Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.
Running Time: 1 hr 56 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13
It’s been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with a then-original mix of comedy and supernatural action. Intriguingly, this new film is neither a sequel nor a remake; it’s a reboot of the franchise, which loosely adapts the original 1984 premise to all-new characters. Thankfully, the screenplay is smart and funny, and the cast is flat-out hilarious.
It opens as university professor Erin (Kristen Wiig) sees her hopes for tenure evaporate when a book she wrote years ago with her childhood pal Abby (Melissa McCarthy) resurfaces, affirming their belief in ghosts. So Erin seeks out Abby, and discovers that she’s still researching the supernatural, now with the sharp-witted gadget maker Jillian (Kate McKinnon). With spirit sightings on the rise in New York, the three decide to launch a ghost-busting business, joined by city expert Patty (Leslie Jones) and bimbo receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth). But the apparitions popping up around the city are getting increasingly malevolent, and it’s clear that an apocalypse is brewing.
The basic plot is lifted from the original movie, which is referenced in virtually every scene. Most of this is rather distracting, because a more original storyline would have been a lot more involving and the in-jokes will be lost on younger audiences. But it’s fun to see the original cast members turn up here and there in random cameos.
Like Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, this film also features veterans from Saturday Night Live. Wiig already has a varied movie career (this reunites her with Bridesmaids costar McCarthy and director Paul Feig), and this film gives scene-stealers McKinnon and Jones their first proper big-screen roles. Together, they have a terrific sense of camaraderie, which engagingly layers real warmth under the sassy attitude. It’s great to see a film led by women who don’t feel the need to find boyfriends or husbands. And Hemsworth is hilarious as their airhead eye-candy.
Filmmaker Feig keeps everything moving at full speed, filling scenes with eye-catching effects and a continual barrage of witty verbal and visual jokes. Several scenes feel oddly chopped together, with subplots that appear and disappear and running gags that don’t quite catch on. But thanks to the energetic likeability of the central quartet, none of that really matters. And as it goes on, the film becomes even funnier and genuinely scarier than the original. Which bodes well for the launch of a new franchise, as long as the writers have somewhere interesting to send these characters.