The first things you probably want to know are: Is it as good as the original? Is it funny?
No, and yes.
I wanted to be fair to this version and not compare it to the 1984 movie, but people kept asking me that first question so I figured I’d get it out of the way. The version starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson is so beloved that it’s hard to beat. Even its 1989 sequel, with much of the original talent returning, couldn’t live up to it.
The reboot’s story is roughly the same as the original: three scientists who believe in the paranormal get fired from their jobs and must strike out on their own, eventually calling themselves Ghostbusters. Along the way, they’re joined by a fourth member to save New York City from an infestation of ghosts.
The leading cast is very talented, too: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. I don’t think the script, cowritten by Katie Dippold and director Paul Feig, supports them well enough, though it does give them some funny lines—unless they were improvised.
Some of the comedic bits go on too long, but McKinnon’s Holtzmann is a welcome kind of weird; McCarthy’s and Jones’s Abby and Patty, respectively, are reliably sassy; and Wiig proves she can still be funny as the straight person of the group, the “serious” scientist. It’s nice to see the power of female friendship onscreen, smart women working together to accomplish great things. They own their misfitness.
Standouts in the supporting cast include Karan Soni as a droll Chinese restaurant delivery boy, and Zach Woods as a tour guide who sees ghosts.
Not as successful is Chris Hemsworth as the Ghostbusters’ dim-witted and clumsy receptionist. Hemsworth can be funny (see: Vacation remake), but here he’s trying too hard. It’s like he’s asking for the laugh instead of simply being the character.
The actress who played the original receptionist, Annie Potts, shows up as…a receptionist. Look also for appearances by Murray, Aykroyd, Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver. The late Ramis appears, too, in a way. Half the fun is keeping your eyes peeled for original cast members, who drop in long enough to give a touch of nostalgia but not long enough to distract from the current cast. Oh, and stay for the tag after all the credits.
So, if you’re looking for some diverting entertainment, who you gonna call?
Nerd verdict: Doesn’t bust new ground, but good for some laughs