Thursday, July 14, 2016
Unlike the anarchic original film, which was scripted with surprises by Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, the new GHOSTBUSTERS is entirely predictable and creatively lazy. Everyone remembers the Stay-Puft marshmallow man from the original — one of film comedy’s most delightful and subversive reveals. Contrast that reveal with the big bad in the remake, which you’ll see coming an hour ahead.
Melissa McCarthy (IDENTITY THIEF) and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE cast members past and present Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon are the new ghostbusters in a screenplay by THE HEAT’s Katie Dippold and director Paul Feig that follows the basic structure of the original and finds time to shoehorn in mostly unsuccessful cameos by the original cast (the late Ramis, to whom the remake is dedicated, receives the classiest hat tip). Outside of occasionally witty visual effects and a scene-stealing turn by McKinnon as the gadget-happy ghostbuster named Holtzmann, very little of it is amusing. Chris Hemsworth, demonstrating why he rarely is cast in comedies, is the busters’ himbo secretary, a role that would spawn a hundred thinkpieces if the gender were switched. Andy Garcia (THE GODFATHER PART III) takes no billing as cinema’s 2588th foolish mayor, which spawns a timely JAWS joke.
But back to McKinnon. Of the main cast, only she is aware that the script is barely funny. Very little of what she says is funny on the face of it. But listen to her quirky line deliveries, watch the way she gestures or how she reacts to the craziness with a demented smile. She’s a little of the old Bill Murray and quite a bit of Harpo Marx (she even wears an unusual blond hairdo). Her performance is so out of step with McCarthy’s mugging, Wiig’s bumbling, and Jones’ yelling (her “feets, don’t fail me now” subway worker would spawn a thousand thinkpieces if the gender were switched) that one wonders whether the whole picture should have been structured like an absurdist Marx Brothers vehicle. McKinnon is as good in GHOSTBUSTERS as Kristen’s wig is bad.