March 25, 2018
Ghostbusters (2016)
Grade: 40/100

Director: Paul Feig
Stars: Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones

What it's about. A reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise, last seen on the big screen in the disappointing Ghostbusters II (1989). In this version, the ghost-catchers are a female quartet comprised of cutie Kristin Wiig, sassy Melissa McCarthy, eccentric Kate McKinnon, and scrappy Leslie Jones.

Once again, New York City is rampant with destructive green ghosts, this time promulgated by weirdo loser Neil Casey. On the job are our four comediennes, armed with technical gizmos and incompetent but hunky receptionist Chris Hemsworth. Matters inevitably progress into a great confrontation between the ghosts and our heroines, with the latter predictably attaining a total victory.

How others will see it. The film culture tried to like Ghostbusters, if not for its decent special effects, then for its feminist vibes. But although the film did manage a profit, it drew mixed reviews. Kate McKinnon, then in vogue for her "Saturday Night Live" portrayal of Hillary Clinton, received the most praise. On the other hand, the Golden Schmoes nominated Ghostbusters as Worst Movie of the Year, losing to Ben Stiller's Zoolander 2.

Not too surprisingly, men panned Ghostbusters across all age demographics, though males under 18 graded it lower (4.8) than men over 45 (5.1 out of 10). The grades from women were higher, and declined with advancing age, from 6.7 under 30 to 6.3 over 45. The user reviews are a series of complaints about the characters, actresses, story, and writing. We get it, you hate it.

How I felt about it. I have not seen Ghostbusters II (1989) and that is probably a good thing. I have seen the original Ghostbusters a few times, and the remake doesn't compare favorably. Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd are missed, of course, and yes I know they make cameo appearances here.

Certainly, Ghostbusters is a not-good, almost-bad movie. The question becomes, what could have made it better. And it isn't the budget, since that was a generous 144M. Perhaps too generous.

Smaller is often better, and the Ghostbusters reboot needs a diet. Who says you need four ghostbusters? Make it two: Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. Make it a mock drama instead of a comedy, and make it earn an "R" rating (from gore and violence) instead of a tame "PG". Ditch Chris Hemsworth, and give the antagonist a larger role. But recast Neil Casey.

Once story is downsized and most of the camp is turned to scary, you'll need a screenwriter and a director. Paul Feig is out, Neill Blomkamp is in, and replace the writer, although McKinnon and Jones should contribute dialogue.

So that would make it better than what we have now, namely, four talented actresses without much to work with, not enough scary ghosts, and unnecessary characters such as the New York mayor and boy-man Hemsworth.