GHOSTBUSTERS, US, 2016. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate MacKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Ed Begley Jr, Andy Garcia, Cecily Strong, Michael Kenneth Williams, Matt Walsh, Charles Dance, Neil Casey, Ozzy Osbourne. Directed by Paul Feig. 115 minutes. Rated PG (Mild supernatural themes and violence)
Ghostbusters was a very popular hit of the 1980s so there is no reason why Ghostbusters should not be a very popular hit of 2016. While there was a sequel in the 1980s, there have been thoughts of another sequel or a remake for quite some time. Now it is here – and, before its release, subject to a great deal of misogynistic comment.Female Ghostbusters? The normal response should have been, why not? But some seem to be offended by the very idea!
There was also some comment that those involved with the original film were not too pleased originally with a remake – however, the original director Ivan Reitman is an executive producer, Bill Murray has an amusing cameo, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson show up in brief spots and Sigourney Weaver turns up during the final credits.
A report has come from China that Ghostbusters is being banned because any film that fosters superstitions should not be shown in the People’s Republic. That certainly misunderstands Ghostbusters. If anybody takes the film literally, the range of ghosts cavorting on the screen, the tactics of the Ghostbusters themselves, they are certainly misinterpreting what is a big budget, special effects entertainment.
However, once antipathetic male audiences get over their problem with female Ghostbusters, they have to tackle the issue of whether they like Melissa McCarthy or not (and there have been some male male grouches about her as well). She is a bit lower key here than usual, working in the laboratory for developing formulas and machines to discover and combat the ghosts, working with her zany partner, Holtzmann (stand-up comedian Kate MacKinnon who is pretty good in her role). The other main Ghostbusters is Erin, played by Kristen Wiig, who had written about ghosts in the past but has since left that part of her life behind, concentrating on science and obtaining tenure in a university (from superior, Charles Dance).
The fourth Ghostbusters is Patty, an African-American actress in the larger-than-life vein of Queen Latifah, who works in the New York subway, discovers ghosts and joins the team.
The ghosts themselves are comic creatures, many of whom might be found in a carnival, and a Ghost Train ride. However, there is a mad villain who is able to capture ghosts with his machine and intends to release them for apocalyptic mayhem.
One of the very entertaining aspects of the new Ghostbusters is the presence of the receptionist for the team. It is a role reversal of the dim young woman who finds office work challenging, rather oblivious to her shortcomings. This time it is the dim young man who certainly finds office work challenging, even answering the phone, and certainly oblivious to his shortcomings.He is played with exceeding good spirits by Chris Hemsworth, very un-Thor-like, and, during the final credits, very Saturday Night Fever like in his dancing.
Andy Garcia turns up as the mayor of New York City.
In many ways, the original Ghostbusters was fairly ordinary in its way but brought to life by the verve of its stars. It is the same here, although there are huge advances in special effects since the 1980s. so, undemanding entertainment.
Sony Released July 14th
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.