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‘Ghostbusters’: What the Critics Are Saying

by  in Movie News Comment
‘Ghostbusters’: What the Critics Are Saying

Following months of wailing and gnashing — presumably figurative and literal — from certain corners of fandom, the first reviews have arrived for Paul Feig’s “Ghostbusters” reboot, and the consensus seems to be that it’s pretty good. Well, mostly.

That’s not to say the film is without its criticisms, mind you. Echoing CBR’s Kristy Puchko, many of the reviews praise the performances by stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, and Chris Hemsworth, and spotlight the latter two for their breakout turns. However, some ding the comedy for being too reverential — and referential — to the 1984 original, and for playing it too safe. Of course, there’s at least one critic who flat-out hated the film.

Here’s a selection of reviews published this morning:

Drew McWeeny of HitFix: “The script, by Feig and Katie Dippold, does some big things different, and the choices they make are intriguing. First and foremost, though, ‘Ghostbusters’ is a big fat slice of silly summer entertainment, confident and sometimes quite beautiful. It is the biggest stretch Feig’s made so far as a filmmaker, embracing the technical side of things in a way he never has so far, and stuffed chock full of affection for everything that makes ‘Ghostbusters’ such an enduring favorite.”

Robert Abele of TheWrap: “It’s understandable that this franchise relaunch would want to remind you of the original, but there’s no getting around that this new A-team of ghostbusters are fresh and funny enough to have earned space in the summer comedy firmament.”

Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly: “So why does ‘Ghostbusters’ feel so restrained? For starters, it’s too slavish when it nods to the original (although its throw-back cameos are fun), and too flailing and flat when it strays from it (Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold introduce a ghost-unleashing villain, then don’t know what to do with him). Even the spectral f/x are oddly shlocky (seeing it in 3-D is pointless aside from one comin’-at-ya slime gag).”

Angie Han of Slashfilm: “Feig’s ‘Ghostbusters’ is more interested in carving out a new space than it is in retracing the steps of the original. While it may not reach ‘instant classic’ status, it’s still an entertaining addition to the franchise, bursting with humor and personality that’s all its own.”

David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter: “The unfunny mess that hits theaters July 15, like a big goopy splat of ectoplasm, will no doubt make those naysayers feel vindicated. But the fact is that an estrogen-infused makeover, particularly one with such a comedically gifted cast, was a promising idea. Sadly, that’s where the inventiveness ended.”

Devin Faraci of Birth. Movies.Death: “Each of the actresses is playing to her own strength, but together they make a formidable comedic ensemble in that every one of them presents an interesting potential match-up with every other one. Kristen Wiig is the straightest of the group, although her straightness is in service of a simmering comedic desperation and aggravation that allows her to explode into great comedy. Opposite her is Melissa McCarthy, not playing her usual slob character but rather an endearingly aggressive true believer. Leslie Jones is a burst of pure electricity in every one of her scenes, even when she’s just reading a magazine. And Chris Hemsworth is a wonder, truly allowing himself to get completely absurd as Kevin. … But the MVP, the real breakout player, is Kate McKinnon.”

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times: “It’s at once satisfyingly familiar and satisfyingly different, kind of like a new production of ‘Macbeth’ or a Christopher Nolan rethink of Batman. As it turns out, the original ‘Ghostbusters’is one of those durable pop entertainments that can support the weight of not only a lesser follow-up (the 1989 sequel ‘Ghostbusters II’), but also a gender redo. That the new movie stars four women is a kind of gimmick, of course, but it’s one that the filmmakers and the excellent cast deepen with real comedy chemistry and emotionally fleshed-out performances, particularly from Ms. McCarthy and Ms. Wiig, who are playing old-friends-turned-sort-of foes who need to work some stuff out.”

Peter Debruge of Variety: “Whereas Feig has previously managed to cross genre streams successfully (building up to exciting spy- and cop-movie set pieces in his earlier comedy hybrids), here he succumbs to the familiar curse of the digital-effects era: When there’s almost nothing the computer can’t conjure, it falls to the director to know when to stop.”

Stephanie Zacharek of Time: “No one has to love Paul Feig’s new ‘Ghostbusters,’ or even like it. But anyone who continues to stand against it on principle—’My childhood has been defiled! I don’t like its stars! The trailer was bad!’—is an unimaginative schmuck. Because Feig’s ‘Ghostbusters’ is its own definitive creature, an affable, inventive riff on Ivan Reitman’s proton-packing caper that exists not to score points, but only to make us laugh. For a summer comedy, there’s no nobler purpose.”

Kyle Anderson of Nerdist: “… I do wish it had distanced itself more from the original. While the storyline is completely new and none of the characters are direct retreads of the ones in the first one, there are constant nods that have a tendency to take the viewer out of it. ”

Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair:There’s been so much furor over this ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot since it was announced, almost completely focused on the fact that all the leads are played by women. (And, indeed, the characters they play are women too.) So I went into the movie spoiling for a fight—I really wanted to like director Paul Feig’s reimagining, to prove all the misogynist online naysayers wrong. But ‘Ghostbusters,’ quick and dull and weightless, offers very little to root for. It spends so much time doing battle with its legacy that it forgets to be its own movie, putting a talented cast to waste and marking another disappointment in this dreadful summer movie season.”

Jen Yamato of The Daily Beast: “Unfortunately ‘Ghostbusters’ also comes saddled with the trappings of 21st century studio filmmaking: lulls in pacing, kiddie-safe comedy, choppy editing, and the general sense that a sharper, ballsier version exists in an alternate Hollywood universe. Nevertheless, with a crackling sense of purpose and a surplus of reverence for their predecessors, new Ghostbusters Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, and ‘Saturday Night Live’ standouts Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones plant their own flag on a beloved sci-fi comedy franchise—even if it’ll still take a miracle from beyond to convert the hypercritical haters.”

Nigel M. Smith of The Guardian: “Fun oozes from almost every frame; likewise the energy of a team excited to be revolutionising the blockbuster landscape.”

Julia Alexander of Polygon: “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.”

Ghostbusters opens Friday nationwide.

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