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Will bustin’ make you feel good all over again?
Or are you so worried that the lady-fied “Ghostbusters” reboot will ruin your precious childhood memories by infecting them with cooties to even consider buying a ticket?
How yet another example of Hollywood feeding on its past rather than enriching its present with original concepts became as contentiously political as this year’s presidential race is beyond me, even if there are countless male-written thinkpieces out there that attempt to explain it.
To those who are disturbed by this remake, let it be known that no one is burning all the DVD copies of the 1984 model. If you wish, you can easily re-watch Sigourney Weaver ’s possessed Dana writhing around in bed while suggestively telling Bill Murray ’s Venkman, “I want you inside of me” while Murray quips back, “It sounds like you've got at least two or three people in there already.”
But here is the rub. All this misplaced misogynistic hostility that has been sliming the reputation of director’s Paul Feig ’s gender-reassignment redo (co-written with Katie Dippold , his partner on “ The Heat ”) has stirred the girl-power advocate inside of me. But, the reality is, there is perhaps one, maybe two moments that come anywhere close to being as memorable as that 32-year-old not-quite-family-friendly joke above. And that reality leaves me in the unhappy position of having to admit that this feminized attempt could have used a makeover itself.
What complicates matters even more is that I actually found myself chuckling within the first few minutes of the film. The source of my mirth, unfortunately, was not any of the four female stars. Instead, it was Zach Woods of TV’s “Silicon Valley”—he of the perpetually startled eyes—as a tour guide at a historic New York City mansion where the first threatening specter materializes. When he claims that the 19th-century structure’s forward-thinking owner installed such innovative features as a “face bidet” and “an anti-Irish security fence,” I laughed heartily.
Alas, such genuinely humorous opportunities arrive only sporadically throughout the rest of this experiment that attempts to combine ectoplasm and estrogen into an enjoyable summer comedy elixir. Actually, the problem isn’t so much that women are strapping on those upgraded ghost-zapping proton packs this time around. After all, when you put such formidable talents as Kristen Wiig , Melissa McCarthy , Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones together in a room, something amusing is bound to happen. But if what occurs is a running gag on how McCarthy always gets shorted on wontons in her Chinese takeout, new heights of hilarity are going to be hard to come by.
Instead, the same weakness that has plagued a goodly portion of major releases this year that rely on past successes for their reason to exist rears up again: the lack of the new and fresh. And what is different isn’t different enough or somehow seems a diminishment. Wiig’s Erin, a Columbia University physics professor, is pulled back into her suppressed paranormal research past when she reunites with McCarthy’s Abby, an estranged childhood chum and fellow ghost chaser, after long-dead apparitions begin to wreak havoc on Manhattan. Joining them are McCarthy’s human Looney Tune gadget-whiz partner Holtzmann (McKinnon, who is a gas, gas, gas and then some) and history-buff subway worker Patty (Jones, who does a fine job of keeping the bustin’ real and physical).
Meanwhile, instead of restless Babylonian gods, there is a human nut-job villain ( Neil Casey )—who seems to have studied bad-guy Syndrome from Pixar’s “ The Incredibles ”—summoning these filmy monsters in order to bring about an apocalypse with all the CGI overkill that 21 st -century technology can deliver. But as anyone who subjected themselves to “ Independence Day: Resurgence ” knows, mass destruction of major cities isn’t as much fun as it used to be.
What really galled me was the attitude that these supposedly brilliant and successful women are forced to assume. While nerdy wise guys Murray, Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd never questioned their belief in afterlife inhabitants or wavered in their confidence to control them despite a raft of skeptics, she-geeks Wiig and McCarthy are cowed into playing misfits who were shunned by others because of their spooky interests when they were young girls, and are now emotionally damaged goods trying to prove themselves right. All I know is I don’t want my funny gals muted. I want them full blast.
Enough with the so-so. Let’s celebrate McKinnon’s ability to sneak into the corners of scenes and force us to watch her. All it takes for her to rivet us is a flirtatious wink of her eye, the slow curl of her lascivious lips or the enthusiastic munching of a container of Pringles—or “salty parabolas,” as she calls the chips—that seems to materialize out of nowhere. Imagine Harpo Marx combined with a yellow-lens-goggles-wearing Minion who somehow confuses the ‘80s R&B group DeBarge with far-out Devo and see if you aren’t already giggling to yourself.
And cheers as well for good-sport Chris Hemsworth , who helps the lasses engage in a bit of deserved reverse sexism as Kevin, a bespectacled blond himbo hired as an office receptionist who can barely answer a phone but can inspire this reaction: “Who ordered the Clark Kent stripper-gram?”
I suppose it was inevitable that in the age of YouTube the filmmakers would seize the opportunity to have a commenter mock an online video of a ghost capture with the observation, “Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts” while the women react with appropriate scorn. But I would have preferred that they simply had shut their naysayers down by producing a better movie.
Susan Wloszczyna spent much of her nearly thirty years at USA TODAY as a senior entertainment reporter. Now unchained from the grind of daily journalism, she is ready to view the world of movies with fresh eyes.
Leave the World Behind
Rated PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor.
Melissa McCarthy as Abby Yates
Kristen Wiig as Erin Gilbert
Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann
Leslie Jones as Patty Tolan
Chris Hemsworth as Kevin
Neil Casey as Rowan North
Zach Woods as Tour Guide
Writer (based on the 1984 film "Ghostbusters" written by)
- Harold Ramis
- Dan Aykroyd
- Ivan Reitman
- Katie Dippold
- Robert D. Yeoman
- Melissa Bretherton
- Brent White
- Theodore Shapiro
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- Cast & crew
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Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the other... Read all Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat. Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.
