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WORTH CALLING: THE NEW ‘GHOSTBUSTERS’

I am not a fan of remakes, by and large, but I don’t consider it sacrilege to have rebooted this 1984 comedy hit…nor do I think it’s foolish to have cast it with females in the leading roles. In fact, it’s the women who make the movie so enjoyable. The interaction among Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones offers a fresh take on the basic story and sets it apart from the original.

Writer-director Paul Feig has made a specialty of crafting good parts for women in recent years, including Wiig and McCarthy (in Bridesmaids and Spy), so it should come as no surprise that he has developed entertaining characters for these actresses to play.

As for the plot, there isn’t much to say except that ghosts have been sighted in New York City. This causes former science buddies Wiig and McCarthy, who had a falling-out years ago, to join forces again along with inventor-tinkerer McKinnon and proactive subway worker Jones.

Feig plays to the women’s comic strengths, and dots the cast with talented people like Ed Begley, Jr., Charles Dance, Katie Dippold, Steve Higgins, Nate Corddry, Andy Garcia and, in a running joke as a bumbling hunk, Chris Hemsworth.

My chief complaint about Ghostbusters is that as it becomes more involved in actual ghostbusting, during the second half, it gets so caught up in elaborate visual effects that it too often forgets to be funny. It’s never dull, and blessedly, not stupid or raunchy…but like any remake, it lacks the spontaneity and surprise quotient of the first movie. Even the cameos by the original cast members, while pleasing, seem inevitable.

In sum, Ghostbusters offers agreeable light entertainment, if nothing particularly hilarious or memorable. Compared to some of the other summer offerings this year, this one can certainly hold its own.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

5 comments

  1. Lee says:

    I hope to see it

  2. Peter says:

    I like the phrase “it too often forgets to be funny.” This reminds me of the Get Smart movie a few years ago (with Steve Carell). They had forgotten the spirit of the original TV series and were trying to make an action movie, and not a very good one.

  3. Eric Smith says:

    Sounds like a solid 2 1/2 stars from you?

  4. Now, keep in mind that I’m going to try to make this as least-hostile as possible. But when a movie is this hypocritical, bigoted, and ignorant, there is nothing good that can be said about it. Except for the people who were literally bribed into writing positive reviews.

    1: This movie was stolen. Everything in this movie was stolen from the first two. All they did was literally take the first movie, and remove the action parts and the horror parts.

    2: The sexism. This movie is probably the most sexist movie since Doomsday Machine. They replaced the entire main cast with only women to appeal to the radical Feminists. When your ideology discriminates against who you can cast in a role, that is called Fascism, and it’s not a good thing.

    3: The bland lobotomized token male. Pretty much the only main character who was a man was turned into a stereotype. He was useless, annoying, fake, had an IQ below sea-level, and was clearly trying to pretend to be Brad Pitt, but with none of the acting talent. He also only got hired because of his looks.

    4: The racism. The only black character was turned into a loud, annoying, street-smart stereotype.

    5: The CGI. It was terrible, and very cartoon-like. “Daffy Duck: The Early Years”

    6: The acting. Not one single main character in the movie could act. Not one. It looked like a grade- school drama club.

    7: The “comedy”. Every single joke fell flat. I didn’t laugh once at anything they said. Many of the jokes were sexist, too. The trailer is a perfect summary of the movie. Every single joke was dumbed-down because Paul Feig has no respect for his audience.

    8: The entitlement. The cast and director have been throwing a hissy fit ever since people saw what garbage the first trailer was. They have been trying to claim that people who don’t like the movie are sexists. No, no, no, no, and NO. People who think they are entitled to success because of their gender are sexist. The cast of this movie is sexist. The director of this movie is sexist. The people who hate this movie are NOT sexist.

    9: So boring. This movie didn’t take any chances, and didn’t expand the Ghostbusters universe in any way.

    10: The product placement. It was everywhere. There might not have been a single scene where they weren’t advertising something in the background. It made me long for the days of Foodfight!

    In conclusion, nobody should every give their money to these lazy fatcats again. I for one am never buying another Sony product in my life. And if you pay to see this movie, you are a bad person.

  5. Jeffrey says:

    This turned out to be such a reviled film, unfairly so if you ask me. It was one the better films of the summer and although that’s cold comfort, it’s the truth.

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