After the Lord of the Flies–level mayhem of the press check-in, Ghostbusters, which was supposed to be shown in IMAX 3-D, began in 2-D … with the Windows logo glaringly visible in the bottom left of the screen and a running timer tracking each second in the bottom right. At around the 15-minute mark, the lights came up, and a Sony rep announced, “This isn’t the way we wanted you to see it,” and then told us the film would start over. As a consolation, there was mention of free popcorn, soda and candy in the lobby; as several spectators bolted for the snacks, it was clear that this
And so, 50 disorganized minutes after it was supposed to, Ghostbusters began in the proper format. What I watched for the next two hours was mostly a tragic underutilizing of four of this country’s funniest women — Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon as the evil-ectoplasm
Ghostbusters 2.0 suffers from the anxiety of influence — or, more specifically, from the fear of not wanting to alienate the fans (Gen Xers and others) of 1.0. It never strays far from the anodyne, generic humor that pervades the Ivan Reitman–directed 1984 original, written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, who starred with Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson. All of the principal cast (except for Ramis, who died in 2014, and to whom the film is dedicated) pop up in cameos, as do three secondary actors (two made of flesh and bone, the other from sugar and gelatin) — cloying appearances that have become de rigueur in remakes but that here especially highlight the timidity of Feig’s project. The biggest of these small roles goes to Murray, whose smug self-regard in Reitman’s film continues in Ghostbusters 2016 in a bizarre bit of doubling: He plays an imperious debunker whose lavishly patterned three-piece suits and walking stick are meant to recall Feig’s own well-documented sartorial excess.
However awkward, that odd meta-moment is, sadly, one of the few signs of flamboyance, of a personal stamp, in the film. There
That kind of lifeless, recycled language sounds even worse when Wiig, another performer who has perfected how to do things with words, cries out “Say hello to my little friend” before zapping a spook in the film’s near-interminable final act, a glut of green
It is only during Ghostbusters’ loopy, unpredictable and detail-dense final credits — the best such sequence I’ve seen in a film this year — that Feig’s rethink seems liberated from the burden of the past. As for the burdens of the present, it seems inevitable, and ridiculous, that his Ghostbusters will continue to be savaged on the spleen-soaked battlefields of the internet simply for existing. The film has assumed an outsize role