Feig and co make a good call

Harefield Gazette - - LEISURE -

IF there's some­thing strange in your neigh­bour­hood, who ya gonna call?

Film­maker Paul Feig. The hugely suc­cess­ful di­rec­tor of Brides­maid, The Heat and Spy ap­plies a gen­der re­ver­sal to an ef­fer­ves­cent re­make of the 1984 su­per­nat­u­ral com­edy about a quar­tet of para­psy­chol­o­gists, who make a liv­ing cap­tur­ing spooks in New York City.

Nos­tal­gia oozes like ec­to­plasm from ev­ery glossy frame of this special ef­fects-laden Ghost­busters, in­clud­ing cameos for most of the orig­i­nal cast and re­peated bursts of Ray Parker Jnr's in­fec­tious theme song.

"I ain't afraid of no ghosts," dead­pans one fa­mil­iar face and it's cer­tainly true that there are few jumps in a script cowrit­ten by Feig and Kate Dip­pold that awk­wardly mar­ries spec­tral scares with twisted hu­mour.

The mon­strous Stay Puft Marsh­mal­low Man and greedy green ghoul Slimer play their part too.

Ac­tress Melissa McCarthy, the di­rec­tor's lucky tal­is­man, is in fine fet­tle, ef­fu­sively trad­ing quips with co-stars in­clud­ing a scene-steal­ing Chris Hemsworth as the team's hunky male re­cep­tion­ist, Kevin, whose chest mea­sure­ment in inches ex­ceeds his I.Q.

"You know an aquar­ium is a sub­ma­rine for fish," ca­su­ally re­marks the beef­cake in one of his cere­bral in­ter­ludes.

Erin Gil­bert (Kris­ten Wiig) hopes to se­cure ten­ure at Columbia Univer­sity, but her aca­demic fu­ture is thrown into dis­ar­ray when child­hood friend Abby Yates (McCarthy) ped­dles copies of their long for­got­ten 400-page tome, Ghosts From The Past: Both Lit­er­ally & Fig­u­ra­tively.

The two women are re­united in the lab where Erin con­ducts ex­per­i­ments with her mad­cap pro­tegee, nu­clear en­gi­neer Jil­lian Holtz­mann (Kate McKinnon).

A haunt­ing at Aldridge Man­sion gives the trio their first glimpse of the fight ahead and, soon af­ter, ballsy subway worker Patty Tolan (Les­lie Jones) joins the team, blessed with an en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge of Man­hat­tan's grim his­tory.

It tran­spires that a de­mented mis­fit called Rowan North (Neil Casey) is sum­mon­ing ghosts to cre­ate a vor­tex between the liv­ing and the dead.

Armed with pro­to­type back­packs, the gang gal­lantly races into the fray, risk­ing ridicule from the me­dia and Mayor Bradley (Andy Gar­cia).

When dis­as­ter looms, Erin pleads with Bradley to evac­u­ate the city.

"Please don't be like the mayor in Jaws!" she screams, urg­ing di­rect ac­tion rather than cau­tion.

Ghost­busters af­fec­tion­ately harks back to the series' glory days be­fore the creative mis­step of the 1989 se­quel.

McCarthy and Wiig rekin­dle their Bride­maids on-screen chem­istry, with colour­ful turns from McKinnon and Jones, and mer­ci­less self-mock­ery from Hemsworth.

The script pa­pers over gap­ing holes, in­clud­ing the ab­sence of a back­story for kooky arch-vil­lain Rowan, with spec­tac­u­lar ac­tion se­quences and pop cul­ture ref­er­ences like when the team claims a ghost flung a man out of a win­dow and an in­cred­u­lous cop replies, "You mean, like Pa­trick Swayze?"

Pre­sum­ably they are sav­ing a pot­tery wheel se­duc­tion in­volv­ing a top­less Hemsworth for the se­quel.

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