There is a disconnect between two worlds: not between this life and the next, but seemingly between critics and fans. Look at films like Batman v. Superman and Warcraft, two of this year’s bigger releases. According to Rotten Tomatoes, for the DC film 27% of critics enjoyed the film while 65% of the audience liked it; for the Blizzard one, only 29% of critics like it, while 78% of the fans did. This might not seem so strange. Most films tend to score higher with audiences than with critics on Rotten Tomatoes, because it can be argued that critics’ standards are higher. But what about the case where the opposite is true, where critiques (73% of them) like a film more than the audience (with their approval only coming in at 57%)? Such is the case with Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters, a rehash of the 1980s hit of the same name. Let’s find out why.
Plot: Ghosts take over New York… Again
Like the original film, this one follows a group of scientists and friends who attempt to prove to the world the existence of the supernatural. The twist? What was previously an all-male ghost-busting team, is now all-female. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a serious physicist from a prestigious university working towards tenure. When a strange man reports odd happenings in an old house museum, Erin becomes embroiled in the ghost hunting escapades of her former research partner Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). The apparitions are part of nefarious plots, masterminded by a loony nerd (Neil Casey) who dreams of bringing an apocalypse down right in the center of New York City. After Erin is fired from her teaching job, the women set up a new ghost busting firm with the help of technological expert Jillian Holzman (Kate McKinnon) and former subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), as well as their new hunky receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth).
Comic Talent Lights Up Our Proton Packs
Upon hearing that Feig had cast Wiig, McKinnon, and Jones, the fan boy in me inwardly cackled for joy. I was thrilled that a franchise I love (I never missed the Friday night broadcast of the cartoon series when it showed originally) had hired so many quality comedic actors. Wiig, McKinnon and Jones have made me laugh more than anyone else on TV in recent years, with their brilliant stints on Saturday Night Live (McKinnon and Jones are still on the show and are the funniest people on it). I was not let down by the gags. It is a mixed bag, representative of the different comedy stylings of the stars.
A Different Kind of Funny
The original’s comedy was often derived from horror tropes, which the current film cares much less about. However, the comedy is different because the comedians are different. While the original had its fair degree of slapstick, it also had its subtler and more droll moments brought to us by Bill Murray. Instead, here we get a lot of Wigg’s kookiness, McKinnon’s wackiness, and Jones’s underdog charm. Since I am a fan of all the actors, original and new, I enjoyed the change of tone as bringing something different, while missing what used to be there at the same time.
A Mirthful Kind of Reverence
Feig’s Ghostbusters is reverential to the first film, borrowing some of its imagery and plot points, but much less so than, say, the recent Star Wars film. This feels like a real rebirth as opposed to a remake, keeping a lot of the genetics of the first film but with a personality of its own. When you look at the problems the audience seemingly had with the film, it is interesting to read this analysis about its low IMDB score. Before the film was released, it had a flood of one star ratings primarily from men (especially 30-44 year old men), many of whom who could not possibly have seen the film as it was not out at the time of their reviews. Read that information how you like, but as someone from that demographic who has seen the film, I found it a very funny romp with lots of love for the Ghostbusters’ universe. While the original was a product of the 80s, it does not mean the fans’ mindsets need to be stuck there. I hope a sequel comes out soon, as comedies that make me laugh seem to be getting rarer. Even if the screams aren’t there, the chuckles more than makes up for it, and to get the full laughs, please STAY TILL THE END OF THE CREDITS!