4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Bill Murray Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today, we wish a happy 70th birthday to everyone’s favorite actor, Bill Murray!

That means, of course, that it’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 Films

Ghostbusters (1984, dir by Ivan Reitman)

Rushmore (1998, dir by Wes Anderson)

Lost In Translation (2003, dir by Sofia Coppola)

The Dead Don’t Die (2019, dir by Jim Jarmusch)

There’s something strange going on in the Ghostbusters: Afterlife Trailer


So here we are with yet another Ghostbusters film that wants to take things in a different direction. We’ve had guys fight, girls fight, and now, we’ll have kids fight. The could be what the franchise needs right now. Shows like Stranger Things and films like IT: Chapter One have shown that kids in stories pull in audiences. Jason Reitman (Juno, Tully) takes over directing duties here with his dad, Ivan, peeking in now and then.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife takes place in a more rural area, where a family (led by The Leftovers’ Carrie Coon) have moved in. The kids stumble on some strange events in town, and I guess this leads them to finding out who they’re related to. The Ghost traps, the Photon Packs and Ecto-1 are all still there, though I’ll admit I’m going to miss Kate McKinnon’s geeky gadget girl here. Hopefully, they’ll be able to make up with that in one of these characters, who could something of a TMNT Donatello-like whiz kid to the team.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife, starring Carrie Coon (Avengers: Infinity War), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man and the Wasp), McKenna Grace (Captain Marvel, The Haunting of Hill House), and Finn Wolfhard (IT: Chapter One, IT:Chapter Two) will hit cinemas in the Summer of 2020.

Music Video of the Day: Magic by Mick Smiley (1984, directed by Greg Gold)


Magic is probably best known for being used in the original Ghostbusters.  It’s the song that plays while the ghosts are being released from Ghostbusters HQ and subsequently haunting New York.  It’s been said that composer Elmer Bernstein, who did the score for Ghostbusters, hated the way that Magic was used in the film.  Then again, Bernstein also hated the film’s Oscar-nominated theme song.

The video has nothing to do with ghosts but instead, it’s about the magic of attraction.  It was directed by Greg Gold, who also directed videos for Michael Bolton and the Hollies.  Far better known than the video’s director is the video’s cinematographer.  Dominic Sena would go on to direct several music videos before eventually branching into directing feature films like Kalifornia, Gone In 60 Seconds, Swordfish, and Season of the Witch.

Enjoy!

Here’s A Teaser For Something That Might Be Ghostbusters 3


So, earlier today, Twitter was all abuzz because of a minute-long teaser for a film that won’t be coming out until 2020.  That title of that film …. well, actually, it doesn’t have an “official” title yet but, for now, people are just calling it Ghostbusters 3.

That’s right.  After all the controversy and drama that we went through with the last attempt to revive (or reboot, depending on which side you were on) the Ghostbusters franchise, it is happening again.  Except this time, according to Entertainment Weekly, it appears that the new film is going to be a “direct sequel” to the first two Ghostbusters films and it’s going to be directed by Jason Reitman.  Jason Reitman, of course, is the son of Ivan Reitman.  He’s also a director who, after his last few films, could really use another hit.

(Apparently, audiences in 2018 really weren’t interested in watching a movie about a forgotten 1988 presidential campaign.  Who would have guessed?)

The teaser itself is pretty simple.  There’s a storm.  There’s a barn.  There’s an old vehicle with a Ghostbusters logo.  Here’s what is not in the teaser.  First off, there’s no sign of the cast of the 2016 reboot, which I guess will make the YouTube commentariat happy.  There’s also no sign of Bill Murray, Dan Ayrkroyd, or even Ernie Hudson.  In the past, Bill Murray has said that he wasn’t interested in doing a third Ghostbusters films and, considering that Bill Murray pretty much does whatever he wants, you have to kind of wonder if he’ll actually come back or if maybe Ghostbusters 3 is just going to be Dan Aykroyd teaching his grandson (probably played by Pete Davidson) how to hunt and trap ghosts.

