I take it back; Finding Dory is not the most unnecessary movie of the summer. That title goes to the remake of Ghostbusters.
Let me begin with a huge, embarrassing confession: I have not watched the original Ghostbusters all the way through. I saw the beginning and the ending, enough to understand most of the references, but even that was rather a long time ago. If you believe that disqualifies me from having an opinion on the new one, feel free to quit reading now. I won’t even disagree. But the way I see it, even a remake should be able to stand up on its own if it’s going to be, in any sense, a good movie. So here’s the fairly unbiased opinion of a newcomer to the franchise.
The new movie starts with two childhood friends, a science professor and a paranormal investigator, reluctantly teaming up to investigate a haunted house in New York City. The team-up becomes permanent after they actually meet their first ghost. Together with an unbalanced particle physicist and a street-smart subway attendant, plus a pretty-but-brainless secretary, they form the Ghostbusters and start seeking out spirits to send packing. But their job becomes a little bigger when they discover that someone is plotting to release millions of ghosts into NYC in an attempt to take over the world.
Without a doubt, the biggest problem with this movie is that it exists. The fact that a studio felt the need to remake a beloved classic like Ghostbusters to fill their summer roster, instead of coming up with a new idea, is yet another depressing sign that originality no longer has a place in Hollywood. Nobody asked for a Ghostbusters remake, and judging by the amount of hate it got on YouTube before the real trailers even emerged, most people weren’t happy to see one (especially not an all-female one). And I can’t really say from personal experience, but I’m guessing the new movie doesn’t live up to its predecessor. How could it? The idea just isn’t fresh anymore.
But if you can ignore that problem, there really aren’t too many others to find. I enjoyed this movie. It made me laugh. The main cast does a great job in their roles–particularly Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzman, the crazy physicist, and Chris Hemsworth as the brainless secretary. (Heh.) You can argue all you want about whether the new actresses are as good as the all-male ’80s cast, but I found them hilarious in their own right. And most of the laughs come from the characters’ goofy personalities rather than toilet humour, which I appreciate. The only time when the action dragged a bit was at the end, when an overabundance of CGI made the climactic battle look too much like a noisy laser light show. Other than that, though, it was fun. It didn’t blow my mind, but it was an entertaining two hours.
It did strike me, as I was watching, that this is the first female-driven comedy I’ve seen in a long time that wasn’t all about sex or romance. There are a million buddy movies out there about guys just being best friends, but it’s rare to see a movie about female friendships that isn’t also about their dating lives. So this movie, which features exactly zero romantic subplots (unless you count Kristen Wiig’s character’s crush on Chris Hemsworth), was kind of refreshing in that way.
I don’t know if Ghostbusters will make enough money to spawn the sequel it teased at the end of the credits, but I do hope it spawns the right kinds of imitators. Namely, more female-driven buddy movies. They really can work, especially with good actors, as this movie demonstrates. But no more remakes, please. We don’t need any more ghosts from the ’80s haunting the box office.