Review: Ghostbusters, don't be afraid to watch it

Fri. July 15, 2016 1:12 PM by Gregg Shapiro

First the bad news; the Ghostbusters (Columbia/Sony) remake is too damn long. The sequence near the end, in which the vortex is opened and countless ghosts terrorize the city and its denizens, feels especially and unnecessarily endless.

But wait, the good news outweighs the bad. Ghostbusters has more laughs per minute than just about any other comedy released in 2016. An occasionally touching buddy movie with a strong emphasis on female friendship (sisterhood is powerful!), it also features a male character so hot the screen almost melts each time he appears. He is even referred to as "beefcake" – and this is said by another male character!

Childhood friends Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Abby (Melissa McCarthy) haven't spoken in years. After writing a book together about that their firmly held belief in ghosts they went their separate ways. Erin considers herself a serious academic on a tenure track, teaching at a prestigious university, and wants nothing to do with ghouls. Abby, on the other hand, runs a lab at a less esteemed school, and continues ghost-hunting. She's also still selling the book they co-authored online and elsewhere.

A series of funny events suddenly Sidetrack Erin's academic career, reuniting her with Abby and, by extension, Abby's assistant Holtzmann (out comic actress Kate McKinnon who practically steals the show). After encountering one ghost, the women realize that they are onto something. Shortly thereafter they meet Patty (Leslie Jones), an MTA tollbooth employee, who not only leads them to a ghost living in a subway tunnel but can also identify Rowan (Neil Casey), the man responsible for unleashing the banshee onslaught. Rowan, a hotel bellhop on a revenge streak for years of mistreatment, has devised a piece of equipment to summon surly spirits and plans to unleash them on New York and the world.

Before you know it, Patty has joined Erin, Abby and Holtzmann. Bumbling but beautiful receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) completes the team. Slime is plentiful, as are ghost-busting devices. Of course, in post-9/11 New York, Homeland Security and an incompetent mayor (Andy Garcia) get involved. There's a converted, souped up hearse (instead of an ambulance) to transport the women. Original Ghostbuster cameos abound including Annie Potts (hotel desk clerk), Dan Aykroyd (cab driver), Ernie Hudson (funeral director) and the late Harold Ramis (represented by a bust), among others. Only Bill Murray, as debunker Martin Heiss, has any significant on-screen time. 

All in all, as summertime movie entertainment goes, the reboot of Ghostbusters (you know it's the first of many!) hits almost all of the right buttons. Don't be afraid to watch it.

Related: Screen Savor movie reviews by Gregg Shapiro