July 14, 2016

CINEMA | 'Ghostbusters' – Funny Women 'Answer the Call'

Melissa McCarthy Kristen Wiig Paul Feig | Ghostbusters 2016

Veteran comedy filmmaker Paul Feig takes on the unenviable task of remaking the Ghostbusters franchise in Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (as titled in the end credits) through a decidedly all-female focus set in present day. It's a weird movie that works mostly for its top-shelf cast and crew, but on the other hand, is largely disappointing as a franchise reboot introducing new elements while referencing a world it doesn't take place in.

The new crew of ladies, Melissa McCarthy with Saturday Night Live comedians Kristen WiigKate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones, are a fun, charismatic bunch, but they aren't afforded the same amount of character depth and build the original were. McCarthy and Wiig continue their nice comedic chemistry more as the straight women marvelling at the world of ghosts around them. McKinnon is delightfully funny but her performance is wildly offbeat and inconsistent with the other characters and world around her. Jones is her usual, broadly funny self yet it's hard to get past the perceived tokenism in her non-scientist character.

A truly funny and charismatic but overused Chris Hemsworth, as the dim receptionist, wears out his welcome in an overlong one-note character gag about his good looks and slow wit. Comedian Neil Casey is very underserved as the barely developed villain who seemingly represents the contemporary character type of the irrelevant angry fan/troll. Apart from the new cast, there are countless, excruciating cameos from nearly every living original cast member each shoehorned as a new, distracting character.

Feig's impressive direction is most evident in the staging of action sequences and the big budget visuals. In filming his first blockbuster, Feig manages to elevate his own script co-written with Katie Dippold and balances much of the chaos. It's just too bad the film drags and stumbles into the messy third act filled with overly CGI reliant action. Regular Wes Anderson cinematographer Robert Yeoman's work is impeccable in framing the complex visuals with a sense of fun and relative brightness. It's also fairly surprising how truly scary and frightening much of the ghosts are with their fairly realized execution.

The new Ghostbusters mostly works as a fun action comedy but not really as an actual Ghostbusters movie. Its talented cast, solid direction, and world-building are top notch but is weighed heavily down by its service to the original film and paying off its fandom. It's pleasing and glossy enough but is so painfully hindered by its slavish devotion to the cinematic source material without ever being its own whole experience.

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