As far as reboots go Ghostbusters was one that audiences were not exactly holding out for. Fans of the original two films consider them comedic classics -- certainly the original. Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, both Saturday Night Live alumni teamed-up for the supernatural adventure that would inspire a phenomenon. Many anxiously awaited for the third installment, but after more than a decade "Part III" never happened, and many were wondering who indeed would answer the call!
Move forward to 2015 and hoping to capture lightning in a bottle, director Paul Feig went to work to pull together a cast of contemporary comedic talent to rival that of the original — and he went right to the source! The filmmaker corralled Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig both of which had worked with Feig before on the hit comedy Bridesmaids and had recently worked with McCarthy on Spy which proved (again) McCarthy marquee viability.
It wouldn’t be long before the line-up for the new Ghostbusters was rounded out with two more SNL comics and current cast mates Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones — when the announcement was made that the group was complete, and that the film would be a “reboot” instead of a sequel — fans were beside themselves! There was never any doubt that these four very talented comics couldn’t follow in the original quartets ghost-busting boots, but why start fresh?!
Why couldn’t these Ghostbusters be part of the previous established legacy? It just didn’t make all that much sense to retcon the two previous films…then the movie hit theaters. The production value for the new Ghostbusters was remarkable indeed, meeting the demands of a summer blockbuster in every shape possible. No doubt, the new cast had huge shoes to fill, and the fandom didn’t relent, nor were they ultimately that kind.
Ghostbusters didn’t win over very many critics; fans were not bowled over either. Though McCarthy and Wiig at the center of the quartet are refreshing yet familiar; McKinnon and Jones are wildly unique and spontaneous, evoking the chemistry that we loved and was the core of the original flicks, this Ghostbusters is missing the “spirit” of the original. Wiig kicks off the film playing Erin Gilbert, slightly neurotic and insecure, but otherwise brilliant, she isn’t into ghosts…not right away at least!
Erin gets coerced by McCarthy’s Abby Yates the two were old friends and once collaborated on a book about the supernatural, and along with McKinnon’s Jillian Holtzmann and Jones’ Patty Tolan it isn’t long before they find themselves caught up investigating the paranormal when an ancient force takes over New York City. Erin is mortified when Abby books their book on eBay especially when she’s in the midst of making tenure at Columbia University, but the group can’t help get sucked in when they get slimed on their first investigation.
All along the story evolves as you would expect it to; Ghostbusters is haphazardly predictable, but it’s a reboot after all. It is unfortunate that it doesn’t incorporate the legacy inspired by its predecessor — it would have benefitted from continuing the story. Relegating the original film’s stars to short cameos also appears to underserve their presence in the film at all. Fresh starts are often great, but it’s become a crutch for Hollywood to resort to the device to reinvigorate franchises.
Ghostbusters should have been the exception and it would have been a wonderful homage as the new quartet are as formidable as the original. The home release includes an “Extended Edition” of the film which re-edits the Theatrical Version, but doesn’t really change or enhance the narrative. The characters are just as evolved (minimally) as in the summer release, and the “ghostbusting” feels very much he same. Often times, “Extended Versions” almost deliver a whole new film, filling in the blanks but in this case Ghostbusters the “Extended Edition” is just as transparent.
Ghostbusters (2016) directed by Paul Feig starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wigg, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD, also in 4K Ultra HD.