Trigger warning: This review will probably hurt your feelings if trigger warnings are a serious thing to you.
The first Ghostbusters is a comedy classic, the second, kind of. The third one has been kicked around for about 30 years and sad to say, this is a cheap cash in and nothing else. Full disclosure, I saw the film in theaters once and last week I bought the extended Blu Ray because I want to support the brand. I want Ghostbusters to live on, but I don't think it's going in the right direction. Let's hope it's a phase.
If you've been under a rock the past year, congratulations, you've avoided hearing about the biggest disaster in culture and media of 2016 next to the Trump presidential race. We'll sum it up as briefly as possible: Sony reboots Ghostbusters, recruits an all female cast, plays up the misogyny victim card using YouTube comments as ineffable proof, and watches their movie tank as whiny "critics" (see: justice warriors posting reviews on their tumblrs) cry about the big evil patriarchy being to blame for its failure.
Why open the review with all this bumbling about the insufferable PC culture we face today? Because Sony seems to have made an executive decision to run with it and it detonated in their faces like a big ol' marshmallow man. Rather than trying to tone it down as to maintain a larger audience interested in the movie, they decided the divisive armies of buttery justice warriors had the right idea and went full "womyn are funny, deal with it, fuccboi".
There are two glaring problems for me with this film, the villain and the character development. However, I was considering leaving character development out of my critique since it actually needs to be there for it be critiqued, right?
We're introduced to the four new Ghostbusters right away who end up amounting to little more than cardboard cutouts of stereotypical "whacky female" character types.
First we have Kristen Wiig, the quirky one! What's criminal is she is the only character with a slight whiff of backstory and even becomes interesting for a few moments as the movie starts to hint at her story then like Alzheimer's patient on roller blades, skates off into the street and is never heard from again. Because it leads to nothing, it's a totally pointless scene that does more to tease you than satisfy you. Not to mention, every single one of her comedic lines is exactly the same and follows the 'awkward passive comment' formula that plagues Hollywood these days. After one line, you can predict everything else she says.
Then, Melissa McCarthy, the quirky one! She's also got a subplot about takeout. Yep. Not much to report here either, she's a scientist like Kristen Wiig with a slight whiff of backstory (much less than Wiig, if that's even possible) and ... honestly, nothing else.
Then, Kate McKinnon, the quirky one! She's also slightly insane and the only character that got me to laugh and that's mainly due to how unpredictable she was. The whole "should probably be in a mental asylum" character has been done to death but she's actually enjoyable. She clearly loves her work but again, she has absolutely ZERO character development and the movie's producers are probably hoping you'll just take the humor and not ask anymore questions.
And lastly, everyone's new favorite racist, Leslie Jones ... the loud one? On my second viewing, I actually felt far more interested in her than on my first viewing. She's a smart character who doesn't "know the streets" like the atrocious trailer suggests, she's actually well read and knows New York because of how much she reads. It's worth noting that the three white characters are accomplished scientists and Patty? Well, she has jewelry with her name on it. Yay? People pointed out this obvious racism but surprisingly, the justice warrior community got incredibly salty about the controversy. Not sure why seeing as it's right up their alley. Probably because they didn't get to complain about it first thus, it's invalid. Some kind of mental gymnastics like that I bet.
However, all of these character problems could be ignored if there wasn't a massive, suffocating cancer at the core of this movie and that's the villain. I certainly believe that a great villain can elevate a mediocre hero and it was sorely needed. We'll play a game, I'll give you three characters. Two are fake and one is the villain of the movie, see if you can guess.
1. A fat disgruntled priest who wants to bathe the world in darkness because he hates god
2. An angsty janitor who was bullied as a kid and builds an apocalypse device in the basement of a hotel
3. A hipster dog-walker possessed by a ghost trying to revive an old god
If you guessed 1 or 3, you've successfully picked a better villain than Paul Fieg did.
That's right, the Ghostbusters' biggest challenge is not an imaginary army of angry little boys on YouTube, it's a hotel janitor whose only apparent motivation is that he hates the world. Yes, that greasy little hot topic nerd who sat by himself in the cafeteria eating mayonnaise sandwiches is trying to tear open a portal to "the spirit world" because DESPITE ALL HIS RAGE HE IS STILL JUST A NERD IN A CAGE.
The following are things you will not be told: How he is able to build complex machinery, how he is able to live in the hotel basement and build said massive machine (because who checks their electric bill, right?), how he knew his plan was going to work, how he lugged around these box sized machines and placed them in random places without being seen, and how he is able to (spoiler) become a super powerful ghost lord at the end.
Overall, the movie suffers from its flatness. Nothing is explained, everything is rushed, and humor is frequent but stale. It has the unfortunate stank of a cash grab which is exactly what Sony seems to have wanted.
I really hope we get an honest effort should they try again but after a projected eighty million dollar loss, it doesn't seem likely.
Rent it, maybe you'll like it. But I'd hold off on a purchase.