Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ghostbusters *1/2 (2016)

The new Ghostbusters movie epitomizes the problem with so many Hollywood movies in 2016:  the entire enterprise gets lost between trying to stay loyal to the original film , while attempting to deliver a new twist to a moldy franchise. A fail on both counts. Shoddy CGI effects + a milquetoast script = forgettable.

The all female recasting of the Ghostbusters seemed a fresh starting point for a remake, a great way to re-imagine the 1984 classic. The new cast of Krtisten Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones are all talented, but have no chemistry whatsoever. Everyone's doing their own shtick. How many times must Kristen Wiig get slimed?  How many food jokes at the expense of McCarthy?  

As for the plot, there isn't much of one.  Each scene plays more like a prolonged SNL sketch rather than a cinematic film.  Wiig is a Physics professor close to getting tenure until her supervisors discover she once wrote a book on paranormal studies with former colleague McCarthy, who works at a lesser college in New York City along with Holtzman (McKinnon) as her research assistant.

I'm not sure what to make of McKinnon's character: Is she simply eccentric?  Or does she have a personality disorder? Are we supposed to laugh at her because she is socially awkward? It's never clear.  

In fact the tone of the whole movie feels like audiences are supposed to laugh at the female Ghostbusters because they see the world differently and are therefore "weird," instead of laughing with them as hip outsiders with unique world views. 

They are joined by Patty (Jones), a New York subway worker, a character reduced to delivering sitcom ready one liners. She's rarely a part of the action, just comments on it.

Cameos from the original cast fall flat as well.  Why did Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson not reprise their old characters?  Why no changing of the guard scene? Their token appearances feel forced, like pleasantries you would exchange with remote relatives.  And that's never a good time.

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