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Monday, July 18, 2016

Ghostbusterettes

Ivan Reitman’s 1984 supernatural comedy ‘Ghostbusters’ gets a shot of estrogen in actor/director Paul Feig’s 2016 reboot.  Paul Feig (‘Bridesmaids,’ ‘Heat’ and ‘Spy’) is best known for collaborating with A-list comedic actress Melissa McCarthy, who’s one of the four Ghostbusters in this update, but did you know that he also created the short-lived coming-of-age cult comedy series ‘Freaks and Geeks’ produced by Judd Apatow?  Didn't think so.  Bringing back ‘Ghostbusters’ is no mean feat for the director, because he has to walk a fine line between attracting a new generation of viewers while not straying too far from the original and alienating fans of the 1984 classic.
 
Like the ‘Ghostbusters’ of auld with Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, the  new ‘Ghostbusters’ leans heavily on SNL with ¾ of its team comprised of current or recent SNL cast members in Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, with the fourth being McCarthy who’s hosted SNL quite a few times.  Even more than the original, the all-female Ghostbusters are nerdy science types who would fit right in on ‘Big Bang Theory’; Wiig as a straight-laced and socially awkward physics professor, McCarthy as a PhD outcast weird science paranormal investigator, and McKinnon’s Dr. Jillian Holtzmann is a tomboyish and gay mad engineer whose madcap experiments would give Christopher Lloyd’s Dr. Emmet Brown a decent run for his money.  The lone holdout of the geek club is Leslie Jones’s Patty, who makes up for her lack of science smarts with her street smarts and like-the-back-of-her-hand knowledge of NYC.  Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth (‘Thor’) proves that he has comedic chops as the Ghostbuster’s hunky male receptionist/secretary Kevin, who’s kept on for his looks despite being dumb as a bag of hammers in a classic example of gender role reversal.
 
‘Ghostbusters 2016’ is a fun if somewhat familiar exercise in 1980’s nostalgia.  Paying homage and staying true to the spirit of the original, the film is a respectful reboot and featured cameos from the original cast including Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson (sadly, Harold Ramis passed away in 2014) and Slimer the ectoplasm-spewing ghost.  The four female leads were all game and did justice to the Ghostbusters franchise, demonstrating that they can walk the walk as well as talk the pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo. 

Grade: B+
 
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