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Review: “Ghostbusters” (PG-13)

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Hopper Stone/Sony Pictures Entertainment(NEW YORK) — The biggest mistake regarding this Ghostbusters remake — and it is a remake — isn’t actually in the movie.  It was the marketing. In the modern era of film promotion, I’m hard-pressed to think of a  worse teaser-trailer for a major motion picture than the one released for this one back in March. Since then, this movie’s perceived failure became fait accompli. One gets the sense that the pitchforks are out.

I’m here to tell you, I’ve seen this movie, and bustin’ still makes me feel good. You can’t count out director and co-writer Paul Feig, especially when he’s teaming up with Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig. Throw in the other-worldly-talented Kate McKinnon and the force of nature that is Leslie Jones, and something’s gotta give. What we get is a funny remake and tribute to one of the all-time great film comedies.

Wiig is Erin Gilbert, a physics professor at Columbia who’s hoping to get tenure. Then the owner of a haunted New York city mansion shows up at her classroom seeking help, jeopardizing Erin’s tenure as she’s pulled back into the world of paranormal investigation she abandoned. And that’s not all she abandoned: she also left behind her best friend and fellow scientist, Abby Yates (McCarthy).

Wiig and McCarthy are, essentially, rehashing the best of characters we’ve seen them play before — similar to what Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd did in the 1984 original. So there’s a nice symmetry there.  

Rounding out the quartet are quirky physicist and inventor Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon), and Patty Tolan (Jones), a toll booth clerk with encyclopedic knowledge of New York City landmarks.   Patty’s a much more layered and complex character than the trailers suggest, while McKinnon is incomparable and fantastic, pure joy every time she’s on screen.  And Chris Hemsworth, whose comedic timing has been an asset for his otherwise straight-arrow role as Thor, really gets to play here as Kevin, the handsome and terribly vapid  Ghostbusters secretary.

While the original movie had the Ghostbusters fighting a purely supernatural occurrence, here they’re fighting an actual bad guy. It seems these ghostbusters are also fighting another bad guy: the court of public opinion.  Considering the abundance of vitriol being spewed at the filmmakers and actors by people who hadn’t actually seen the film, it simply isn’t fair.

That said, this exercise won’t make anyone forget the first movie, but putting those proton packs on the backs of women instead of men works, for the most part, in the sense that the new Ghostbusters is entertaining and pays respect, in several original ways, to the Ghostbusters so many of us grew up with and love.

Three-and-a-half out of five stars.

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