Ghostbusters Plot Summary:
After a falling out over their belief in paranormal activity, scientists Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) reunite when ghost sightings all over New York City begin taking place. In an effort to prove their theories, they form the Ghostbusters to trap ghosts, and battle an oncoming invasion from another dimension.
Within the first twenty minutes we get a fart joke. A poop joke. And the vomit joke we all know and love from the trailers. I tried. I really tried. I can’t remember a time when I went into a movie more open minded and full of optimism and hope than this one. It just doesn’t work. Despite all the Ghostbuster baggage that automatically comes with this movie, we need to simplify what the main issue is – it’s not funny. Before any of the Ghostbusters show up on screen, I knew this wasn’t going to work. The opening sequence is lazy and hackneyed beyond belief. The slime was on the wall early on. And before all the naysayers scream at me “You just didn’t like it because it’s female Ghostbusters,” let me say this – the movie would have been a hell of a lot worse had it not been for this cast.
I feel for this cast. I really do. They are trying their absolute damndest to make this poor script work. All these characters are likable. They all have great chemistry. The problem is they are given scrap metal. Kristen Wiig’s first scene as the stuffy, stuck up Erin Gilbert has no chance of succeeding. It’s an awkwardly written scene that a seventh grader would write. Kristen Wiig is doing her absolute best to elevate the material. If these lines were given to a lesser comedian, it would have been truly cringe-worthy.
Melissa McCarthy is also short changed. While her character was no doubt the heart of the movie, you can tell the PG-13 rating held her back. There were times she was about to go on a classic McCarthy rant, but stopped short. This movie could have been saved by an R-Rating, but there was no chance of that happening as this was clearly aimed towards kids. There’s this long running joke of Abby ordering Chinese food and not getting enough wontons. Again, the comedy just doesn’t work. The actress who really gets hosed is Leslie Jones. Wow. I know Leslie Jones is funny. They wrote her the most clichéd lines I’ve ever heard in my life. Her only recourse was to yell things. What an absolute waste.
The one Ghostbuster I haven’t mentioned yet is Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann, the oddball engineer. It looks like the trailers were dead on because she was the one character we all thought could be hilarious, and that’s exactly what she was. McKinnon saves this movie from the dregs of comedy, bringing an insanely goofy, childlike spirit. She was a constant barrage of fascination every time she was on screen. It’s a shame this brilliant character was wasted in such a forgettable film. I wish like hell we could have seen Jillian Holtzmann interact with the original Ghostbusters. She would have fit right in.
Speaking of the original Ghostbusters, this was the real proton pack up my ass. Every time there was a cameo or reference to the original movie, it was totally and utterly pathetic. Awful. Bill Murray’s cameo was a complete disaster. It felt like there were Sony executives behind the camera pointing guns at him to stay on set. He did not want to be there. The Ernie Hudson cameo was fine, but Dan Aykroyd has one particular line that will make Ghostbuster fans slouch in their seats in shame. What really pisses me off is this is what studio executives think Ghostbuster fans want – forced references to the old movie. No. We don’t want that. It’s a half-assed attempt to make us happy, but what you’re really doing is fueling the fire on the already negative energy that surrounds this film. Other than one funny bit with Slimer, the old stuff should have been left at home. It was hard to watch so many great iconic images and lines get slashed in front of my face. It was a massacre.
That should be the film’s worst problem, but it’s not. The pacing felt way off. While the first half hour is passable, the film gets worse and worse. There’s way too much time spent on a villain who isn’t the least bit interesting, and by the second half I was completely checked out of the plot. I perked up whenever Kate McKinnon did something, but it’s a lifeless middle hour. At least Chris Hemsworth wasn’t as torturous as I thought he was going to be as the dummy pretty boy receptionist. He’s fine. What really frustrates me is he’s the one character they actually wrote decent material for, yet Hemsworth wasn’t capable of running with it. Channing Tatum would have crushed that role.
I truly believe in my gut if this was the first exposure the world ever had to Ghostbusters, I would feel the exact same way about this film. I’d probably say “there’s a cool concept here, but it’s horribly executed.” The fact that it holds the name Ghostbusters (I’m sorry, I can’t move past that) further adds to how pointless this is. The comedy falls flat on its face, and also commits one of my deadly movie sins when it gets all meta. There’s actually a scene where Melissa McCarthy tells Kristen Wiig to stop reading internet comments. Oh, for the love of Stay Puft. Cut me a break. I almost want to recommend this movie solely for Kate McKinnon, but it’s just not worth it. Call me nostalgic. Call me an old fart who can’t get over his childhood. I really don’t care. This subject matter should have been left alone, and these funny women should have been brought together for a totally original concept.
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Barely Passable Entertainment)
Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.