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Stuck in the ‘80s review: ‘Ghostbusters’ dead on arrival

18

July

The final two words of the new Ghostbusters - before the ending credits, which last nearly as long as the movie itself - sum up this reboot in two words: “Not terrible.”

You could also more harshly toe-tag it with these two words: “Not funny.”

And there lies the problems of this otherwise more-noble-than-expected effort. Take a director fresh off so many box office victories (Paul Feig) and team him up with four of the funniest comedy actors working today - no matter the gender - and … AND … you sprinkle the film with a supporting cast hand-picked from the funniest shows on TV and what do we have?

A corpse.

Put aside any allegiance we ’80s fans have to the original 1984 movie. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones deserved better material. At an 11 a.m. showing Saturday in Winter Park, Fla., the theater held possibly 12 audience members at most. From what I could tell, only one was laughing out loud. At what, I have no idea.

The plot of the new Ghostbusters movie largely mimics the original Bill Murray/Harold Ramis/Dan Aykroyd flick. Three scientists (Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon) find themselves fired from cushy university jobs and decide to chase the paranormal for a living. Eventually teaming up with a subway worker (Jones) who knows the lore of the city, the foursome take on both ghosts and a skeptical city government (led by Andy Garcia as the mayor).

There are several sweet nods to the original movie, including bits on the firehouse headquarters and the inspiration behind the team’s iconic logo), but for me the smiles ended there.

A supporting cast of comedy heroes - Zach Woods, Ed Begley Jr., Karan Soni, Steve Higgins, Chris Hemsworth, Matt Walsh to name just a few - manage to muster a giggle or two here and there, but I’m left to assume they must have been improvising their scenes.

Likewise if you were counting on the cameos from the original cast of Ghostbusters to help out, you’ll be gob-smacked to see how disappointing those scenes are. Billy Murray is deader than the ghouls playing a celebrity hoax buster. Aykroyd underwhelms in a seconds—long bit as a cabbie. Ernie Hudson scores a laugh when we learn his role in the plot. Only a tender, nearly missed moment when we catch a glimpse of the late Harold Ramis does the arrow hit its target.

I’m disappointed in the celebrities who have tried to turn criticism of Ghostbusters into gender politics. Ghostbusters’ failure is not about the ladies, it’s about the lack of laughs.

If this remake of Ghostbusters is truly the best that Hollywood can offer, then finally we all have something to be truly afraid of.

[Last modified: Monday, July 18, 2016 10:30am]

    

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