- Katie Dippold
- Ivan Reitman
- Melissa McCarthy
- Kristen Wiig
- Kate McKinnon
- 2.5K User reviews
- 655 Critic reviews
- 60 Metascore
- 5 wins & 24 nominations
- Erin Gilbert
- Jillian Holtzmann
- Patty Tolan
- Tour Guide Garrett
- Ed Mulgrave
- Harold Filmore
- Higgins Student
- Gertrude Aldridge Ghost
- Rowan North
- Electrocuted Ghost
- (as Dave Gruber Allen)
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- Graffiti Artist
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Did you know
- Trivia Although Harold Ramis passed away in 2014 and thus could not make a cameo alongside his fellow castmates, there is a bust of Ramis' head just outside of Erin's university office near the beginning of the film. The bust was later donated to the Harold Ramis Film School at Chicago's Second City, where Ramis began his career.
- Goofs When you see the second shot of the outside of the Chinese restaurant/Ghostbusters base of operation (right after the subway train encounter), you can see the Ecto in the garage...this is before they even got the car from Patty. However, this mistake was digitally removed for the Blu-ray release.
Patty Tolan : [about Rowan's huge transformation] What part of "small and friendly" did he not understand?
- Crazy credits In the post-credit scene after the credits are over, you see the girls in their lab. Patty has on a headset and is listening to an audio tape, repeating one section several times. Erin asks if she has something. Patty answers, "What's Zuul?"
- Alternate versions Extended BluRay version is 2hs 13 mins long.
- Connections Featured in The Ellen DeGeneres Show: Zooey Deschanel/Kelly Clarkson/Paul Feig/Bonnie Raitt/Stephen 'tWitch' Boss (2016)
- Soundtracks Ghostbusters Written and Performed by Ray Parker Jr. (as Ray Parker, Jr.) Courtesy of Raydio Music Corp.
User reviews 2.5K
- Dec 14, 2019
Reboots & Remakes
- July 15, 2016 (United States)
- United States
- Official Site
- Ghostbusters: Answer the Call
- Boston, Massachusetts, USA
- Columbia Pictures
- LStar Capital
- Village Roadshow Pictures
- See more company credits at IMDbPro
- $144,000,000 (estimated)
- Jul 17, 2016
- Runtime 1 hour 57 minutes
- Dolby Digital
- Dolby Atmos
- IMAX 6-Track
- Dolby Surround 7.1
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Ivan Reitman’s enjoyably silly (and occasionally genuinely scary) supernatural blockbuster about a team of amateurish ectoplasmic exorcists rescuing New York from a plague of ghouls was the most expensive comedy of its time.
Full Review | Dec 27, 2023
A part of me was for this film because I had enjoyed the cartoon series so much. This movie on its own is just "ok".
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Nov 20, 2022
This has a long legacy in cinema that is worth considering but I surprisingly didn't enjoy rewatching this. I found myself shrugging my shoulders a lot and being bothered by Winston's character arc or lack thereof.
Ghostbusters galvanized the comedy genre as a ferociously funny fable with state-of-the-art special effects and scares to spare.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Sep 1, 2022
It aims to please and makes certain we are all having a good time.
Full Review | Jul 21, 2022
While Ghostbusters II failed to have the same effect on me, it will take nothing away from the greatness of this film and is one of my personal top 10 films of all time. Ghostbusters is the definition of a classic.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4 | Feb 18, 2022
Ghostbusters is one of the greatest comedy films of all time!
Full Review | Feb 14, 2022
I also really appreciate that Aykroyd and Ramis' script is so tightly structured but joke dense. There is practically no wasted time in this film.
Full Review | Apr 1, 2021
It's the thrills of wraith-combating, action-packed citywide devastation, and carefree attitudes that highlight the adventures and give the film a strong sense of originality.
Full Review | Original Score: 7/10 | Sep 6, 2020
It is not intended to change anyone's life, just invite you to follow a fun and crazy group. [Full Review in Spanish]
Full Review | Aug 20, 2019
Partly because of the cast, partly because of the effects, partly because of Elmer Bernstein's score, and partly because of [Ivan] Reitman's directing style, it all just worked -- and it still does
Full Review | Nov 2, 2018
Despite the flaws I've dwelled on here, I feel real affection for "Ghostbusters." How could you not? It's goofy, funny, homey -- it's genuine comfort food.
Full Review | Original Score: A | May 15, 2017
...an erratic yet consistently entertaining summer blockbuster...
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | Jul 15, 2016
Ghostbusters is like romping through Disneyland's haunted house with Bill Murray.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | Jun 8, 2016
Ghostbusters is primarily a showcase for Murray, who slinks through the movie muttering his lines in his usual cheeky fashion and getting off an occasionally hilarious crack that proves he's thoroughly enjoying himself.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | Jun 16, 2015
The plotting may be primitive, but it's all carried off with far more style and finesse than one might expect from the creators of Animal House and Meatballs.
Full Review | Jun 16, 2015
It's almost impossible not to smile while watching it.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4 | Jun 16, 2015
Part of the sheer joy of this movie -- aside from the comic timing of Bill Murray -- is the cartoonish crapness of its apparitions and their placid acceptance by the Ghostbusters team.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Oct 31, 2014
What you realise about Ghostbusters thirty years on is that Bill Murray is a comedy genius.
Full Review | Original Score: 7/10 | Oct 29, 2014
It speaks to its entire audience, without ever seeming to joke over children's heads in a snide or overly knowing manner.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5 | Oct 27, 2014