Director: Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) Starring: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth Verdict: Paranormal slacktivity THIS long-awaited Ghostbusters reboot is carrying a lot of ugly excess baggage.
With social-media trolls vigorously protesting the all-female lead cast for more than a year, there have been North Korean nuclear tests that have enjoyed better pre-release buzz.
So let’s get one thing absolutely straight: in no way is this that blamethe-women-drivers car crash all those frightened fanboys so wanted it to be.
This is not to say Ghostbusters is a great action comedy, or much of a good one. The movie has clearly been repeatedly smoothed down during editing in response to the outcry.
The filmmakers have chickened out of making Ghostbusters a must-see, and nervously settled for retooling it as a no-need-to-avoid.
The cast is spearheaded by the winning Bridesmaids duo of Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, both of whom spend a lot of energy trying to extract decent laughs from needlessly bland, play-safe characters.
Wiig plays Erin, a nervous academic physicist who has turned her back on a lifelong shared interest in the paranormal with her ex-best friend Abby (McCarthy).
However, when a wave of ghostly incidents start occurring all over New York, Abby coaxes Erin back to their old ghoul-hunting ways.
Thanks to the gadgetry genius of the kooky engineer Jillian (Kate McKinnon) and the fearless bravado of boisterous subway officer Patty (Leslie Jones), Abby and Erin soon have the gear and the team to make their one-time hobby a viable professional career.
Although the script is a rather thin retread of the original Ghostbusters, the two movies part ways very quickly when it comes to maintaining a unified, coherent comic vibe.
While the first ’Busters was a bit of a shambles in most departments, it got by on the chemistry of its leads, and their ability to mess around in a way that kept propelling the movie forward.
In the new ’Busters, the four femmes out front are rarely on the same wavelength for the long, and are often forced by some wonky scripting to go their own separate ways (or in the case of McKinnon, a whole other movie) to score their laughs.
The paradoxically loose, yet unadventurous approach of director Paul Feig smothers most opportunities for set-piece scenes to rise above a pre-ordained average outcome.
While the effects-driven sequences add fresh fizz to some very flat water at vital junctures – and a running gag involving Chris Hemsworth as the heroines’ toyboy receptionist stays just the right side of getting old – this isn’t the Ghostbusters we had to have.
It is the Ghostbusters some illadvised talents were lucky to get away with.