Ghostbusters – Answer the Call

300-ghostbustersFAMILY NIGHT AT THE MOVIE | By Christopher Hill –

The year 1984 was a magical time. The Los Angeles Olympics were a spectacular hit. ColecoVision was the hot new video game system, and Ray Parker created a pop song that became a cultural phenomenon. The jingle also had the advantage of being the theme song for one of the hottest movies of that summer – and a seminal motion picture for the Gen Xers among us – Ghostbusters.

The movie spawned a lot of toy sales, cartoons and a sequel that did well, but not well enough to warrant a return. It took 27 years for another full-featured reoccurrence of the franchise. This time around, testosterone was replaced with far more estrogen than anyone anticipated. In August 2014, it was announced that Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy) was set to direct an all-female reboot of Ghostbusters. The collective zeitgeist of the male-dominated Internet commentators union lost its collective mind. “Sacrilege,” they swore, and they attacked the premise unmercifully.

These attacks seemed counter to the trend lines permeating our society. Women, with increasing regularity, are shattering traditional gender roles. One of the sole holdouts has been at the box office. The Annenberg Center at the University of Southern California (USC) released a report showcasing that of the 700 top-grossing movies released between 2007 and 2014, only 30 percent had speaking parts for women – a surprising discovery. However, even that traditional bias is changing. Based on the trend lines, the time for an all-female reboot seems about right. But is it?

The cast contains some of the top comedians available. Feig has raided his own past, recruiting Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, Spy), as well as Saturday Night Live residents and alumnae Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. It is an ensemble of some of the funniest women on the planet – let down by uneven writing and form over substance.

Patty (Leslie Jones), Abby (Melissa McCarthy), Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Jillian (Kate McKinnon) are your new Ghostbusters.

Patty (Leslie Jones), Abby (Melissa McCarthy), Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Jillian (Kate McKinnon) are your new Ghostbusters. Photos courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

It’s not that there are no funny parts in the movie. It has several good one-liners, and nearly everyone has comedic moments. However, those moments come at the expense of consistency and uniqueness. The comparisons to the original Ghostbusters will be nauseating in their volume alone, but I will focus on only one. Each original Ghostbuster was unique with a distinctive personality. The new Ghostbusters are far more similar than not, so much so that by making them so interchangeable, viewers miss out on some of what made the original special.

Leslie Jones epitomizes what could have been. She steals scenes throughout Ghostbusters, but in between these moments, her character is a one-dimensional, tall, angry woman. She is in danger of being typecast, which is unfortunate, because her skills are far greater than just being the loudest woman in the room. She has the best chance to become the most irreplaceable character. Instead, she becomes the most clichéd.

One of the interesting parts of the film is the role-reversal on the stereotypical role of secretary. Hollywood has a dark history of objectifying women, and now Chris Hemsworth (Thor) gets the treatment. Like the rest of the film, this handling is somewhat uneven, but it hits close enough to be uncomfortable.

The original film’s premise was uncharted and so far beyond the norm that it stood out, but the latest remake doesn’t have the same opportunity to be mysterious. The premise is known. In fact, in many respects, this is less of a reboot and more of a beat-by-beat recreation of the original, just with better special effects. For fans of the original installments, nearly the entire original main cast makes an appearance in this new film. Each cameo is enjoyable to watch and had me wishing for a continuation with the new Ghostbusters instead of a do-over.

Ghostbusters is not a bad movie. Despite a dull final act, the jokes are constant and varied. So, fans of various comedic styles will find their moments, but these are just appetizers. The full meal never comes, and throughout the film, I hungered for sharper dialogue and more unique characters. The performances by the new Ghostbusters are all solid, but the writing failed to provide them with enough support to develop a classic. Unfortunately, moviegoers will be more likely to call another film before they call Ghostbusters.


  • Now Showing: In Local Theaters
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Violence: Action based; be warned some of the ghosts could scare younger viewers.
  • Language: Minor
  • Sexuality: Some sophomoric suggestive humor