The new Ghostbusters was on a hiding to nothing even before director Paul Feig and his talented cast stepped onto the set for their first day of shooting. As you will have no-doubt read (so no point in rehashing it here in great detail) numerous man-children on the internet with a collective emotional age of three decided they did not want their favourite film of all time messed with and so actively campaigned against it – going so far as to accuse Feig of "raping" their childhoods. Fortunately, these microbes are nothing but a noisy minority; and also fortunately, the film itself turns out to be one of the funniest of the year as well as being an affectionate homage to the 1984 original.
It's not so much a remake as an interesting fresh take on the material – a reimaging rather than a reworking or a reboot. Although the plot follows a similar arc to the original, what we don't have here are just female versions of the characters played by Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis and Hudson. After an opening that sort of mirrors the original's New York Public Library scene, but set in a mansion-turned-museum instead (and with a hilarious performance from Silicon Valley's Zach Woods as a tour guide) we meet Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) who had once worked together to write a book about the paranormal but had since fallen out. They are reunited to investigate the strange goings on at the museum, joined by Abby's weird lab partner, engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). And after investigating another ghostly incident, this time on the subway, the quartet is rouonded out by transit authority worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones). They set up shop above a Chinese restaurant (their first choice for a headquarters was a little too pricey), hire pretty-but-very-bloody-thick secretary Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) and the Ghostbusters are officially in business.
There really is an incredible amount of fun to be had with this new Ghostbusters if you are prepared to just go along for the ride. It's not a perfect film by all means - there are plot holes here and there, and it does seem to still have a bit of a problem making a black character a scientist too – but the spirit and energy of the cast, and the writing, make up for the few flaws it has. It does not try to be a scene-for-scene remake of the original, but tells a similar story of New York coming under seige from some rather nasty spirits and a bunch of slightly mad scientists coming to its rescue. The script is hilarious, with some wonderful nods to the original film (but not quite how you would expect) as well as some savage digs at the online haters (the most savage being that the film's main villain is a sad, nerdy loner who probably spends his free time online posting nasty comments about girls). The cast are all wonderful, led by Feig regulars McCarty and Wiig, who brig a likeable goofiness to their characters. But the film is almost completely stolen by McKinnon, who is pretty much unknown outside of American sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. Not for long, though - her drily wacky turn here as gadget guru Holtzmann is nothing short of brilliant and is sure to put her on the Hollywood map, and deservedly so. Also surprising is Hemsworth; we all knew he could do comedy (witness Thor, The Avengers and Vacation) but we didn't know he could be this funny. Hollywood, cast this guy in some more comedies please.
Studios, strangely, still believe that women-led films don't put bums on seats – clearly they have forgotten about box-office successes such as the Twilight series, Bridesmaids, The Hunger Games saga, Spy, Gravity, Frozen or Lucy. And this new Ghostbusters will also do very well at the box office once the word gets out about just how good it is, despite what those silly little boys sitting in their parents' basements say about it online. The cast gels nicely and has plenty of chemistry, the script is sharp and witty, the scares a decent (even if there is a little too much reliance on CGI) and the cameos are sublime (and yes, Slimer and the Staypuft Man do turn up). It's a beautiful, and very funny, love letter to the original while also being a clever, and very modern, supernatural comedy with a nicely feminist slant. This bustin' is sure to make you feel good...