One of the many theories on twitter is that the film will bring the two sets of Ghostbusters together, which I assume means that we’ll get hilarious scenes of Aykroyd and Melissa McCarthy teaming up to complain about Chinese food.  To be honest, though, a crossover is not really that bad of an idea and it certainly would be fun to watch people’s heads explode as a result.  In fact, if this new Ghostbusters film is anything like the last Ghostbusters film, watching people’s heads explode will probably be more fun than actually watching the film itself.

(For his part, Ivan Reitman told EW that this film would be a “passing of the torch,” which could either refer to a new group of Ghostbusters or maybe just the fact that Ivan’s giving his son a job.)

In other words, who knows!?

But here’s the teaser.

Jedadiah Leland’s Horrific Adventures In The Internet Archive #15: Ghostbusters — Basic Training (1987, Activision)


Who wouldn’t want to be a member of the Ghostbusters?  (No, not the new version.  I’m talking about the version with Venkman and Ray and Egon.)  I got a chance to try when, while exploring the dark side of the Internet Archive, I played Ghostbusters — Basic Training (1987, Activision, Inc.).

Unfortunately, it turns out that catching ghosts is far more difficult than I originally assumed.

This is what the game starts with.  A night in a haunted house?  No problem, I can do that standing on my head.  I pressed return.

There’s the familiar logo!  I pressed return again.

Good.  I’m in front of the house.  Let’s get started with the training.  From my own experience playing text adventures, I know that the first thing I should do is check my inventory.

A text adventure that does not understand one of the most basic commands in interactive fiction?  That seems strange but I’ll adjust.  Since the description of my location disappeared when I typed in inventory, I’ll take another look around.

“Look,” I type.

An adventure game that doesn’t know the look command?  I search my memory and try to remember the directions that were previously listed.  The house was to the northwest.

“NW” I type.

“Northwest”

What?  Maybe I got the directions wrong.

“North”

“South.”

“East.”

“West.”

“Go house.”

“Go porch.”

“Annoyed.”

“Rage”

You get the idea.  Because the game and I are speaking different languages, I have yet to actually enter the house and get trained.  I haven’t even managed to step on the porch yet.

I’m never going to be a Ghostbuster.

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists Announced Their Picks For The Best of 2016!


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The Alliance of Women Film Journalists (of which I am not a member and what’s up with that!?) announced their picks for the best of 2016 earlier this week.

And here they are:

AWFJ BEST OF AWARDS
These awards are presented to women and/or men without gender consideration.
Best Film
Arrival
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

Best Director
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
David Mackenzie – Hell or High Water
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Best Screenplay, Original
20th Century Women – Mike Mills
Hail Caesar – Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
La La Land – Damien Chazelle
Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan

Best Screenplay, Adapted
Arrival – Eric Heisserer
Lion – Luke Davies
Love & Friendship – Whit Stillman
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins
Nocturnal Animals –Tom Ford

Best Documentary
13th – Ava DuVernay
Gleason – Clay Tweel
I Am Not Your Negro – Raoul Peck
OJ Made in America – Ezra Edelman
Weiner – Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegma

Best Animated Film
Finding Dory – Andrew Stanton andAngus MacLane
Kubo and the Two Strings- Travis Knight
Moana – Ron Clements, Don Hall, John Musker, Chris Williams
Zootopia – Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush

Best Actress
Amy Adams – Arrival
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Emma Stone – La La Land

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Viola Davis – Fences
Greta Gerwig – 20th Century Women
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Best Actor
Casey Affleck – Manchester By The Sea
Joel Edgerton – Loving
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Tom Hanks – Sully
Denzel Washington – Fences

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Ben Foster – Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges – Manchester By the Sea
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Best Ensemble Cast – Casting Director
20th Century Women – Mark Bennett and Laura Rosenthal
Hail Caesar – Ellen Chenoweth
Hell or High Water – Jo Edna Boldin and Richard Hicks
Manchester by the Sea – Douglas Aibel
Moonlight – Yesi Ramirez

Best Cinematography
Arrival – Bradford Young
Hell or High Water – Giles Nuttgens
La La Land – Linus Sandgren
Manchester by The Sea – Jody Lee Lipes
Moonlight – James Laxton

Best Editing
Arrival – Joe Walker
I Am Not Your Negro — Alexandra Strauss
La La Land – Tom Cross
Manchester By The Sea – Jennifer Lame
Moonlight – Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders

Best Non-English-Language Film
Elle – Paul Verhoeven, France
Fire At Sea – Gianfranco Rossi, Italy
The Handmaiden – Chan-Wook Park, South Korea
Julieta – Pedro Almodovar. Spain
Toni Erdmann – Maren Ede, Germany

EDA FEMALE FOCUS AWARDS
These awards honor WOMEN only

Best Woman Director
Andrea Arnold – American Honey
Ava DuVernay -13TH
Rebecca Miller – Maggie’s Plan
Mira Nair – Queen of Katwe
Kelly Reichardt – Certain Women

Best Woman Screenwriter
Andrea Arnold – American Honey
Rebecca Miller – Maggie’s Plan
Kelly Reichardt – Certain Women
Lorene Scafaria – The Meddler
Laura Terruso – Hello, My Name is Doris

Best Animated Female
Dory in Finding Dory –Ellen DeGeneres
Judy in Zootopia – Ginnifer Goodwin
Moana in Moana – Auli’i Cravalho

Best Breakthrough Performance
Sasha Lane – American Honey
Janelle Monáe – Moonlight and Hidden Figures
Madina Nalwanga – Queen of Katwe
Ruth Negga – Loving

Outstanding Achievement by A Woman in The Film Industry
Ava DuVernay – For 13TH and raising awareness about the need for diversity and gender equality in Hollywood
Anne Hubbell and Amy Hobby for establishing Tangerine Entertainment’s Juice Fund to support female filmmakers
Mynette Louie, President of Gamechanger Films, which finances narrative films directed by women
April Reign for creating and mobilizing the #OscarsSoWhite campaign

EDA SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS

Actress Defying Age and Ageism
Annette Bening – 20th Century Women
Viola Davis – Fences
Sally Field – Hello, My Name is Doris
Isabelle Huppert – Elle and Things to Come
Helen Mirren – Eye in the Sky

Most Egregious Age Difference Between The Lead and The Love Interest Award
Dirty Grandpa – Robert De Niro (b. 1943) and Aubrey Plaza (b. 1984)
Independence Day: Resurgence – Charlotte Gainsbourg (b 1971) and Jeff Goldblum (b 1952)
Mechanic Resurrection – Jason Statham (b. 1967) and Jessica Aba (b. 1981)
Rules Don’t Apply – Warren Beatty (b. 1937) and Lily Collins (b. 1989)

Actress Most in Need Of A New Agent
Jennifer Aniston – Mother’s Day and Office Christmas Party
Melissa McCarthy – The Boss and Ghostbusters
Margot Robbie – Suicide Squad and Tarzan
Julia Roberts – Mother’s Day
Shailene Woodley – Divergent Series

Bravest Performance
Jessica Chastain – Miss Sloane
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Sasha Lane – American Honey
Ruth Negga – Loving

Remake or Sequel That Shouldn’t have been Made
Ben-Hur
Ghostbusters
Independence Day: Resurgence
The Magnificent Seven
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

AWFJ Hall of Shame Award
Sharon Maguire and Renee Zellweger for Bridget Jones’s Baby
Nicholas Winding Refn and Elle Fanning for The Neon Demon
David Ayer and Margot Robbie for Suicide Squad
David E. Talbert and Mo’Nique for Almost Christmas

Here Are the 2016 Seattle Film Award Nominees!


Here are the 2016 Seattle Film Award Nominees!  I don’t know what the cat’s yawning about; these nominations are actually an interesting mix of the usual suspects (Moonlight, Manchester, La La Land) and a few unexpected but intriguing picks (like 13th and The Witch).

THE 2016 SEATTLE FILM AWARD NOMINEES:

BEST PICTURE OF THE YEAR:

BEST DIRECTOR:

  • Damien Chazelle – La La Land
  • Robert EggersThe Witch
  • Barry JenkinsMoonlight
  • Paul Verhoeven – Elle
  • Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

BEST ACTOR in a LEADING ROLE:

  • Casey Affleck – Manchester By The Sea
  • Ryan GoslingLa La Land
  • Logan Lerman – Indignation
  • Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
  • Denzel Washington – Fences

BEST ACTRESS in a LEADING ROLE:

  • Amy Adams – Arrival
  • Kate Beckinsale – Love & Friendship
  • Isabelle Huppert – Elle
  • Natalie Portman – Jackie
  • Emma StoneLa La Land

BEST ACTOR in a SUPPORTING ROLE:

BEST ACTRESS in a SUPPORTING ROLE:

  • Viola Davis – Fences
  • Lily Gladstone – Certain Women
  • Naomie HarrisMoonlight
  • Kate McKinnonGhostbusters
  • Michelle Williams – Manchester By The Sea

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST:

BEST SCREENPLAY:

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

  • EllePaul Verhoeven, director
  • The HandmaidenPark Chan-wook, director
  • The InnocentsAnne Fontaine, director
  • Under The ShadowBabak Anvari, director
  • The WailingNa Hong-jin, director

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

BEST FILM EDITING:

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

BEST YOUTH PERFORMANCE (18 years of age or younger upon start of filming):

BEST VILLAIN:

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The Women Film Critic Circle Honors Hidden Figures And Ghostbusters!


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The Women Film Critics Circle has announced their picks for both the best and the worst of 2016! And here they are:

BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN
Hidden Figures
BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN
13TH
BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]
13TH, Ava DuVernay
BEST ACTRESS
Natalie Portman, Jackie
BEST ACTOR
Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea
BEST YOUNG ACTRESS
Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge Of Seventeen
BEST COMEDIC ACTRESS
Kate McKinnon, Ghostbusters
BEST FOREIGN FILM BY OR ABOUT WOMEN
The Handmaiden
BEST DOCUMENTARY BY OR ABOUT WOMEN
13TH
BEST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
Hidden Figures
WORST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
Neighbors 2
BEST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
Loving
WORST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
Dirty Grandpa
WOMEN’S WORK/BEST ENSEMBLE
Hidden Figures
SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS COURAGE IN FILMMAKING
Ava DuVernay, 13TH
COURAGE IN ACTING [Taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen]
Rebecca Hall, Christine
*ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women
American Honey
*JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD: For best expressing the woman of color experience in America
Hidden Figures
*KAREN MORLEY AWARD: For best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity
Hidden Figures
*THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AWARD: [Performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored]
The women of Hidden Figures
BEST SCREEN COUPLE
Loving
BEST FEMALE ACTION HERO
The women of Ghostbusters

Here Are The Nominations For The 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards!


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The Broadcast Film Critics Association have announced their nominees for the 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards and here they are!  Once again, in a pattern that will probably see repeated several times of this next month, the nominations were dominated by Moonlight, La La Land, and Manchester By The Sea.

FILM NOMINATIONS FOR THE 22ND ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS

BEST PICTURE

BEST ACTOR

BEST ACTRESS

  • Amy Adams – Arrival
  • Annette Bening – 20th Century Women
  • Isabelle Huppert – Elle
  • Ruth Negga – Loving
  • Natalie Portman – Jackie
  • Emma Stone – La La Land

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Viola Davis – Fences
  • Greta Gerwig – 20th Century Women
  • Naomie Harris – Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman – Lion
  • Janelle Monáe  – Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS

  • Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
  • Alex R. Hibbert – Moonlight
  • Lewis MacDougall – A Monster Calls
  • Madina Nalwanga – Queen of Katwe
  • Sunny Pawar – Lion
  • Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE

BEST DIRECTOR

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Damien Chazelle – La La Land
  • Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
  • Yorgos Lanthimos/Efthimis Filippou – The Lobster
  • Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
  • Jeff Nichols – Loving
  • Taylor Sheridan – Hell or High Water

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Luke Davies – Lion
  • Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals
  • Eric Heisserer – Arrival
  • Todd Komarnicki – Sully
  • Allison Schroeder/Theodore Melfi – Hidden Figures
  • August Wilson – Fences

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Stéphane Fontaine – Jackie
  • James Laxton – Moonlight
  • Seamus McGarvey – Nocturnal Animals
  • Linus Sandgren – La La Land
  • Bradford Young – Arrival

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • Arrival – Patrice Vermette, Paul Hotte/André Valade
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Stuart Craig/James Hambidge, Anna Pinnock
  • Jackie – Jean Rabasse, Véronique Melery
  • La La Land – David Wasco, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
  • Live by Night – Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh

BEST EDITING

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • Colleen Atwood – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Consolata Boyle – Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Madeline Fontaine – Jackie
  • Joanna Johnston – Allied
  • Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh – Love & Friendship
  • Mary Zophres – La La Land

BEST HAIR & MAKEUP

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

BEST ACTION MOVIE

BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION MOVIE

BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION MOVIE

BEST COMEDY

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY

  • Ryan Gosling – The Nice Guys
  • Hugh Grant – Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Dwayne Johnson – Central Intelligence
  • Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
  • Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

  • Kate Beckinsale – Love & Friendship
  • Sally Field – Hello, My Name Is Doris
  • Kate McKinnon – Ghostbusters
  • Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen
  • Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

BEST SCI-FI/HORROR MOVIE

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • Elle
  • The Handmaiden
  • Julieta
  • Neruda
  • The Salesman
  • Toni Erdmann

BEST SONG

  • Audition (The Fools Who Dream) – La La Land
  • Can’t Stop the Feeling – Trolls
  • City of Stars – La La Land
  • Drive It Like You Stole It – Sing Street
  • How Far I’ll Go – Moana
  • The Rules Don’t Apply – Rules Don’t Apply

BEST SCORE

  • Nicholas Britell – Moonlight
  • Jóhann Jóhannsson – Arrival
  • Justin Hurwitz – La La Land
  • Micachu – Jackie
  • Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka – Lion

Deadpool

Film Review: Ghostbusters (dir by Paul Feig)


Ghostbusters

If you need any further proof that 2016 is a screwed-up year, just consider the fact that Ghostbusters, an entertaining but ultimately rather mild-mannered and innocuous summer action/comedy, has become the center of one of the biggest controversies of the year.

It all started, of course, when the reboot was first announced.  Fanboys reacted with outrage, offended that Hollywood would even consider remaking a film that was apparently one of the defining moments of their childhood.  Then, it was announced that Ghostbusters would feature an all-female cast and it would be directed by Paul Feig, the director of Bridesmaids.  The howls of outrage grew even louder.  Then that infamous trailer was released and even I felt that trailer sucked.  I wasn not alone because the trailer quickly became one of the most disliked videos in the history of YouTube.  Reading the comments underneath that trailer was literally like finding yourself trapped in a production of Marat/Sade.

Suddenly, in the eyes of very vocal group of internet trolls, the reboot of Ghostbusters went from being simply another dubious idea to being a crime against humanity.  And the trolls were so obnoxious that they managed to turn this big-budget, studio-backed production into an underdog.  Here was a movie directed by one of Hollywood’s biggest directors and starring some of Hollywood’s hottest stars and suddenly, it had become David in a biblical showdown with the Goliaths of internet.

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And then it happened.  Earlier last week, Ghostbusters was finally screened for critics.  The first reviews started to come in and they were surprisingly positive.  In fact, they were so positive that I found myself distrusting them.  I found myself wondering if critics were reacting to the film or if they were simply trying to prove that they were better than the trolls who leave obscene comments on YouTube.

Which was true, I wondered.  Was Ghostbusters the worst film ever made or was it the greatest?  Or was it perhaps just possible that Ghostbusters would turn out to be a typical summer film?

