I honestly can’t remember a film that has received such widespread hatred from the very first moment it was announced than Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters. I mean, maybe Batman V Superman, but even that backlash was more directed at the film itself rather than the mere existence of the film.
A lot of the criticism has been fairly disproportionate too, with the trailer becoming the most disliked video in YouTube history, and legions of self-proclaimed “real fans” reacting with furious vitriol to each and announcement and promotional release, with claims of “blasphemy”, “sacrilege” and “ruined childhoods” aplenty. That’s even before you start looking at the bitterly misogynistic subset of the critics – whose bile you can find in almost any social media mention of film over the past year – who seem to be reacting with revulsion and horror at the idea of *gasp* women thinking they can be Ghostbusters. Sure, there are also critics who simply don’t actually think the film looks all that good, and that’s cool, but they’re sadly outnumbered by the… let’s say less justified objections to the reboot.
As could probably have been predicted however, the vast majority of these criticisms turned out to be completely unfounded. Sure, a few jokes didn’t land as well as they perhaps should have, and the general tone was a little more broad than some fans may have been hoping, but there’s no denying the fact that there were some genuinely hilarious moments to be had here. Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig have some great on-screen great chemistry as you might expect as Abby Yates and Erin Gilbert respectively, and Leslie Jones – while certainly a bit of an acquired taste in her loud, over-the-top portrayal of Patty Tolan – actually provides a few decent laughs along way. The real star of the show though, for me at least, is Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann, whose quirky eccentricity and brilliant comic timing help her to steal almost every scene she’s in. I mean, not quite to the same extent as Bill Murray did in the original, don’t get me wrong, but McKinnon is still very much the standout in this impressive ensemble cast.
The story plays out pretty much as expected, with a mixture of fresh ideas and fan service (including cameos from original ‘Busters Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson), and while the finale did lean a little too heavily on the CGI side of things, there was definitely a lot more action and excitement – in a similar vein to the “Real Ghostbusters” animated series or the ongoing IDW comicbook title – than was present in the original movie. In fact, the only aspect of the film that really didn’t work for me was Chris Hemsworth as Kevin. Don’t get me wrong, Hemsworth has some great comedy timing and a clear willingness to poke a little fun at himself, but his bumbling idiocy actually got a little grating at times, distracting from the flow of the story (although that said, one particular gag about comparing head-shots was absolutely bloody fantastic).
For me, though, the real success of the film was measured in the excited laughter and chattering of the children in the audience as they made their way out of the cinema after the film had finished. Their reactions alone prove that this movie was a worthwhile endeavor. Ghostbusters is an enduring franchise which has spawned some of the most fiercely passionate supporters – for better or worse – in all of fandom, and now a whole new generation of moviegoers have something they can get excited about. In all the talk about “ruined childhoods”, people seem to be forgetting that we’ve already had our childhoods brightened up by the Ghostbusters, and that maybe it’s time to loosen the grip a little and let the youngsters of today have a play with our toys.
Fun, funny and occasionally flawed, Ghostbusters rises above the tidal wave of hatred to provide a silly and enjoyable cinematic experience that will have a whole new generation of movie fans yelling “I ain’t afraid of no ghost!” It’s not perfect, but I can definitely see a lot of people who have preemptively decided to hate it feeling more than a little frustrated with the impressive execution on display here.