Hemsworth provided a bit of chuckles during the low points of this film. He played Kevin, the dumber-than-a-pile-of-rocks receptionist. Hemsworth’s comedic timing wasn’t terrible, but his shtick of the stupid one in the group wore off after a while. Also, there was a dance during the end credits, where possessed Kevin led possessed military and police in a fun number. That should have been during the film. It would’ve provided an escape from the force-fed final stand-off with the ghosts.
Fan service was at an all-time high in this one. Cameos by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver and Ernie Hudson, among others (yeah, Ozzy Osbourne’s in this, too), were OK, but it felt too on the nose. Much of it took me away from the film, but not in a good sense.
I don’t think the film is downright disrespectful to the Ghostbusters franchise, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a drop off in quality from the original 1984 edition. The film had promise out of the gates, but it couldn’t keep its pace. Completely terrible? No. Worth a watch in the theater?