Ghostbusters comes with baggage. It’s a reboot of a beloved franchise. The original 1984 Ghostbusters is a comedy classic that defined a generation. The first film is so iconic that when director Paul Feig announced the current one with an all woman ghost-busting team, fans accused him of ruining their childhood. The gender flip is the film’s USP but it also turned this popcorn comedy into some sort of cultural benchmark – the narrative around the film became – if this film doesn’t work, it’s a setback for the cause of women in film.
Forget all of this when you walk in. The new Ghostbusters is unpretentious fun. It’s lightweight and amiable and occasionally silly. The writing doesn’t have the sharp edge or the originality of Feig’s earlier collaborations with Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy. But there is a genuine sweetness here. Feig gets women – our conversations and friendships, desires and disappointments. The big visual effects scenes in the film tend to sag but the minor asides are delightful. There’s a very funny running gag about the difficulty of getting good Chinese take-out in New York. These women – McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones – are hugely talented and extremely likable. Just watching them kicking butt wearing identical jumpsuits made me smile. And if you like eye-candy in your movies, there’s Chris Hemsworth – perfect in every way as the dim-witted secretary who is hired for his looks alone.
Feig dutifully doffs his hat to the original. We get the unforgettable theme song, cameos from that incredible cast – including Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. The truth is that there was enough here to create a comedy classic.
I’m going with 3 stars.