Puzzle Doctor At The Movies – Ghostbusters (2016)

New York City. A group of tourists are being shown round the Aldridge Mansion which has been rigged to have a pretend ghost. But when the tour guide is locking up, things become a little more real.

Meanwhile, former parapsychologist Erin Gilbert loses her job at her university and reunites with her former colleague, Abby Yates and her new associate, Jillian Holtzman. Abby and Erin wrote a book on the science of ghosts once upon a time and find themselves investigating the Aldridge Mansion. But the ghost in the cellar isn’t the only one in the city. Someone is intent on raising as many ghosts as possible – now who on earth are you gonna call to stop the chaos?Ghostbusters-2016-poster-web

Yeah, this isn’t a mystery. My film reviews have always been a little tangential to the rest of the blog, but I saw Ghostbusters last night and thought I’d share my opinions.

Let’s start off with the bad. The cinema I saw it in was weird – a few normal seats around the edge whereas the rest was fitted out like a restaurant, complete with bar at the side. I guess it was a party cinema, but it forced people to sit at the back of the room in some pretty uncomfortable chairs. And the chain restaurant next door was over-priced and seems to have given Mrs Puzzle Doctor food poisoning. Oh, and the “Answer The Call” tagline is rubbish.

Right, that’s the bad stuff out of the way – on with the good stuff. Best thing I’ve seen in the cinema for ages.

I was pretty hopeful, as while I’m not a fan of Bridesmaids, I have liked Paul Feig’s more recent work a lot, especially the Melissa McCarthy vehicle Spy (with a side-splitting turn by Jason Statham). And the primary cast has quite a comedy pedigree, both in film and on TV (mostly Saturday Night Live). Interestingly, McCarthy’s role is much more restrained than in some of her other outings (not that that’s a bad thing) while Kristen Wiig does a good job as the lead (although second-billed), playing to her comedy strengths as the slightly neurotic Erin. Lesley Jones is great as the new non-science recruit to the team, although the script doesn’t really use her knowledge of New York history as much as it could have done, but the star of the team is Kate McKinnon as the utterly bonkers Holtzman. It’s a performance that I imagine not everybody will like, but it really hit the spot with me. Absolutely hilarious and she never lets the air of mild insanity drop for a single second. And her solo action bit in Times Square is pretty damn cool.

The other breakout performance in the film is Chris “Thor” Hemsworth, showing for the first time (for me at least) some outstanding comedy timing, as Kevin, the Ghostbusters secretary. Never expected that.

I found myself smiling all the way through the film, and laughing out loud in places. Apart from the scary bits – the opening sequence is extremely effective and there are a few out genuinely creepy bits as well. The pacing is a little off at times – the second quarter seemed a little rushed and choppy in places – but that’s a mild niggle. It’s a cracking summer blockbuster and loads of fun. Highly Recommended.

… oh, you were expecting me to mention the other Ghostbusters film? Oh, OK, I suppose I better had.

I’ve fond memories of the first film. It’s not perfect either. In particular, Bill Murray’s character Venkman seems pretty objectionable through modern eyes. I believe the phrase in the Honest Trailer on YouTube is “borderline sexual predator”. Also, Ernie Hudson is completely wasted. And I never found it particularly scary either, although arguably it’s not supposed to be. But I enjoyed it when I saw it first and I’ve enjoyed it when I’ve watched it since. But there are a couple of icky moments – Dan Ackroyd getting a b*** j** from a ghost for example – that show that this film really wasn’t supposed to be for kids, whereas the new film is a more family friendly film, despite being much scarier in places. They’re two different films, with the new one paying homage to the first in the line of a bunch of mostly effective cameos (although one felt like an afterthought) from both actors and, um, characters from the first film – one of which elicited a little cheer when it happened. I’d hate to have to choose one of them over the other, but I’d strongly recommend anyone who enjoyed the original to go and see the new one. Highly Recommended.

Oh, and do stay for the end of the credits…

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13 comments

  1. Here in Northern California, all three have gotten bad reviews. I don’t think the San Francisco paper even covered GHOSTBUSTERS.) So thanks for giving me something to see in this arid movie summer!

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  2. I have been curious about this one. Here in Australia there is interest because of Chris Hemsworth. I liked the original, but I am always wary of remakes. I am still deciding whether to go to the cinema or just wait for it to go to free to air TV.

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  3. I was not so enamored of the original that I would feel negatively about the remake, but I did not see this film until yesterday, based on your recommendation! I love the four main actresses, actually far more than I did Ackroyd, et al, and I think they all did well. But they did it in service to a flat script and a derivative storyline. You could see how hard the actresses were working, and it’s evident from that last bit after the credits that they are hoping to make a sequel. (What was that word Jones said – “zoo?”) I just didn’t find anything about the film to make it special EXCEPT the fact that it centered around four women. It seems a shame that we still have to consider such a film special when there should be films centered around women coming out by the handfuls every week. Entertainment Weekly magazine wrote that the hopes of such a turnaround lay in the success or failure of this film! What a shame if this were true, and I’d like to think it isn’t true. Brokeback Mountain was a brilliant movie, and we haven’t seen a major Hollywood film about a gay relationship since then. A good movie about black or Latino characters shows up once or twice a year, and I can’t remember a strong Asian-centered movie since The Joy Luck Club.

    Getting off track. I loved the actresses, and Chris Hemsworth was, as always, hot! 🙂

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    • Oh, and I tried to ignore making a point of the all-female cast, as that seemed to be the focus of the hate directed at the film – and credit to the joke directed at that. I suppose that the notion of targetting certain audiences by the choice of leads is due to these films potentially making as much money as possible for the studio. Was Brokeback planned as a major film or an independent film that did very well?

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      • I wonder. What would be better – a successful film where the point of the story is the ethnicity/sexuality of the lead actors, or where the lead characters just happen fall into whatever category we choose but nobody makes a big deal about it?

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      • Both! We need to tell various stories revolving around the diverse ethnic/sexual/spiritual diversity of our planet, AND we need to be able to see non-specific roles carried by all sorts of people without batting an eye.

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