(Apologies to readers of One Mann’s Movies for the extended absence: Mrs Movies insisted on dragging Dr Movies on holiday to a foreign location without cinemas. Sheeesh – imagine such a thing!).
Of Ghosts, Ghoulies and Trolls.
Aside from the curiosity of grown men walking off cliffs in pursuit of imaginary creatures, 2016 might go down in sociological terms as noteworthy for the vitriol meted out on a particular film – namely this all-female reboot of the much loved 1984 Bill Murray/Dan Ackroyd original (which spawned a rather less-loved 1989 sequel). Not only it seems have ghosts and ghoulies been unleashed on the world, but also trolls… lots of them. Quite why this is the case, before anyone had even seen the film, is a bit of a mystery to me…. Would this have happened if it had been a “traditional” male-dominated reboot? I suspect not. In which case the phenomenon is unpleasantly sexist and wrong. Perhaps the social experiment should include an all-Jewish or an all-Muslim cast next time?
Notwithstanding the internet furore, I went into this with low expectations…. but was pleasantly surprised. It’s not the best film ever made… but as a piece of summer confection, it is far better than most.
The plot is largely inconsequential, and follows the vague outline of the original 1984 flick: scary opening; Ghostbusters formation; ghouls released by misfit bad guy; big squishy thing (literally); Ghostbusters to the rescue; will they win through? (erm… guesses anyone?).
In a bit more detail, Erin (Kristen Wiig) is alarmed to see her academic reputation rocked by the appearance on Amazon of a book she ghost-wrote (arf) many years ago with Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). Abby and her kooky colleague, engineering whizz-kid Jillian (Kate McKinnon), are quietly beavering away at a dodgy academic institution in a pseudo-scientific study of the supernatural. The three – together with freaked-out subway ticket clerk Patty (Leslie Jones) – get drawn into the supernatural schemes of loner terrorist nut-job Ed Mulgrave (Ed Begley Jnr) as New York goes non-linear on the spookometer.
Classifying the film is a bit tricky since it’s not strictly a remake; neither is it a complete reboot. One of the charms of the film in fact is its warm and frequent referrals to the original classic, including (largely) amusing cameos from all but two of the main original cast (excluding Harold Ramis, who died in 2014 – and to who the film is dedicated – and Rick Moranis who just said “no”). A nice example is the selection of the fire station as the Ghostbuster’s headquarters: a choice that is then declined due to the astronomical rents in favour of the upstairs floor of a Chinese takeaway! But as well as wallowing in nostalgia, the film is also aware of its 2016 roots, with some topical jokes and an hilariously barbed anti-trolling reference to the internet furore: a Youtube comment “Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts.”.
I have to admit to not being an enormous fan of Melissa McCarthy’s shtick (she falls in my ‘Rebel Wilson’ categorization box), but Kirsten Wiig is excellent and consistently made me laugh: and there is a lot of good laugh-out-loud humour in here, with the script by Katie Dippold and Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”, “Spy” and who also directs) hitting about a 70:30 hit:miss rate. A more acquired taste is Kate McKinnon who takes kooky to a whole new level. I quite liked her: my wife felt her the weakest of the four leads. But the standout comedy performance here was – surprisingly – by Chris “Thor” Hemsworth as the ‘dumb but can dance’ male secretary Kevin (“such a manly name”). He’s a scene-stealer, and adds significant entertainment value to the appealing and clip-filled end-titles.
But perfect it’s not. The start of the film lumbers rather than launches into its stride (not helped by the up-front ‘scar-ee’ – tour guide Zach Woods – being a wise-guy joke cracker rather than a straight-man… library-lady must be turning in her grave); some of the interplay between the lead characters comes across as forced and a tad cringy; the music editing seems curiously inept at times; and some of the special effects bear more comparison to the 80’s films than modern day state-of-the-art.
But as a park-brain-at-door summer comedy it didn’t disappoint: and if my rating is perhaps a half-Fad over-generous this is just to counter the internet haters: “I ain’t afraid of no trolls”.
Fad Rating: FFFF.