The infectious charm of the original “Ghostbusters” (1964) was the goofy chemistry between bright, slyly satiric “SNL” comedians (Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson) and ectoplasmic special effects. The problem with this mediocre re-make is not the gender-redo but its lack of originality, along with a scarcity of in-jokes, irony and cynicism – and a repetition of the same supernatural special effects. Read on…
The story begins as Columbia University Physics Professor Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) realizes her bid for tenure has been endangered by the re-issue of a parapsychology book she wrote years ago with a high-school pal, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy).
When Erin tracks Abby down, she discovers that Abby’s still chasing ghostly phenomena, partnering with crazed tech-head Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). They’re soon are soon joined by cheeky MTA worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), a walking encyclopedia of New York folklore.
Setting up shop above a Chinatown restaurant, they joined by a dimwitted assistant, Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), who’s hired simply because he’s hunky. His incompetence is a running joke that overstays its welcome.
The playful plot involves Manhattan’s historic Aldridge mansion whose resident female ghost starts an epidemic of psychic nuisances. While the Mayor (Andy Garcia) and his assistant (Cecily Strong) are deep into deceptive denial, culpability can be traced back to Rowan North (Neil Casey), a resentful, demented creep.
Working from a screenplay co-written by Katie Dippold (“The Heat”) and director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids,” “Spy”), it‘s packed with coveralls-clad girl-power, along with some familiar faces.
Bill Murray is a respected debunker; Dan Aykroyd’s a cab driver who “don’t believe in no ghosts;” Ernie Hudson is Patty Tolan’s Uncle Bill; Amy Potts is a receptionist at the Mercado Hotel – and there’s a bust of the late Harold Ramis outside Erin’s office at Columbia University.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Ghostbusters” is a fantasy-funny 5 – slime-time for female friendship.