“Can I bring my cat to work?” asks Kevin Beckman. Abby Yates says, “Oh I’m sorry. I’m allergic to cats.” Kevin responds, “No. My cat’s a dog.” Abby asks, “Your cat’s a dog?” Kevin replies, “Yeah. Well, his full name’s Michael Hat but I just call him Mike Hat.”
Ivan Reitman directed a little movie called Ghostbusters in 1984 and it went on to become a critical and box office hit, spawning a couple of animated series and a live action sequel that was also successful (but not as much as the first film). Talks regarding a third Ghostbusters went on for years (Bill Murray was the main holdout). It seemed that Ghostbusters 3 was going to officially go into pre-production a couple of years ago, but the death of one of the original stars, Harold Ramis, put an end to it (Reitman couldn’t go forward in directing a new Ghostbusters film without Ramis). Sony went ahead with plans to reboot the franchise, and Paul Feig (the director of Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy) would be charged with the monumental task of bringing the world a new generation of Ghostbusters. There was a lot of Internet hate (mostly centered on the fact that women are doing the ghostbusting now) prior to its release, but now that I’ve seen Feig’s Ghostbusters on the big screen, I can gladly say that it was a joy to watch.
2016’s Ghostbusters follows a group of parapsychologists who, after being booted out of their respective universities, start a ghostbusting business in New York City. With the aid of an MTA employee, they discover that someone is planning to release ghosts from another dimension to terrorize the city. Feig assembles a fine cast that includes Kristen Wiig (as Erin Gilbert), Melissa McCarthy (as Abby Yates), Kate McKinnon (as Jillian Holtzmann), Leslie Jones (as Patty Tolan), Chris Hemsworth (as Kevin Beckman), Cecily Strong (as Jennifer Lynch), Andy Garcia (as Mayor Bradley), Charles Dance (as Harold Filmore), Neil Casey (as Rowan North), Matt Walsh (as Agent Rourke), Michael Kenneth Williams (as Agent Hawkins), Michael McDonald (as Jonathan the theater manager), Ed Begley Jr. (as Ed Mulgrave), Zach Woods (as the Tour Guide), Karan Soni (as Bennie), Nate Corddry (as the Graffiti Artist), Katie Dippold (as the Real Estate Agent), Steve Higgins (as the Dean), Bill Murray (as Martin Heiss), Dan Aykroyd (as the Cabbie), Ernie Hudson (as Uncle Bill Jenkins), Sigourney Weaver (as Rebecca Gorin), and Annie Potts (as Hotel Desk Clerk). The main four actresses shine; Wiig and McCarthy get to play fully rounded characters (a welcome change from the quirky characters they usually portray), McKinnon is the lovely scene-stealer, and Jones gets to be much more than just a sidekick. Hemsworth is also hilarious as their inept receptionist, as are the original Ghostbusters cast members in their cameos (Murray gets the meatiest one, and even Ramis gets to appear via a university head statue).
The screenplay by Feig and Dippold forges a new path for their team of Ghostbusters while making a few callbacks to the original film (a ghost balloon of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, the firehouse that was the headquarters of the original Ghostbusters, Slimer, etc.). Like the previous films, it balances the humor with a very serious spectral threat. Robert D. Yeoman’s cinematography reflects the tone of the film, and Jefferson Sage’s production design is incredible (I loved the basement of the Mercado Hotel). Jeffrey Kurland’s costume designs are top-notch, as are the special effects (the CG ghosts were pretty cool). The editing by Melissa Bretherton and Brent White moves the film at a good pace, and Theodore Shapiro’s score delivers thrills while integrating Ray Parker Jr.’s title song from the original into the score as its main theme. Feig’s Ghostbusters is a welcome remake that honors the original film while paving its own path. The Internet hate prior to the film’s release was unfounded and ultimately sexist; the female Ghostbusters are charming and work well together (I’m looking forward to future installments).