Review: ‘Ghostbusters’ busts through expectations

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When Ivan Reitman’s paranormal comedy, Ghostbusters, hit the silver screen in 1984, audiences fell in love with the four quirky ghost hunters saving New York from a paranormal apocalypse. The movie quickly became a classic, and it seems as if everyone knows who to call if there is something strange in their neighborhood.

This past weekend, the faces behind that phone call got a big shot of girl power. Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon don the ghost-busting jumpsuits as brainy scientists dedicated to proving that ghosts exist.

The Ghostbusters Abby (Melissa McCarthy), Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Patty (Leslie Jones) inside the Mercado Hotel Lobby in the film.

Columbia Pictures

The Ghostbusters Abby (Melissa McCarthy), Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Patty (Leslie Jones) inside the Mercado Hotel Lobby in the film.

Childhood friends Erin Gilbert (Wiig) and Abby Yates (McCarthy) reunite to investigate a haunting after Gilbert left their partnership for a job in Columbia University’s metaphysics department. Yates has since teamed up with a brilliant nutty-professor-like engineer, Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon). Together the three quit their jobs and open a business to capture and study ghosts. A local New Yorker, Patty Tolan (Jones), soon joins the team to help them navigate the city.

Though the decision was controversial from the start, having women play the new league of paranormal police made the comedy and the bonds and interactions between characters stronger. Unlike the original, this new generation of Ghostbusters focuses on the growth of these characters as a team rather than individual romantic storylines. In fact, aside from the early flirtations Gilbert tries with the attractive but useless assistant, Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), there is no romantic plot to the film at all.

Just as each character brings a skill to the team, each comedian brings a different type of comedy. Wiig contributes her trademark awkward antics. McCarthy alternates between well-timed childish jokes and highbrow comments. McKinnon adds speed and absurdity that left me rolling on the floor as the oddball of the group, and Jones provides confidence and observational humor. Together these women kept me laughing throughout movie and even into the credits. They even have the guts to call out the skeptics throughout the film to prove women can be funny after all.

Although this reboot stands on its own in many ways, it does not forget to pay homage to its roots. The film is full of both subtle and in-your-face (sometimes literally) cameos and nods to the original 1984 movie. Still, the comedy is not afraid to make fun of its predecessor just as quickly, be it by calling out the iconic firehouse or the friendly ghost logo. The writers held nothing back, and the result is hilarious.

The film was set up to succeed from the beginning. It had good writing, a cast known for filling the theaters with laughs and a solid fan base to pander to, but the cherry on top is the CGI.

Ghostbusters has some solid CGI that harkens back to the original film but gives this one a flair all its own.

Columbia Pictures

Ghostbusters has some solid CGI that harkens back to the original film but gives this one a flair all its own.

The selective and stylized use of it adds comical and surreal elements to the action. For a film about the dead, Ghostbusters really brings the ghosts to life. The effects used for the ghosts and beams perfectly mix realism and humor. Even things like demon dragons and evil possessed mannequins blend well with the actors and general style of the movie.

It is clear that this next generation of Ghostbusters will be around for a while. Although it might never reach the classic status of its predecessor, it is definitely worth seeing in theaters.

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