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Ghostbusters Just a Big Marshmallow That Could Use Some Toasting

  • Susan Ellingburg Contributing Writer
  • 2016 14 Jul
<i>Ghostbusters</i> Just a Big Marshmallow That Could Use Some Toasting

Not so much a remake as a re-imagining. It's fairly fun in a fluffy kind of way, but there's no plot to speak of and the effects are nothing to shout about. The Ghostbusters play well together but is that worth the price of a movie these days? Only if you're going to the dollar theater. 2 out of 5.

Want Another Take? Watch Our Video Review of Ghostbusters


When ghosts start popping up in Manhattan, who ya gonna call? Paranormal "experts" Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Abby (Melissa McCarthy), mad scientist Jillian (Kate McKinnon) and subway worker Patty (Leslie Jones)—they ain't 'fraid of no ghosts.

What Works?

McKinnon steals every scene she's in, with or without her outrageous ghost-fighting contraptions. She reminded me of nothing so much as a young female version of Doc from Back to the Future—crazy hair and all. Watching Chris Hemsworth as "dumb as a box of rocks" Kevin is fun, too, and not just for the eye candy factor.

It pretty much works for family entertainment; littles may be frightened by some of the more gruesome ghosts, but upper elementary on up should be fine. It's not great art and there aren't what you'd call teachable moments, but as candy it’s not bad. Cast members from the original Ghostbusters turn up at intervals (as different characters), prompting happy cries of recognition from the audience at my screening. While this is neither a beat-for-beat retelling of the 1984 film nor a sequel, there are numerous references to the first one—including that iconic theme song.

What Doesn't?

There's nothing much that resembles a plot; the point of the thing seems to be to show off cartoony special effects and cover our heroines in slime. Sure, that's amusing, but it gets old fast. Some of the ghosts-take-Manhattan sections go on far too long; the thrill of multi-colored blurs flying around the city fades long before the scene does.

Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes

The whole thing begs the question of what happens when we die; according to this film, souls are trapped on "another level" just aching to get out and wreak havoc on the living. That flawed concept aside, the story hinges on the inability of a character to get past wrongs (real or imagined) done to him in the past. A little forgiveness would go a long way here, but it would also remove the entire premise of the movie. When a ghost shows up at a rock concert the singer proudly proclaims, "We have summoned Satan himself," but he's wrong. Satan would have been a whole lot scarier.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers)

  • MPAA Rating: PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor 
  • Language/Profanity: Not a lot (especially for a McCarthy movie) and it goes by quickly: Jesus' name and OMG; holy cr**, a** kissing (a comment, not an action); an invitation to "s**k it"; and a couple of references to hell including an invitation to burn in it, which only seemed appropriate considering it was addressed to a ghost. Some very creative versions of giving 'the finger.' There's a joke about God being drunk that is funnier than it sounds here.
  • Sexuality/Nudity: Thankfully free of the skanky sexual humor that abounds in many gal 'comedies' these days; a cartoon of a ghost has large female breasts and there's a brief discussion about them; a female character is enamored with a male but it's played for laughs; one quick comment about a character's virginity; it would appear the implied sexuality of the 1984 version has been downplayed here.
  • Violence/Frightening/Intense: Some of the ghosts and ghostly violence could be too intense for the young or the easily startled—especially in the 3D version—but on the whole the scares are not overdone. A couple of characters are briefly possessed by a ghost, which may be disturbing for some viewers.
  • Drugs/Alcohol: People seen drinking at dinner and at a bar.

The Bottom Line

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of the original who need to convince themselves the 1984 version was superior; families who don't mind ghost stories laced with liberal amounts of slime; and moviegoers looking for a little mental fluff.

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of the original who expect this version to be an improvement; anyone who has issues with the paranormal; moviegoers who prefer films with actual plots. True Confession: While I (gasp!) have not seen the original Ghostbusters, my companion had and was thoroughly disgusted by this version. Her recommendation for fans was: if you must see it, wait for video. I don't judge it that harshly, but I wouldn't pay full price, either. It's like a marshmallow (the usual kind, not the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man): light, fluffy, and forgettable but kind of fun while it lasts.

Ghostbusters, directed by Paul Feig, opened in theaters July 15, 2016; available for home viewing October 11, 2016. It runs 105 minutes and stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Charles Dance, Michael K. Williams, Nathan Corddry, Andy Garcia and Ed Begley Jr. Watch the trailer for Ghostbusters here.

Susan Ellingburg spends most days helping to create amazing live events and most nights at the movies, at rehearsals, or performing with vocal ensembles in the Dallas area. This leaves very little time for cleaning house. A natural-born Texan, Susan loves all things British, Sunday afternoon naps, cozy mysteries, traveling with friends, and cooking like a Food Network star (minus the camera crew).

Publication date: July 14, 2016