Review: ‘Ghostbusters’ 2016 (answer the call, Kevin)

Wonderfully reimagined escapism — fun for fans new and old.

On the eve of receiving tenure at a prestigious school, physicist Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) discovers an old book she co-wrote is selling on Amazon; self-published by her former friend and co-author Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), the contents could jeapordize her career. In the time since Erin and her parted ways, Abby and her co-worker Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) have continued work into paranormal investigation — including cooking up a few homemade gadgets — but after an investigative opportunity provides their first actual recorded proof of ghosts, the three scientists are set on a path to work together. Enter Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), a city transit worker and NYC history buff who’s also had a recent ghostly encounter, but something else found in the subway tunnels suggests to the team that the sudden appearance of so many ghosts may not be a natural phenomenon.

It’s finally here: the thing that will ruin the happy memories and childhoods of anyone who remembers the 1984 hit Ghostbusters…or so we’ve been told. The truth is far simpler; the Ghostbusters intellectual property is valuable, so a new movie was eventually going to be made. No one wanted a repeat of the lackluster Ghostbusters II (especially Bill Murray), but neither the cast nor a script could be counted upon. With the passing of Harold Ramis, there was no chance of getting the old gang back together, so new directors were tapped to come up with fresh ideas. It wasn’t until director Paul Feig pitched an all-female team rebooting the entire franchise that the project moved forward, paving the way for what may end up being a lucrative summer blockbuster.

The best compliment that can be paid to the 2016 version is that it feels like a Ghostbusters movie: lethal ghosts, dangerous equipment, and quirky personalities generating comedy to relieve dire moments…something the 1989 sequel struggled to do. Scary moments are scary, even when mixed with the situational humor; Feig seems to understand this dynamic and uses it to the film’s benefit. The reworking also includes clever nods to the original film (ruining nothing for those unfamiliar with it) such as the origin of the no-ghost logo, building up the equipment so that each encounter is a chance to upgrade for the next, and someone finally addressing the U.S. government’s official position on the phenomenon of paranormal activity (of COURSE there’s a conspiracy).

So, nitpicks — the film’s not perfect. While Chris Hemsworth’s model-worthy receptionist Kevin is played off as an idiot, it can be argued that he’s preoccupied and wholly distracted with himself (as indicated by being oblivious to Erin’s borderline obsession), but even as a comedic opportunity for the actor, is it really intended as a feminist statement that “men are useless and stupid?” Also being honest, the idea of a “laser lasso” to catch ghosts is inherently absurd, so it isn’t surprising that Feig’s version ups the ante by creating more weapons based around the concept and making for some fun visuals in the epic climactic battle — some far sillier than others. There’s also the case for Peter Jackson Syndrome — one-upping the previous version (re: King Kong) by doing the same thing even bigger — and the original Boys in Gray never had so many ghosts to battle or ones that were specifically targeting them (and TWO Slimers for the price of one!) Overkill? Perhaps, but in context, it can be overlooked; if you want to appear more heroic, you need a lot more villainy.

With access to top-notch CGI effects, the new Ghostbusters may not look as practical as the original film, but quite a few of the ghost effects were real actors enhanced by costuming and CG rather than pure effects to give them a more realistic look. Standouts in the cast include Kate McKinnon’s Jillian, stealing every scene she’s in unless Hemsworth is there, but everyone has a part to play with more than a few surprising reveals in their backgrounds seeded through the story. The movie is a family friendly PG-13, mostly due to spooky elements and “zap-gun” violence (you can’t make this stuff up, folks). While the haters have already made up their minds that this reboot is somehow offensive to them and a sucker punch to the gut, the open-minded wanting more Ghostbusters and willing to take a chance on an exemplary cast having fun twisting around an existing concept will be rewarded. Stay throughout the credits to catch all the Easter eggs and to the very end for a hint at what a sequel could be about if the film is a success.

ADDITIONAL INFO: after an additional viewing, the movie is more entertaining in 3D, taking full advantage of the technology.

(a three and a half skull recommendation out of four)


  1. You liked it! Yay!

    Your review is a bit of a relief, tbh. I want this movie to be rip-roaringly funny, and not just to silence the naysayers, but because I love the franchise. Also…ghosts. The cast is a dream team of comedy.

    About Chris Hemsworth’s character…I found the idea of a bubble-headed secretary who is male hilarious…as a satirical statement on the way women are often portrayed as sex kittens in film. And that is their only purpose–to titillate the menfolk. Hemsworth is like the male version of Marilyn Monroe. Re-imagine this: The Seven Year [Jock] Itch, or Some [Women] Like It Hot. hehe

    You know I’m a feminist. The movement does not think men are useless or stupid. Sheesh. hehe We like and respect men, dude!

    But I digress. hehe I am so pumped to see this now.


  2. Rotten Maters (my name for the site) has given it a 75% which is respectable except the negative reviews are REALLY VERY negative.

    I don’t mind an all female cast (though I think a mix would be more interesting) just like I didn’t mind when BSG changed some roles to be females. Who cares?

    But it has to be a funny movie. No one wants to see a crappy movie just because it is an all-female cast. And to remake Ghostbusters is sort of sacrilege. It’s like remaking Star Trek (which in all honesty sucked for me). The bar is set very very high.

    I don’t know these actresses very well. I saw “Spy” and McCarthy was very good in it. Not only funny but she appears to be a natural actress. The reviews I read claims she is pretty weak in this movie and the reviewers lament this fact as they all seem to agree she is quite good in other movies.

    Reading the reviews and reading the spoilers has me deciding to just wait until Amazon/Vudu streams it. It isn’t looking that good to go out and watch it.

    On the other hand, I have real urge to go home and watch the original Ghostbusters tonight.


