However, if you’re looking for some mindless entertainment in an air-conditioned room, a two-hour respite from smart-phone notifications endlessly chirping out news of fresh real-life horrors, the new Ghostbusters should fit the bill. It’s not a great movie (neither was the original, in my opinion), but it’s amusing in a low-impact, silly way, mostly due to the charisma of its actors (ditto, the original).
As you may have heard — thanks internet! — this current batch of spook-chasers are ladies. There are two childhood pals and science nerds (Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig), a kooky gadget-maker (Kate McKinnon) and a transit worker who just wants to help (Leslie Jones). Truly, not much of this film’s budget was spent developing characters: These thinly sketched gals face off against a generic weird-guy-in-the-basement villain (Neil Casey), who is unleashing ectoplasm-spewing ghosts on New York City. Everything unfolds as expected, and not in an ideal fashion: Ghostbusters has a slow, creaky start (though it features the sad-eyed Zach Woods, who I’ll watch do anything), a flabby middle and a rushed conclusion.
But there are some laughs. These are four great comedic actresses and all get at least a few good jokes. (Plenty fall flat, but slide by like so much green slime.) McKinnon, with her off-kilter delivery and bendy physicality, may be beamed in from a truly weird maybe-not-even-funny movie; you’ll love it or hate it. And Chris Hemsworth is a good sport about playing the ditzy blond secretary in the tight shirt.
Fans of the first film (who have sold out their very souls to watch this, ahem) will find plenty of nods to the original work, including cameos by actors from the 1984 outing. Other cameos are contemporary, and a few are tragically wasted: Why book Matt Walsh (Veep) and the great Michael K. Williams just do a perfunctory cop scene? That’s a failing worth griping about.