Starring four of the funniest women on earth, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call honors the spirit of the 1984 classic film.
While it would have been nice to have seen the likes of Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, and Winston Zeddemore pass the baton to a new generation, Harold Ramis’ death in 2014 would forever change the face of the franchise. Never mind just how hard it is getting Bill Murray to sign on board for anything. With that out of the way, let’s discuss the film.
Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon are among four of the most talented women in comedy. Bridesmaids director Paul Feig, who penned the script with Katie Dippold, is at the helm of the franchise update. What helps is that these folks are playing new characters and not trying to do their impressions of the originals. McCarthy and Wiig may be comedic forces of nature but McKinnon brings her own quirkiness to the role while Jones outright steals the show! It’s absolutely fun watching the four of them working together.
At the start of the film, physicist Erin Gilbert (Wiig) and parannormal expert Abby Yates (McCarthy) have been out of touch for a bit. The two wrote a book together but they became the laughingstock of the science community without having proof. By the time that Erin reunites with Abby, Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon) is helping out Abby out as an engineer. While investigating activity in the subway, they encounter and then recruit Patty Tolan (Jones) to the team. Patty’s knowledge of New York plays to the team’s advantage.
It turns out that Rowan North (Neil Casey) is the unsuspecting villain of the film. He’s trying to upset the balance in New York by bringing the apocalypse upon us. While all this is going on, Mayor Bradley (Andy Garcia) and the Department of Homeland Security support them in private while taking on a different stance in public. At one point, Erin seeks him out while he is eating and calls on him to not act like the Jaws mayor.
Let’s talk about Kevin. Chris Hemsworth adds such a funny layer to the Ghostbusters secretary, Kevin Beckman. We already knew from Thor: Ragnarok that there was a funny side to Hemsworth. What he does in Ghostbusters goes above and behind. Improv isn’t an easy skill to master but Hemsworth is able to hold his own against talented improvisers. As a character, Kevin’s looks are able to off-set his lack of a decent IQ. Oh, he can dance, too. Oh, can he ever!
Revisiting the franchise some thirty years after the release means the technology gets a scientific upgrade. The proton packs aren’t the only things to get an update. A 1981-83 Cadillac hearse replaces the 1959 Cadillac ambulance to serve as the Ecto-1.
Visually speaking, this is where the film serves to honor the original film’s visual effects. They do so by way of old-school filming but with new-school tricks. I give a lot of credit to not just Paul Feig but also Visual Effects supervisor Peter G. Travers and Director of Photography Robert Yeoman.
Feig gives us the necessary fan service. A bust of the late Harold Ramis followed by cameos from Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver. It’s a shame that Rick Moranis didn’t return for a cameo but I can understand his reasoning. We also see the return of both Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
Listen, I’m not a fan of reboots. What I’m not going to do, however, is bash a film because all four leads happen to be female. There’s more to life than sexism and that’s a fact. If people don’t like this film solely because it’s an all-female reboot, that’s on them. The question that I have to ask myself is this: how does this film do on its own merits? The film’s spirit holds up to that of what we saw in 1984.
One positive thing that comes from casting the four women in leading roles is that films like this can help when it comes to women working in STEM. When young girls see women as scientists on screen, they get inspired to go into those fields. Whether this is something that filmmakers considered going into the film, I don’t know.
Two years after the film was released in theaters, Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters: Answer the Call holds up just fine. It’s just a shame that the box office take won’t allow us to see more of their stories.
DIRECTOR: Paul Feig
SCREENWRITER: Katie Dippold & Paul Feig
CAST: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Charles Dance, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Chris Hemsworth