IT’S IMPOSSIBLE NOT to compare this lame reboot of Ghostbusters with the inventive, wildly entertaining original. Despite the bland initial trailer, all signs for the new version pointed in the right direction: writer director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy, several episodes of Nurse Jackie) made (slapstick, raunchy) female powered comedy a big-hit reality; the idea of re-imagining the ghostbusters as women was inspired; the cast were proven comedy talents; the decision to throw in beefcake Chris Hemsworth as the male version of the cliched gorgeous dumb blonde had real promise and the potential of updated CGI excitement offered much (the one element that did not disappoint)
But… there must have been a ghost in the writing machine… a demon of drabness in the dialogue… a sepulchral spectre of staleness stealing away with the wit, as any real humour in this groaning Ghostbusters is nothing more than an advertising apparition.
The cast certainly try hard enough. They grind away with exaggerated enthusiasm through all the set-piece scenes as they battle against both an uprising of the dead and the refusal of a terrified government (hammily personified by Andy Garcia as the Mayor) to acknowledge the existence of these whispy, malignant, slime-vomiting ghouls.
SNL’s Leslie Jones, the token Black Person, exuding Black Folksiness seems to be the only one who seems to feel comfortable in the sly irony of her role.
And that’s the problem. Feig’s script sticks to the script (the original Ghostbusters idea) with such fidelity that (apart from a – very few – nice touches) the inventiveness of four women taking on the living and the dead (not to mention all that SNL talent) is never unleashed.
The exuberant Melissa McCarthy seems strait-jacketed and unsure whether to go for the big gesture or contain herself; Kristen Wiig (SNL) is the mousy scientist with a lust for more than science. By the end of the movie, she’s transformed herself into… a mousy scientist with a lust for more than science. Fellow SNL alumni, Kate McKinnon, tries to channel the eye-popping zaniness of Christopher Lloyd from Back to The Future. Poorly. And Chris Hemsworth may make for a great Thor, but his comedy chops is as leaden as his Viking hammer.
Various cutesy cameos pop up to pay homage to the past (Bill Murray, Ozzy Osbourne, Dan Aykroyd, Al Roker, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver). They’re cute but don’t bring very much to the show really.
We don’t even get much of that great music. The decision was taken to radically update and modernize it. That’s like turning the soul stirring Bond theme into a rock version and hoping it’d signal with-it modernity.
What a missed opportunity.
I guess for belly laugh humour we’ll just have to stick to those two stalwart comedians, uniting the world in laughter these days: the vulgar reality star running for US president and Boris Johnson.
Ghostbusters. Dir: Paul Feig. Screenplay: Paul Feig and Katie Dippold (Parks and Recreation). With Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth. Cinematographer: Robert D Yeoman (Spy, The Grand Budapest Hotel); Production Designer: Jefferson Sage (Spy)