Director Paul Fieg and Company are not the Ruiners of Your Childhood. Your youthful “Ghostbusters” memories are alive and well, in your head, in your DVD drawer or digital download file folder. Ghostbros, upset their 1984 favourite is being rebooted with an all female cast, flooded the internet with low-to-no star reviews. As it turns out, the time they spent trying to torpedo a movie they had not yet seen, might have been better spent making room on their basement shelves for the new “Ghostbusters” figurines. Feig hasn’t desecrated a classic, he has added a new chapter, creating a light and fluffy concoction that moves the franchise into the future while paying homage to the past.
When we first meet Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) she’s a professor at Columbia trying to hide her past as a paranormal investigator. When a ghost-hunting book she co-wrote with Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) comes to light she is let go. Like Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler before her, she leaves academia and becomes a professional New York City ghostbuster alongside Abby, proton pack engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and former subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones).
After making a name for themselves they uncover a major plot hatched by hotel janitor Rowan North (Neil Casey). Upset his genius has been ignored by the world, he plans on unleashing an army of undead to come back and “pester the world” in an event he calls the Fourth Cataclysm. He has created a vortex that will allow whatever it is on that plane to come crashing down on this plane and flood New York City with ghosts. By the climax the movie dissolves into regular summertime C.G.I. tomfoolery as the Ghostbusters battle spirits in Times Square.
There is a sense of déjà vu hanging heavy over “Ghostbusters.” The new film doesn’t continue the original story, it reboots it, taking us back to the origins of the group. In other words, it’s a lot like the 1984 movie. From class four semi-anchored entities and proton streams to cameos from Slimer, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Annie “Ghostbusters, whaddaya want?” Potts plus a glimpse of a Harold Ramis statue, the movie feels familiar but has been freshened up.
The cast doesn’t try to imitate Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis and Hudson. The new characters are just that, new creations plunked down into an existing world.
McCarthy and Wiig, reteamed for the first time since “Bridesmaids,” are solid and Jones is a formidable presence but most interesting is McKinnon as engineering nerd Holtzmann. She is unapologetically weird, as strange as her unruly asymmetrical haircut and a glorious addition to the “Ghostbusters” family.
Also welcome is Chris Hemsworth as the dippy receptionist who doesn’t have glass in his eyeglasses and says things like, “An aquarium is a submarine for fish.” He’s a walking non sequitur and very funny.
Like the old Abbott and Costello horror comedies, “Ghostbusters” doesn’t have any real scares but it will make you laugh. The script, co-written by Feig and “Parks and Recreation” writer Katie Dippold, is funny, if not exactly in a slap the knee kind of way, then in a slow boil constant giggle respect. Is it an out-of-this-world hit like Feig’s “Bridesmaids” or “Spy”? No. It occasionally suffers from a weird rhythm where scenes end suddenly and at least one of the cameos feels wedged in, but the overall effect is one of a respectful resurrection of a beloved franchise.
Best of all, it is self-aware. Reading on-line comments Erin comes across one that reads, “Ain’t no bitches going to hunt no ghosts.” Later Abby says, “Don’t read what crazy people write in the middle of the night online.” Are you listening Ghostbros?