Ghostbusters – Don’t Be Afraid of This Ghost – Review

Courtesy Columbia

Courtesy Columbia

Let the Gender Wars begin!  OK, they began a long time ago, but Ghostbusters is one of the very few movies I have ever seen with this much division along gender lines.

Men hate it!

Women love it!

Men think it is humorless!

Women love the grrrl power theme!

Why so much discussion and consternation over such an average movie?

Kristen Wiig stars as Erin Gilbert – a professor on the cusp of tenure at Columbia University until her past catches up with her.  Yes, she once was a ghost hunter, and wrote a book all about it with her childhood friend, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy).

Abby is working at a less than reputable college with her new partner, Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), when the three are called to investigate a series of ghostly happenings around New York, the craziest of all being a sighting in the subway system, which brings Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) onto the team.

What is causing this spike in paranormal activity?

Will the Ghostbusters be able to stop it before it destroys New York City?

Trust me.  The plot doesn’t matter, so don’t bother taking notes or paying attention.  Certainly, don’t be searching for the nuance.

Writer/director Paul Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold aren’t interested in the ostensible plot of a tortured, angry man who wants to unleash the ghostly equivalent of a can of whoop ass on the world.  That portion of Ghostbusters needs a great deal more help and exposition to become important.

Instead, Ghostbusters is about creating the feeling and rhythm of the first movie while also inserting the talents of this new cast to give it some freshness.

Feig and Dippold follow the structure of the first one and make sure to throw in enough winks and nods to the original, including the use of Ray Parker Jr.’s theme song, all of the major cast members showing up in cameo roles (with one getting the ultimate line of dialogue), and some familiar ghostly villains along with an iconic firehouse and hearse.

However, the supporting actors put in the best performances, when we aren’t being bombarded with the most obvious and grossly overbearing product placement we have ever seen in a movie.

McKinnon is having the most fun of anyone on the screen as the brilliant and slightly deranged mechanical genius of the group who creates all of their weapons.  At times, she brings so much energy and humor you would swear she accidentally wandered in from another movie to make this one a little more interesting.

Jones is great playing the Leslie Jones character we know so well from Saturday Night Live.  Even though we have seen her like this in just about every movie and TV appearance, it never gets old because Jones knows how to add some texture and depth to a character who too easily could become a raving mad, screaming and yelling cartoon character.

Even Chris Hemsworth has some funny moments as Kevin – the world’s dumbest man who gets the job as Ghostbusters secretary because he is very very handsome.  He delivers some stupidity with subtlety and ease.  Much like Jones, it elevates the character from stock to entertaining.

Yet, McCarthy and Wiig just don’t have it in Ghostbusters.  Wiig always feels a step behind and another step too flat and unemotional.  She could be portraying the most unassuming, milquetoast leading character in movie history, which is not a compliment.  I think she has let all of the comic genius talk go to her head.

Then, McCarthy doesn’t add anything special to Abby to make her memorable.  In most scenes, you forget she is in the movie as Jones, McKinnon and Hemsworth all deserve more attention from the audience.

The actions scenes are barely passable.

The comedy hit or miss, and the overall story proving to us how we didn’t need another take on Ghostbusters.

I hope you are ready for the sequel threatened to us in the post-credits scene.

2waffles_sml2 Waffles (Out of 4)

Ghostbusters is rated PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor.