The 1984 original comedy film Ghostbusters did not need to be remade, in fact, most remakes never needed to see the green light with the lone exception of 2010’s Coen brothers classic True Grit. However, living in the era that we do, big budget studios only bet on the sure thing; and if people liked catching Ghostbusters in cinemas thirty years ago, why not again? Maybe the 2016 comedy remake didn’t make a huge splash during its opening weekend at the box office, but the movie certainly made enough capital back for Universal Studios to option a sequel before the weekend ended. Veteran comedy director Paul Feig (Spy, The Heat) teams up with a couple of his Bridesmaids collaborators and a couple “SNL” cast members taking the next stage of their careers to bring a funny, action-packed blockbuster that features the best 3D implementation of any film released this summer.
Perhaps the best thing going for the rebooted Ghostbusters lies in the fact that writers Feig and Katie Dippold (“Parks and Recreation”) have created completely new characters to populate their haunted world. Not a single new member of the team represents a ripped off version of a character from the 1984 movie. The formula may be the same, but the ingredients are of a different brand. The original featured Bill Murray as the protagonist and played off the icon’s lackadaisical rhythms, and this summer’s remake stars Kristen Wiig (Zoolander 2, Sausage Party) as the ambitious Dr. Erin Gilbert. Gilbert desperately needs tenure to secure employment for the years to come and can’t afford to have her history of studying ghosts come back to bury her reputation. Still a doctor like Murray’s Peter Venkman, Wiig plays her character more straitlaced, repressing her excitement for the paranormal to fit in among her academia peers. Gilbert is just as relatable as Venkman, but she isn’t lazy.
Trying to clear her name of any ghost nonsense, Erin approaches Abby, her old friend and former research partner. Academy Award-nominee Melissa McCarthy (“Mike and Molly,” The Boss) plays Abby, a scientist stuck in the basement of a poorly-funded local college still studying the paranormal after years with little to show for it. Abby agrees to clear Erin’s name if her old friend will introduce her and her new, eccentric lab partner, Holtzman, to the curator of an historical landmark who claims ghosts haunt the mansion where he works. Before Erin has a beat to breathe, she goes back to hunting ghosts and hires the knowledgeable Patty to navigate the Big Apple in their ghost-busting endeavors, in addition to the handsome, vacant Kevin attempting to answer a phone.
The most memorable, funniest performances in the new Ghostbusters don’t even come from the two well-known actresses with top billing. “Saturday Night Live” cast members Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones play free-spirited, over-the-top characters to help the audience (and Erin) ease into the rebooted setting with a smile as stars Wiig and McCarthy provide the majority of conflict within the plot. Thor himself shows up in the form of Australian thesp Chris Hemsworth (The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Avengers: Age of Ultron) as Kevin. He absolutely steals the show as Erin’s crush and hilariously empty-headed receptionist.
Ghostbusters won’t top Popstar as the summer’s funniest comedy, but it certainly ranks high on the list. Perhaps the most pleasantly surprising aspect of the remake is the excellent utilization of 3D. As the island of Manhattan fills up with angry spirits, Feig and company never fail to take advantage of the advances in visual effects since the 1980s. Who would have expected a Ghostbusters remake to potentially contend for an Academy Award? Slime, ectoplasm, jewelry, ghosts, flying demons and all manner of creepy substances jump out to startle the audience.
Although the remake of Ghostbusters never improves upon the original that inspired it, to have never assembled this cast of talented, funny actresses would have robbed audiences of a thoroughly fun and enjoyable comedy. If it can help silence the online sect of trolls needlessly bullying Leslie Jones specifically and the movie as a whole, let it be known the reboot can inspire a new generation to take an interest in science and history. These characters enjoy their chosen field and demonstrate as much in each and every scene. Perhaps the most impressive surprise to come out of the summer in terms of visual effects, the 3D in Ghostbusters will surely impress viewers if the humorous, numerous cameos don’t accomplish this task.