Ghostbusters review: a hilarious and fun paranormal romp

Paul Feig's Ghostbusters is a movie that embraces every silly aspect surrounding it. Ghostbusters is far from a perfect film but it's full of hysterical moments and goofy scenarios that makes it one of the most fun movies of the summer so far.

Ghostbusters is at its best when its main stars — Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon — are on screen together. It's a movie that relies on the antics of an ensemble for some of the bigger jokes to land and when Feig lets the comedians work off of one another's momentum, it feels like the film we were hoping for.

There are slight pacing issues with the movie, which leads to moments of brief boredom, and that comes as a result of trying to turn the comedy into an action film. The actual ghost-busting scenes can be feel pretty tedious, but that moment of weariness is alleviated when Feig decides to refocus on the comedy. Ghostbusters has always been a movie about misunderstood misfits with a strong sense of belief running amok in New York City more so than a film about the paranormal. For the most part, Feig realizes this and the film delivers line after line of quirky dialogue perfectly suited to each comedian. McKinnon's oddball style of humor beautifully compliments Jones' loudmouthed hollering, while Wiig's facial reactions to McCarthy's sarcastic bite keeps some of the film's slower parts moving forward with ease.

Much like one of Feig's other movies, Bridesmaids, there's a chemistry between the actors that's infectious and it's their obvious enjoyment on screen that seeps into you while watching, making it impossible not to laugh along and root for them.

Ghostbusters is an incredibly fun movie, and in that regard, does the original film more than enough justice.


There are certain similarities between Ivan Reitman's 1984 film and this version of Ghostbusters. Both take place in New York City, feature Columbia University as a starting point, have a crazed madman obsessed with humanity's downfalls and, of course, ghosts. But the small similarities almost act as background in Feig's film. It's the differences where the movie finds itself and breaks away just enough from Reitman's version that the concept of Ghostbusters feels fresh.

After years of being apart following a fallout, Columbia professor Erin Gilbert (Wiig) reunites with high school best friend and fellow paranormal investigator Abby Yates (McCarthy). During an outing to visit a supposedly haunted house, the two — and Abby's assistant Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon) — encounter an apparition, justifying all of their work over the years and substantiating claims made in a book they co-authored nearly a decade earlier. As they investigate more rumors about ghosts appearing around the city, they meet subway booth operator Patty Tolan (Jones) who decides to join the three scientists and scope out where the ghosts are coming from.

The film couldn't exist if one character was more important than another and even Chris Hemsworth's smaller role feels just as important to the success of the movie as the main cast's. One of the best parts of the movie, surprisingly enough, was Hemsworth's portrayal of dodo-brained assistant, Kevin. It's one of the few times Hemsworth doesn't rely on physical humor to carry a character and although the attention focuses mostly on his good looks, he manages to make his character feel like more than a two-dimensional sex object, easily delivering some of the film's best jokes and scenes.

Once the initial awkwardness of realizing they're forming a strange troupe of paranormal chasers wears off, the group becomes inseparable, spending all of their time trying out new weapons they can use on various ghosts or eating Chinese takeout from the restaurant below them. It's when Ghostbusters begins to find its groove and where Feig comes into his own. Feig is a master of working with an ensemble, as seen in his other work including Bridesmaids and episodes of Freaks and Geeks, and Ghostbusters is a movie that relies on the talents of everyone on screen working in harmony.

Even more importantly, however, is how serious Feig takes the silliest aspects and reiterates their points to make us care about them, too. The entire premise of Ghostbusters is absurd and when making an absurdist comedy the only way to make it succeed is to treat it with the utmost seriousness. Feig does this, and for the most part, it's what makes Ghostbusters such an endearing watch. The team is so enthralled by what they're doing, and proving to the world that ghosts are real, capturing as many as they can for scientific purposes, that it's hard not to believe in their vision and root alongside them. Even though the premise of driving around New York City in a tricked-out hearse looking for ghosts is downright ridiculous, there's a level of urgency and seriousness coming from Feig and the cast that makes it even funnier.


That's the other thing about Ghostbusters: it's a comedy, through and through. The least interesting thing about Feig's version of the movie was also the least interesting thing about Reitman's: the ghosts. When Feig decides to spend his time on the paranormal hunting aspects of the film, it loses some of its magic. The scenes are big, loud and intense, and much to the cast's credit, they do a good job of trying to keep the comedic aspects alive while fighting off ghosts, but even then it feels lackluster. Feig tries to transition seamlessly from goofy comedy to sci-fi action, but never quite succeeds.

The closest he comes is in a hilarious encounter between Jones and a particularly interesting apparition, and the only reason it works well is because the scene focuses on the comedy of Jones fleeing the ghost more than the jump-scare preceding it.

Even the film's climactic, all-out battle between ghosts and busters feels tedious. It's a little too long and you spend most of the time wishing it was over so the cast could get back to bantering. It's a necessary scene, considering the entire premise of the film, but there's nothing particularly interesting about it and when juxtaposed to the less intense parts of the movie, it doesn't feel like it fits well, either. But where Feig loses focus on some elements of the movie, he more than makes up for with others, including making the gang appear as badass as possible.

Without revealing too much about the scene, there's a fantastic moment with McKinnon toward the end of the movie featuring a large group of ghosts. It feels like the moment Feig had been building up to all along and it shows off the power of these four women.

Feig never calls attention to the fact that this ghost-busting team is entirely female because there's no reason to. It's not a ridiculous notion that three of the most brilliant scientists can be women, nor is it absurd to think that they could handle taking down ghosts around New York City. Since that doesn't feel strange, Feig never comes out and points fingers at the fact that they're women, but simply tells a story about scientists trying to save New York City.

Focus is on their scientific ability and keenness to investigate the paranormal, not their gender.

In doing so, Feig has created a very funny, and above all else, fun movie about a team of ghostbusters who happen to be women. The focus is on their scientific ability and keenness to investigate the paranormal, not their gender. That being said, there's no question that these women are at the top of their game and the coolest of the cool.

Whereas the original ghostbusters — Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson — felt goofy and charming, there's a level of respect the new cast demands. In their quest to prove themselves and their science to the world, there's a certain attitude the team carries that screams they should be taken seriously. They also never lose their sense of comedy, and deliver hilarious punchline after punchline, embracing the self-deprecating scenes along with the most empowering.

Feig's Ghostbusters won't be an iconic film in the same way Reitman's was, but it is both hysterical and fun that doesn't fail to entertain.