The spook sisters were a great idea on paper, but the CGI overwhelms the humour.



Calling Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy and Leslie Jones

Following the revelation that in the last decade films featuring women have grossed $45.5 million on average more than films about men, Hollywood has overhauled tradition. Thus, the Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson is in talks to play Captain Marvel, the next Ocean’s Eleven instalment is to be an all-female affair (headed by Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett) and Charlize Theron has replaced Brad Pitt in the upcoming The Gray Man. And there’s more to come, so don’t get me started. The first high-profile example of this new trend is Ghostbusters, a distaff reboot of Ivan Reitman’s massive 1984 spectral comedy.


Actually, spooks are big money these days, as witnessed by the phenomenal success of The Conjuring (which grossed $318 million on a budget of $20m), the Paranormal Activity series and the stage musical Ghost. Quite why this is so may take the analysis of a Sigmund Freud or Derren Brown, but the fact remains. Audiences like to be scared. Combining laughs with shocks, though, is a more delicate matter, although it’s nothing new to the cinema, having been toyed with by everybody from Abbott and Costello to Eddie Murphy. The trick, of course, is to keep audiences unnerved while rolling out the guffaws.


Here, Sony Pictures’ feminised Ghostbusters reunites director Paul Feig with Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig from Bridesmaids, with the comedians Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones rounding out the fearless quartet. And in a neat twist of the old cliché, the role of the bimbo receptionist is amply filled by Chris Hemsworth. But – and it’s a big ‘but’ – is the film funny? Or scary?


Things do starts promisingly, with Zach Woods as the slick tour guide of the supposedly haunted Aldridge Mansion artfully treading the thin line between the funny and the patronising. And in the earlier stages Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig knock comic sparks off each other as their characters are reunited years after collaborating on a book about paranormal activity. But once the ghosts start commandeering Manhattan, the computer effects take over and we are treated to the familiar sight of New Yorkers running for their lives. There are some good lines, but not enough to leak out of the trailer, while the usual roster of cameo performances pretty much lead nowhere (although Andy Garcia, as the city’s sinister mayor, is fun). The powers-that-be seem to think that if you take a tried-and-tested idea, tweak it with a novel twist and then pack the whole thing with loud music, pratfalls, cameos and endless CGI that you will have a certain winner. Not so.




Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Charles Dance, Michael Kenneth Williams, Matt Walsh, Chris Hemsworth, Andy Garcia, Neil Casey, Michael McDonald, Ed Begley Jr, Zach Woods, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, Ozzy Osbourne.


Dir Paul Feig, Pro Ivan Reitman and Amy Pascal, Ex Pro Dan Aykroyd and Paul Feig, Screenplay Katie Dippold and Paul Feig, Ph Robert Yeoman, Pro Des Jefferson Sage, Ed Melissa Bretherton and Brent White, Music Theodore Shapiro, Costumes Jeffrey Kurland.


LStar Capital/Village Roadshow Pictures/The Montecito Picture Company/Pascal Pictures/Feigco Entertainment-Sony Pictures.

116 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 11 July 2016. Cert. 12A.