    • If you enjoyed Spy, you’ll enjoy this. The key thing is, this DOES feel like a Ghostbusters movie. It’s funny from the first scene, but it’s also scary and very rarely silly (pretty much like the original film). But if you’re going by the trailers, DON’T. Many for the bad lines and senseless takes have been replaced by better dialogue and improved takes in the final edit.

      I’ll add this: I’ve seen exactly two movies in 2016 that I wanted to go right back into the cinema and watch again. The first was Deadpool (which I now own) and this Ghostbusters is the second; it exceeded my expectations, and I’m pretty tough on horror/scary stuff if you’ve read many of my reviews.

      But hey, you can’t go wrong revisiting 1984. Say howdy to the Boys in Gray for me!


      • Deadpool was a surprise for me. It was cheesy and quite frankly Ryan Reynolds isn’t probably the best one to have chosen but for some reason I still liked it… a lot. Also what other actor can self-criticize himself AND star in his own Honest Trailer video?

        Ok well maybe I will go see Ghostbusters. I’ll hold off watching the original because I don’t want to bias myself against this one. I still dislike the new Star Treks, especially the last.

        The reboots and remakes are making me suspect that all the talented writers have moved out of the country.


      • I did think the second Star Trek movie was overkill, especially the whole Khan/notKhan thing, but the new film looked pretty good in the newest trailer with that Rhianna “Sledgehammer” song; if you haven’t seen that video, watch it. The first trailers for this newest ST film looked as bad as the Ghostbusters one did, so they really had to step it up to get me on board. Plus, Simon Pegg (“Spaced,” Shaun of the Dead, Mission Impossible) co-wrote the latest script, so there’s that.


  3. […] What can you say about a paranormal action comedy that endures as one of the funniest and most entertaining films ever…even thirty years later? New fans are still discovering it every day, conventions are swarming with local Ghostbuster chapters of home-built costumes complete with lights and effects, and even Mattel toys has full-size exact-replica props straight from the film. The movie endures – the surest sign of a classic – and it’s impossible to utter even a single line of dialogue in a crowd without random strangers piling on the quotes. Thirty years later, there are still rumblings of making another sequel, but no one would dare suggest a reboot or re-imagining; Ghostbusters is perfect exactly as it is. (edit: so a reboot was suggested and did occur; you can read the Ghostbusters 2016 review here.) […]


  4. “About Chris Hemsworth’s character…I found the idea of a bubble-headed secretary who is male hilarious…as a satirical statement on the way women are often portrayed as sex kittens in film.”

    yeah, that’s what the naysayers are worried about. and truthfully, the original wasn’t sexist so why is the new one? People say it’s not sexist yet they are shooting male ghosts in between the legs and portraying men to be a pack of retards. the original didn’t make women look stupid. Dana was the straight man.

    The reason why red pill men are furious is because they want to enjoy a movie without having their intelligence insulted in the process. I don’t find anything funny about slapstick gender swapping. i’ll roll my eyes a couple times but that don’t make it good stuff. from what you’re describing you are being rather generous with your review. but to suggest it is 3.5 out of 4 when what you are describing is closer to a 2 is disappointing because you are suggesting it’s just as good as the original.

    that’s impossible. now i have to see this.


    • Actually (to quote Honest Trailers), Bill Murray is kind of a borderline sexual predator the way he throws himself at Dana, never mind the “dumb blonde” moment at Tully’s party. So, yeah, a bit sexist, but Sigourney Weaver is such a force of nature that it overshadows those little tidbits; all the other roles were men — unless you count Gozer’s pre-Puft form and an Egon-obsessed Jeanine with very little screentime (in the sequel, she was practically a cartoon character).

      As I said in the review, it can be suggested “Kevin” is simply self-absorbed and oblivious to his surroundings, as demonstrated MANY times in the movie, but everyone still likes him anyway. He almost seems more like a puppy to care for rather than a co-worker, but it’s a huge opportunity for Chris Hemsworth to show how hilarious he can be.

      Without dissecting the film into its component parts, it’s funny, it’s scary, and it’s adventurous. It’s exactly what you want in a summer movie, all nitpicks aside. But if you read my original Ghostbusters review, I still hold that movie in higher regard…I just think the 2016 version is a great reboot to the franchise and hope they can make a better sequel than what we got in 1989.



    Last chance: if you haven’t seen the 2016 Ghostbusters, spoilers to follow!

    ALL SECONDARY CHARACTERS: as pointed out by fellow reviewer Jessica Darke, only the principle cast members seemed fully fleshed out; everyone else seemed intentionally one-dimensional — too much to be a coincidence — so it seems like a deliberate choice. The film could have been improved by giving a few something more, if only personality quirk or two.

    CROTCH SHOOT: it’s hard not to argue that this is a full-on feminst cheer moment when the all-lady team “kicks wolfman in the nards.” Had they tried shooting his hands or something else first (or someone pointing the giant cartoony ghost may not have nards), it might have seen less of sexism statement…unless, again, that’s exactly what the were going for.

    ROWEN’S BACKSTORY: the villain giving himself affirmations isn’t really a motivation; it’s dialogue. We learn he had a copy of Abby and Erin’s book, and he was smart enough to figure out the tech based on their theories the way Holtzman realized the ghostbusting equipment. As a suggestion, they could have given Rowen a history of going to the same high school where Abby and Erin met their junior year. While the girls were shunned by everyone else, Rowen may remember the girls shunning him when he tries to befriend the friendless — meaning he was worse than even them. This could have led to some great exchanges later when Rowen challenges the heroes. Rowen also might have remembered Patty from MTA, saying something like, “This is how you decided to make the most of the extra time I promised you?” Making Rowen more personally involved with the core characters would have had the added benefit of making him feel more dangerous.


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