Paul Feig’s gender-swapped Ghostbusters reboot is neither the catastrophe its foaming pre-haters want it to be nor the surprising laugh riot more rational minds desire; it’s a broadly entertaining blockbuster that does more good than bad, even if it feels like relatively low-hanging fruit on the whole.
When a disgruntled man (Neil Casey) unleashes ghosts upon Manhattan, it’s up to authors Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and subway employee Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) to put a stop to it. That’s basically all you need to know.
Much has been made of the new Ghostbusters movie being an all-female reboot, but honestly, it’s an incredibly easy adjustment and not something you’ll probably find yourself consciously thinking about as the movie plays out. Sure, the script very intentionally turns the tables on classic movie sexism to a point – the beautiful, drooled-over object of gaze isn’t Sigourney Weaver this time but rather Chris Hemsworth’s dum-dum receptionist Kevin, who easily steals the movie – but it’s clearly most interested in just crafting a fun, wacky, agenda-free sci-fi comedy.
And for the most part, Ghostbusters is fun. It is certainly overly safe and over-encumbered with embarrassing accouterments (you will want to go buy some Pringles by the time this thing is over, and the selfie stick “cameo” is painful beyond words), but it does feel like an honest-to-God Ghostbusters movie. Sure, the gags don’t always land and Wiig and McCarthy are surprisingly just OK here, but the hysterical McKinnon and Hemsworth are then given license to effortlessly run away with the movie.
It isn’t a touch on the original 1984 movie, but it’s certainly a match for if not slightly better than 1989’s Ghostbusters 2, which likely isn’t as good as you remember, especially if you haven’t seen it recently. From a storytelling perspective it’s immensely unambitious – the villain being an absolute dullard for one – and the final CGI-infused battle can’t hold a candle to Stay Puft’s original rampage, but it’s perfectly acceptable on the whole as disposable entertainment you probably won’t have a major desire to watch again any time soon.
Low expectations are certainly a help here, as the movie’s atrocious marketing campaign made it tough to be much enthusiastic about, and yet the sheer array of rat-a-tat gags and insane cameos make it a value-for-money night at the cinema just fine. Yes, it’s ultimately too long and only scarcely escapes the cynical reboot stigma, but it delivers the basic goods where it matters most.
Note: If you don’t like 3D that pours off the edges of the frame and onto the black widescreen bars, make sure to watch this in 2D. It caught me majorly off-guard and I found it both weird and distracting for the entirety of the movie.
Ghostbusters is in UK cinemas now and US cinemas July 15th