The 1980’s marked a time of real innovative and original films that stand the test of time. One of these classics include the 1984 comedy horror hybrid, Ghostbusters. An idea concocted by the mind of Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis that has captured the imagination of young and old alike. In 1989, Ghostbusters II, while not considered a classic like its predecessor, was a jovial revisit of classic characters and utter silliness involving free floating vaporous apparitions and lots of slime. Fans of this movie series have been begging for a sequel for quite some time. They’ve been waiting to see the Ghostbusting boys back in their jumpsuits. After much haggling over scripts, what actors will be involved, and one original cast member passing away; the job has been passed to the talented Paul Feig. Feig, the director of the very funny Bridesmaids and Spy has answered the call and has co-written and directed an all-female re-imagining of the Ghostbusters movie. Prior to its release, there has been much negative backlash and calls of supposed misogyny by the PC crowd of what has been seen in trailers and commercials. Now that the film has been released to theaters, the public can judge for themselves if this Ghostbusters crew can evoke the same feeling of joyous comedy they can all get behind.

Being a longtime lover of both films, I was one of those fans that was leery about the change of direction of the new film that was seen in the trailers. The problem with the trailers wasn’t the all female team, but what was seen from the chemistry and the comedic timing of the four leads. I was hopeful that maybe the trailers were edited awkwardly, but the movie itself might prove to be an enjoyable experience. Now that I’ve seen the film, I can report, not only were my reservations about it been confirmed, but it was much more dour than even I expected.

The Ghostbusters of this new film see talented and funny ladies; Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones take the helm from our original team. The story revolves around these ladies coming together in the midst of a paranormal event that could see a vortex open in the city of New York that would bring a massive influx of otherworldly apparitions wreaking havoc upon their city.

This is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the worst films of the Summer and of 2016. The problem with the film are not the ladies of the piece, but the piece itself. This movie is so poorly written and the story so undercooked that as an audience member you find no one you like therefore no one to cheer on. The ladies are given such terrible sophomoric dialogue and movie plot mumbo jumbo that it equates to the lowest common denominator of humor. Low brow is what rules the day here, PG-13 low brow, but low brow none the less. The original film from 1984 seems sophisticated compared to this. The ladies become oddly stiff figures instead of actual characters with a soul. No camaraderie exists with the ladies, therefore no connections to characters are made with the audience. Chris Hemsworth does his level best to playing the dimwitted secretary to these ladies and not even he can pull off any laughs. He’s irritating at best and he playing someone this stupid just causes frustration and anger for the audience. Kate McKinnon’s role here has been lauded as breakout. It’s far from that. Her character is odd just to be odd. It doesn’t work and annoys more than anything else. I won’t even spend time on the villain and why he’s involved with opening the portal of spirits because the film doesn’t. Just know his motivation is unclear and he feels like a macguffin. Chemistry is what is missing from all aspects of this film. Nothing is cohesive.

The ladies never feel like a team, the villain never makes clear his motivation, the ghosts feel like snazzy window dressing nowhere near as clever as “The Gatekeeper” and “The Keymaster.” What really is a slap in the face to the legacy of the Ghostbusters are the cameos from the original cast. I would have rather them not be in this film than work with the awful dreck they were given here. By the time the haunted, ghost filled finale comes along, I tapped out and just wanted it to be over.

Ghostbusters of 2016 should be ashamed of what they put on screen for all to see. Our heroes are just stereotypical caricatures of what could’ve been likable characters. The story is nothing more than an attempt at throwing ideas at the screen and seeing what sticks, no love or knowledge of what made the original a classic. The saddest part of it all was I never chuckled, gaffaw, snickered nor laughed once. Ghostbusters of 2016 is without substance and transparent, even more so than the ghosts that fill the screen.

One Star

originally published in  MAUIWatch