Film review: Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016), directed by Paul Feig
tl;dr: But why isn’t it BETTER? :/
Professor and Serious Scientist Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) wants tenure at her university, but it’s hard to be taken seriously when you find out your friend and former co-scientist, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), has published that book about ghosts you guys wrote years and years ago … and said book seems to be selling very well, and she’s not wanting to take it down, because hey, it’s selling! People are reading their research, it’s great!
Not-So-Serious Scientist Abby is doing ghost-related research at a college together with quirky scientist Jillian Holzmann (Kate McKinnon), and when they find out someone’s approached Erin about a haunting, they want in. Maybe Abby might even consider taking the book down in return, but seriously, this could be THE break-through.
So, the three scientists team up and set up shop above a Chinese restaurant, hire someone to answer the phones – the inept Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) who admittedly wasn’t exactly hired for his phone-answering skills … of which he has none – and get to work. The team is eventually joined by a New York subway employee, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), who brings some well-needed street-smarts and local knowledge to the team. Ghosts are about to be well and truly busted.
Also starring Neil Casey as Rowan North, Ed Begley Jr as Ed Mulgrave and Charles Dance as Harold Filmore, with cameos from original Ghostbusters alumni Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver. Harold Ramis (Egon), having passed away in 2014, is represented by his son Daniel. It’s a nice touch.
Wow, the controversy surrounding this film is unreal. It’s not a straight-up remake, first of all, it’s a reboot with a different cast and the team happen to be female. This film existing does not ruin your childhood memories of the original film unless you’re a massive crybaby. The original film is still there, untouched, so shut the fuck up.
I rather liked the original film, and thought it sounded fun that they were rebooting it with different leads. In fact that the main cast is female instead of male is good in the way that it puts a bit of a crowbar between new and old, so there is no direct comparison. Had they been male and called Venkman, Spengler and co., the ruining of childhoods card could legitimately be played. Because these are different people entirely it can stand on its own in a different way.
Wanting to reserve judgement on it until I had actually seen it, I was excited to finally see the film on Netflix. While the CGI these days is vastly better than the mid-1980s, the female cast isn’t the problem. Not in the slightest. The problem is that it’s not a very good film. The plot is a bit lacking, and Kate McKinnon’s purpose seems to mainly be standing around and make faces and “be quirky”. Like … couldn’t she have been given more to do than that?
If I remember correctly, a lot of the film was improvised, and I think therein lies at least a part of the problem. It devolves into silliness very often. Silliness isn’t a bad thing in itself, but when it puts the plot on hold in order to goof out for a few minutes, it becomes grating.
The cast in general is good, I enjoyed the characters and their trying to get to grips with how to become official ghost exterminators. (I mean, we can discuss the unrealistic hauntings for days, but that goes for 99% of all films involving ghosts, not just this one, and at least here it’s done for teh lulz.) This isn’t McCarthy and Wiig’s first rodeo, and I’d like to see more of Jones and McKinnon in the future. I love seeing Hemsworth in comedic roles, because he’s actually really funny, and he’s definitely taking the micky out of himself as the pretty-boy here.
But I expected the film to be better than this, because with this cast they could have done so much more, but it’s just all a bit meh but with decent CGI and the occasional chuckle. Sadly, it didn’t live up to my expectations of a Ghostbusters film, and barely up to expectations as a film in general. Still, they could always make a sequel and, unlike the old Ghostbusters II, actually make it better than the first one. Here’s to hoping!
3 out of 5 hearses.