Ghostbusters review: Just how important is a penis when it comes to running a successful ghost busting enterprise?

 
Steve Hogarty
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4.0

How can a woman bust a ghost when her dumb boobs would just get in the way? This philosophical quandary is just one of the many posed by the terrible crowd of awful men who live on the internet and split their time evenly between shouting at imaginary women and angrily squirming around on the floor in an impotent rage.

The sexist miasma surrounding the gender-flipped Ghostbusters has all but eclipsed the film itself. Fans who firmly believe that a big ol’ schlong is a vital component in luring and catching ghouls rejected the remake as a feminist conspiracy, an accusation which placed an unfair burden on the shoulders of its female cast. If an all-lady Ghostbusters film turned out to be rubbish, women around the globe would have had no choice but to apologise to the nearest penis, board an intergalactic spaceship and leave Earth forever. There would have been no other option. As it turns out, however, the new Ghostbusters is pretty good, so women are allowed to stay and continue making films. For now.

Bridesmaids director Paul Feig’s take on this apparently sacrosanct paranormal comedy adventure only roughly retraces the steps of the 1984 original. Kristen Wiig plays the everywoman, a respected scientist whose previous dabblings in the occult come back to rattle her career prospects. She reconnects with old school friend turned paranormal investigator Abby (the brilliant Melissa McCarthy, who is like a fun time granted corporeal form by a meddling wizard) and her laconic assistant Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon, who plays the Spengler-ish inventor with an unpredictable, sparky weirdness). The foursome is completed by subway worker Patty (played by SNL regular Leslie Jones, the sheer abrasive force of her comedy chops eroding any uncomfortable feelings of streetwise-sassy-black-woman typecasting).

Comparisons to the original, testicle-owning Busters couldn’t be farther from the point, as this new and entirely balls-free team conjures up an offbeat tone that’s distinct enough to stand on its own two feet. Together they form a smooth-running joke engine that purrs along with sketch-show pacing defined by profuse slapstick, silly one-liners (“never compare me to the Jaws mayor, never!” shouts the incandescent statesman who refuses to evacuate the city) and semi-improvised scenes that meander off into giddy stupidity. Pacing problems create some drag after an energetic first act however. From a purely business perspective, their ghost catching operation never quite reaches the same gratifying degree of success seen in the original film’s high-point montage, in which Dan Aykroyd is sucked off by a poltergeist.

Instead their progress is faltering, not nearly enough ghosts are busted and the plot rolls around aimlessly for a while until the big baddie shows up. Chris Hemsworth’s antagonistically dumb receptionist often misses the mark too, especially next to his more comedically accomplished co-stars.

Utterly deserving of a sequel, this entertaining reboot of a comedy classic gingerly strokes at the hem of greatness. How can a woman bust a ghost when her dumb boobs would just get in the way? Effortlessly, it turns out, and in a perfectly competent manner that continues to enrage horrible online turd-men who deserve to have their nostalgia steamrolled into the dirt.

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