“Ghostbusters” (Columbia Pictures, Sony)
The saying, “everything old can be made new again,” is alive in Hollywood more than anywhere else, it seems. There, it’s more of a mantra. Remakes and reboots every year keep the stories we love alive from one generation to the next. (And, if we’re being honest, they also resurrect stories that should be allowed to rest in peace for all eternity.) In the near future, we will see a resurgence of “classic ’80s” movies — including “The Goonies,” “Gremlins,” “Police Academy” and “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” — all of which will be brushed off and retooled for the modern moviegoer. But before any of those, you’ll see the “Ghostbusters” redux hit theaters this month.
The storyline for this new incarnation of the movie falls closely in line with the source material: A group of four — a particle physicist, a paranormal activities expert, a nuclear engineer and an “everyman” subway worker — team up to establish a spirit-removal business called Ghostbusters. As the public at large catches “ghost fever” over this trendy new phenomenon, the Ghostbusters earn a celebrity following that is both good and bad. When spirits and demons amass in the heart of Manhattan ready to unleash a supernatural apocalypse on the realm of the living, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters, of course!
The glaring difference between this version of “Ghostbusters” and the ’80s original isn’t so much the content as it is the context, which centers on gender reversals. Rather than being played by four dudes, the Ghostbusters are all comediennes — Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones — women who have earned their comedic chops on “Saturday Night Live,” in feature-length films and in sitcoms. These ghost-bustin’ ladies are assisted by a receptionist played by Chris Hemsworth. While there’s a love/hate reaction to this gender reversal, it certainly makes this revival fresher than any straightforward remake could have.
The big question is whether these zany ladies can carry off translating a cult classic from a much cheesier era of filmmaking into the modern era of moviemaking without making the redo feel anachronistic. So far, the project has received blessings and support from original cast members Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, who have cameos in the movie (along with Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver, also original cast members). These ladies just may pull it off and bring the fun of “Ghostbusters” to a new generation of viewers who will come to love it as much as the children of the ’80s did before them. — REVIEWED BY AMANDA STAFFORD