For those who like slapstick comedy, sitcoms, and special effects, this movie will be a blast (literally). It’s very much in the style of most of the Melissa McCarthy films, where she is outrageous but smart. As Abby, she has three side-kicks here, one a legitimate scientist (Wiig as physicist Erin), one a female scientist-nerd (McKinnon as Jillion), and one a New York street-wise woman with practical connections and a vast knowledge of New York’s history (Jones as Patty). At first, Erin is put off by Abby’s promotion of their co-authored book on parapsychology and ghosts from some years back, until….sightings of ghosts are reported throughout the city. And when she witnesses a graphic ghost appearance, she is on board. Unfortunately, she is fired from her university job for even being associated with such an endeavor. Nevertheless, she goes on to form part of a team of ghostbusters who will be discredited but remain committed and valiant.
Ghostbusters is remarkable for a number of assets that are impressive, particularly the casting and the special and visual effects. Cinematography (Robert D. Yeoman) is likewise noteworthy. McCarthy and Wiig have demonstrated their talent in numerous productions (Wiig: Bridesmaids, The Skeleton Twins, Saturday Night Live; McCarthy: Bridesmaids, Spy, St. Vincent), but McKinnon, new to moviedom, steals the show in her portrayal of a character not seen in most of movieland—a female nerd who is an expert in firearms. She doesn’t just shoot them; she creates them. McKinnon’s characterization of this odd, entertaining inventor is a rare treat, especially since, for all its female empowerment, this Ghostbusters pulls out all the tired female stereotypes we’ve seen in countless films: Girlie shrieks and jumping up and down after a success, yammering and arguing over trivia, complete melt-down and foolishness at the sight of a handsome man, and on and on. I’m disappointed in these actresses for this, as well as the writer Katie Dippold and director, Paul Feig, whom I thought previously was a champion of women.
In their defense, the Hemsworth character, Kevin, who is supposed to be the receptionist for the ghostbuster group, goes against the actor’s normally heroic persona to one who is rather dim and narcissistic. He doesn’t know how to answer the phone or respond logically to questions, and is completely preoccupied with his own interests. He, the mayor (Andy Garcia), and other males don’t come off much better than the females. Maybe female/male stereotypes were meant to be part of the jokes of the film.
Other casting strengths include the number of the previous Ghostbuster actors (Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Akroyd, and Annie Potts) as well as cameo appearances of notables like Ed Begley, Jr., Charles Dance, Michael Kenneth Williams, Andy Garcia, and Al Roker. These, as well as references to a host of other films add a special element of fun.
A surprising thriller teeming with goofiness.