Directed by: Paul Feig – Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Charles Dance, Chris Hemsworth, Andy Garcia
This remake of the classic 1984 movie has been shrouded in controversy ever since it was announced in 2014, mainly because the powers that be decided to replace the original four male leads with four female actresses. While I would normally be amongst the first to champion female-centric movies, I have to admit that even I thought this smacked of tokenism.
Fast-forward to today, and the fact that the screening didn’t take place until the day before release did nothing to assuage my trepidation about this. Historically, that is a very bad sign. I do hate going into any movie with preconceived ideas, but it was difficult not to.
Ironically, given the subject matter, the spectre of the original looms large over this. All the main original cast make cameos, and there is a nice tribute to the late Harold Ramis in the form of a bust in a university hallway.
The story here draws inspiration from that movie rather than faithfully recreating it, and sees Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) reuniting with her former friend, and co-author of a book on the paranormal, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) when she needs to hide evidence of their literary work to secure tenure at a university.
Since she last saw her, Abby has teamed up with nuclear engineer, Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and the three inadvertently find themselves solving a haunting mystery in a well known local mansion.
When subway worker, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), sees strange activity at work, she contacts the trio, and before long is a member of the team. When they realise all the supernatural activity is interlinked, and that a nondescript hotel worker called Rowan (Neil Casey) has been releasing malevolent presences around the city, they must use all their resources to try and stop him before he unleashes a powerful portal, that will blur the lines between the spirit world and the real world irrevocably.
In fairness to the four leads they are all great actresses, and work really well together. Kate McKinnon in particular is an absolute scream. Hemsworth is also a revelation showing comic timing, and a knack for humour, that he hasn’t really had an opportunity to display before.
And the story isn’t dreadful – it is just a bit haphazard. This is as much down to the writing as it is to some choppy editing. There are some scenes that made it into the film that simply made my mind boggle. Equally there are some moments that appear to be going somewhere and then just don’t.
Also, despite its 12A certificate in Ireland, it can’t seem to decide if it is an adults’ movie or a kids’ movie, and as such it always feels a bit lacking. Quite often the cast (who more often than not deal with more adult material) seem a bit restricted trying to tone it down for a younger audience, and it does go quite close to the bone at times.
That said, I did enjoy the silliness of it, but it feels like an unnecessary remake/reboot. The highlight for me was the homage to the original, including the cast cameos. However, this only serves to highlight all that is missing here.
This is good fun, and for kids who have no notion of the original, it will be extremely entertaining. If you have any knowledge of the classic flick though, although you will laugh, you will feel this doesn’t quite hit the mark.
It is fun but unfulfilling, and, for me anyway, a one time watch only.
In Cinemas Now!