The Hippo


Aug 24, 2019








Ghostbusters (PG-13)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

By Amy Diaz

Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones power up to fight malevolence-intentioned paranormal beings in Ghostbusters, a movie that will indeed get that song stuck in your head but is totally worth it.

Physics professor Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is days away from getting tenure at Columbia University when a man appears in her classroom claiming that the 19th-century mansion where he works is haunted and waving around a book Erin co-authored about the existence of ghosts. Erin is horrified to find out that the book, which she wrote with her former best friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), is still available (on Amazon, hardback, e-book or audiobook, she learns). Since it is the first thing you get when you Google her name, she goes to visit Abby, from whom she is estranged, to ask her to remove the book from Amazon so that Erin won’t look like a quack to her school’s tenure committee. Abby agrees if Erin will take her to the haunted mansion and help her and her fellow paranormal investigator Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) get inside. 
Once at the mansion, though, Erin’s old interest in ghosts is rekindled when the trio find a full-on, late 19th-century fancy-dressed ghost floating around (and eventually spewing slime). She enthusiastically proclaims her belief in ghosts — and unfortunately, video of the moment winds up on the internet. Fired from Columbia, Erin decides to join Abby and Holtzman in a serious study of the paranormal, using legitimate science to investigate and study ghosts.  
Luckily for them, ghosts are trending. MTA worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) sees a ghost, and a strange device connected to the power, on the tracks of the subway. She calls in the ladies to investigate and soon decides to join them in the search for who seems to be summoning the spirits and what their game plan is. Eventually the Ghostbusters, as the media names them, are fielding calls for help from around the city. Unfortunately for their fledgling business, their lovely but not especially bright secretary Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) is still learning how to use the phones. 
Or, perhaps, how to use any phone.
In some ways, this is Director Paul Feig’s most J.J. Abrams-like movie. While Spy and The Heat reference and play with movie genres, themes and visuals, this is directly paying homage to a specific movie, and not just a movie but a piece of decades-old pop culture. This feels like Feig having fun, playing with his favorite toys as well as some pretty cool vintage toys. The movie is infused with a sense of “look what they’re letting me do; this is so cool!” that gives the movie energy and joy. Ghostbusters is kind of the comedy Star Wars: The Force Awakens — you get some nostalgia, some familiar faces, some visual and dialogue winks as well as some fun new characters and an actually pretty promising setup for what could become a new franchise if audiences throw enough love and money its way.
Which, if it were up to me, they would.
I’ll admit that I was completely in the tank for this movie going in. In fact, I had to remind myself that I couldn’t will the movie to be awesome, I just had to let it happen. And, I think if you don’t put your high expectations or your “this will ruin my childhood” complaints or whatever weird Ghostbusters/Melissa McCarthy/Paul Feig baggage you might have on this movie, it does, in fact, unfold just fine. The movie’s overall excitement at just being here makes up for a lot of the movie’s flaws — for any bits that feel not quite as well developed as they could be or a little more stapled together than smoothly edited. (There is one particular scene where Erin’s reason for tagging along into the haunted mansion is mostly but not quite totally explained. It is an example of the movie doing well enough but lacking a bit of finesse.)
Also making up for rough bits in the dialogue or story construction or editing are plenty of really fun details about the way these Ghostbusters work and work together. Not that I necessarily want to wade into all the internet blah about what it means that they’re all girl Ghostbusters but I really like the way these Ghostbusters are girls. With the exception of Erin, who clearly has lusty thoughts about pretty pretty Kevin despite agreeing with the rest of the group that he isn’t the sharpest Swiss Army knife, we don’t really know anything about these ladies’ romantic lives or interests to which I say “huzzah! let the action movie focus on the action.” 
I like that these gals are friends and that their friendships are totally organic to the kind of personalities they have. I like that Holtzmann is allowed to be wonderfully weird without a lot of explanation; Abby has an obsession with soup, and Patty is clearly someone who has a stack of obscure history books about New York next to her bed and probably thinks things like “sweet! a map of 1835 lower Manhattan” and is still allowed to rock some solid hoop earrings. I like that Erin is initially set up to be something like the straight man but is quickly shown to be an oddball herself. I like that the movie develops the relationship between Abby and Erin in such a way that you can totally picture their teenage selves, sitting at home on Saturday nights and poring over library books about the supernatural while also discussing, like, the relative merits of jelly shoes versus Keds. 
I don’t know, have I said the word “fun” enough in this review? Let me do it again: Ghostbusters is super fun. This movie has a “let’s play Ghostbusters” quality that seems pretty squarely aimed at me and people like me (a woman of roughly the same generation as the women in the cast, or at least at as the age the women in the cast are probably playing). The movie doesn’t tie itself into knots explaining why girls get to have this adventure, they just get to do it and we get to know them enough that we enjoy rooting for them. B+
Rated PG-13 for some supernatural action and crude humor. Directed by Paul Feig with a screenplay by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig, Ghostbusters is an hour and 56 minutes long and distributed by Columbia Pictures. 

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