Paul Feig sold his soul to the devil. There is no other way to explain it. Prior to ‘07, Feig had directed such critical and box office flops as “I am David” (38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), and “Unaccompanied Minors” (31 percent). Then Feig released his soul to Beelzebub, and suddenly he is a successful director.
Except for suddenly being 28 grams lighter, nothing else has changed about Feig’s schtick. “Bridesmaids” was pedestrian, yet it sits at 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. “The Heat” should have been immediately relegated to the same trash heap, and yet it has a 65 percent approval rating. Then there was last year’s “Spy” — the uninspired, one-joke bore and third-straight film Feig has directed starring Melissa McCarthy — that currently sits at an unconscionable 94 percent positive rating.
If you have been anywhere near the Internet lately, you have heard about Feig’s new “Ghostbusters” reboot and how horrible it is. When the trailer was released, it almost instantly became the most disliked video in the history of YouTube. The good news is that it is not that bad; it’s just not very good.
Despite Feig hammering home the point in interviews that this reboot is in no way beholden to the path forged by the classic 1984 original, Feig’s “Ghostbusters” follows a very similar story line: three scientists and one black person who is not a scientist join forces to save New York City from an invasion of spirits and ghouls. They argue with the mayor and an irksome government employee along the way, and in the end, battle against a building-destroying abomination the size of a skyscraper.
Along the way, there are plenty of callbacks to the original film, including cameos by the Hook & Ladder No. 8 building, Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. But it is a different movie this time, because, in case you hadn’t heard, this time it’s all ladies.
Much has been made about the casting of McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones as the titular Ghostbusters, and almost none of it is good. As far as that goes, the casting was fine. Wiig is charming and makes the best of a rather weak role, McCarthy does her “loud Melissa McCarthy” thing that people seem to enjoy, Leslie Jones brings more happiness and joy to her role than it deserves, and McKinnon almost single-handedly rescues the film from being a boring, humorless slog.
But while there are the makings of a clever, fun film here, Feig does not have a feel for the material. Most of the jokes are weak. The ghosts are wildly inconsistent in quality, and the film is riddled with confusing editing choices. Ultimately, this is a disappointing film that is fun in spots, funny in a few others and frustratingly close to good in all the rest. n
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones