Ghostbusters (2016)

Cert: 12A

Runtime: 156 mins

Director: Paul Feig

Cast:  Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Chris Hemsworth, Neil Casey, Andy Garcia

Rating: ***

If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call?  Well until now it was Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, not now, as we have the reboot of the 1984 classic with 4 woman in the leading roles.

Despite the foreboding, this is a thoroughly enjoyable popcorn movie directed by Paul Feig whose finest work so far is Bridesmaids. Feig is reunited with Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy for Ghostbusters and they help inject some nice moments of humour, though without achieving the heights of Bridesmaids.

The plot is very limited, but opens with some pretty sharp dialogue and snappy one liners as Erin Gilbert (Wiig’s university professor character) is on the verge of intellectual recognition in the field of particle physics. However, she is forced to find her old friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), with whom she co-edited a book about ghosts, which is proving an embarrassment to Erin and ultimately results in her loosing her teaching career. The comedy continues as one would expect and the two are drawn into a haunted mansion where they confront a spectre and Erin’s past passion for ghosts and ghouls is re-ignited.

From this moment on its pretty much as one would expect with a variety of phantoms, powerful proton packs, and an updated Ghostbusters vehicle, as well as the familiar appearance of a gorging Slimer and huge Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

The Ghostbusting foursome is completed by Leslie Jones as Patty Tolan, a subway employee with attitude and Kate Mckinnon’s Jillian Holtzman, a zany inventor that creates all of the new gadgets on show. Both Jones and McKinnon probably produce more laughs with their characters and the latter almost steals the show. In a quirky piece of casting, the team is completed by hunky Chris Hemsworth as their receptionist, a total role reversal from his Thor movies, as he proves totally incompetent other than providing a very interesting distraction especially for Erin.

Despite the movie being an updated reboot of the 1984 Ghostbusters, it still has a very retro feel to it including an Exorcist head-spin and a series of 80’s one liners.  This includes the team dancing to Rhythm of the Night sung by Debarge not “Devo”; a one liner that will be hard for a younger audience to pick up. Along with these there are appearances from stars of the original (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver), plus a nod to the late Harold Ramis in the form of a bronze  bust outside Erin's university office at the beginning of the film.

The movie climaxes in Times Square, although a lack of back story about the chief villain, Rowan North (Neil Casey), does leave it somewhat short of a reason as to his motives.

However, despite the slight clumsiness of the comedy set against the action sequences this is an enjoyable movie and far from the disaster that was being predicted. It's also worth watching right through to the end of the credits, even if everyone else there a nod to a sequel right at the very end?

Written by Howard Groves.

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