So here we are then – the reboot of a beloved ‘80s franchise dismissed as tainted goods before anybody had even seen it. A sequel with Aykroyd, Murray and co reprising their roles despite being in their mid-60s why yes, but a rehash with (shock horror) an all-female cast no thank you. That’s what the internet decreed anyway. Certain that director Paul Feig would drop the ball, keyboard warriors from far and wide launched a ludicrous campaign to make the film’s first trailer the most disliked in YouTube history. Admittedly it was oddly laugh-free.
The finished product – praise be to Zuul – is anything but, although there is a bit of a slow start. After a haunted house opening that introduces the excellent special effects and pleasingly old-school sound design there are a number of gags that don’t quite land. Feig’s broad, scattershot style tends to produce uneven results, so it’s a great relief when the miss-hit ratio tips in the right direction and the film settles into its breezy groove. You know you’re in safe hands when a nod to the naysayers has the new crew check out reviews of a recent video post: “Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts.”
Of course that’s exactly what they’re gonna do, Kristen Wiig‘s neurotic particle physicist reuniting with former partner Melissa McCarthy when her paranormal past dashes her hopes of tenure. Both are great (as they almost always are), while newcomer Leslie Jones makes a seamless step up from Saturday Night Live as former subway worker Patty Tolan. Kate McKinnon is more of a mixed bag as a loose-cannon nuclear engineer, occasionally overcooking the zaniness and coming off as either ineffective or mildly irritating.
There’s always somebody to pick up the comedic slack, though. More often than not it’s Chris Hemsworth, here playing a delightfully ditzy receptionist whose failure to answer the phone or make a decent cup of coffee does nothing to curb Wiig’s hopelessly one-sided infatuation. A detour through cameo city also provides some memorable appearances from the old guard, and Andy García makes the most of limited screen time as the New York mayor. Under no circumstances are you to compare him to Amity Island’s Larry Vaughn.
Everything – of course – builds to a CGI climax, the team riding to the rescue when a crazed loner unleashes the apocalypse. There’s little tension, but the video game-style visuals are absolutely gorgeous as all manner of ghosts and ghouls bathe the Big Apple in neon green. One standout sequence sees McKinnon unholster her secret weapons and cut swathes through hordes of spectral nasties. Set as it is to that classic theme tune it’ll take one hell of an action set-piece to best it. So who would have thought it? Instead of destroying everything that’s good and holy Feig and team make sure bustin’ still feels pretty damn good.