With all the controversy, it’s tempting to overpraise a film like Ghostbusters.  Battle lines have been drawn and sometimes, I feel as if I’m being told that failing to declare Ghostbusters to be the greatest and most important comedy of all time is the equivalent of letting the trolls win.

Well, that’s not true.  Ghostbusters is not the greatest or the most important comedy of all time but you know what?  Ghostbusters is good.  Ghostbusters is entertaining.  Especially during the first half, it’s full of laugh out loud moments.  At times, Ghostbusters is everything that you could hope for.

No, it’s not a perfect film.  Paul Feig is a great comedy director but, in this film at least, his direction of the big action sequences often feels uninspired (especially when compared to his previous work on Spy).  The final fourth of the film gets bogged down in CGI and the film goes from being a clever comedy to being just another summer spectacle.  Even the one-liners, which flowed so naturally at the start of the film, feel forced during the final half of the film.  Ghostbusters is good but it never quite becomes great.

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Here’s what did work: the cast.  As he previously proved with Bridesmaids, Paul Feig is a director who is uniquely skilled at creating and showcasing a strong comedic ensemble.  Kristen Wiig plays Erin Gilbert, who is denied tenure at Columbia when it is discovered that a book she wrote on the paranormal has been republished and is being sold, on Amazon, by her former best friend, Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy).  When Erin goes to confront Abby, she not only meets Abby’s newest colleague, Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) but she also gets dragged into investigating an actual case of paranormal activity..  Soon, Erin, Abby, and Holtzmann are investigating hauntings and capturing ghosts, all with the secret approval of the Mayor of New York (Andy Garcia).  Of course, for PR reasons, the mayor’s office has to continually disavow the Ghostbusters and occasionally have them arrested.  Working alongside the three scientists are Patty (Leslie Jones), who apparently knows the history of every building in New York, and Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), their adorably stupid receptionist.

As written, both Patty and Kevin are fairly thin characters.  Kevin’s the handsome dumb guy.  Patty is streetwise and sassy.  But both Hemsworth and Jones give such enthusiastic and sincere performances that they transcend the stereotypical nature of their roles.  At times, Kevin runs the risk of becoming too cartoonish for even a Ghostbusters film.  But if you can’t laugh at Chris Hemsworth explaining that he took the lenses out of his glasses because they were always getting dirty, what can you laugh at?

Erin is an interesting character and Kristen Wiig deserves a lot of credit for her performance.  Erin is actually given a fairly affecting backstory, centering around how she was haunted by the ghost of the old woman who used to live next door to her.  Erin is a former believer, someone who, in order to succeed in the “real” world, gave up her beliefs and conformed to the expectations of society.  When she actually meets a ghost, it’s more than just a confirmation of the supernatural.  It’s a chance for Erin to finally embrace who she truly is and what she truly cares about.  When she and the other ghostbusters chase after evil spirits, Erin is not just doing a job.  Instead, she’s finally found somewhere where she belongs.  She no longer has to pretend to be someone that she isn’t.  Wiig plays the role with just the right touch of neurotic wonder.  She grounds the entire film.

Wiig McKinnon

But the true star of the film is Kate McKinnon.  Whether she’s cheerfully smiling as a ghost vomits all over her colleagues or cheerfully explaining how easily their equipment could kill them all, Holtzmann is the greatest character in the film and McKinnon gives the best performance.  If Wiig grounds the film, McKinnon provides it with a truly demented soul.

The first half of the movie, which focuses on the relationships between the characters and features snappy and endlessly quotable dialogue, is wonderful and I was thrilled while watching it, convinced that the entire movie would be as good as the first hour.  However, the second half of the film gets bogged down in a rather predictable plot and the final action sequences could have just as easily been lifted from Pixels or one of The Avengers movies.  The surviving cast of the original Ghostbusters all show up in cameos that are, at best, inoffensive and, at worst, groan-worthy.  The end result is rather uneven.  If the film had maintained the momentum of that first hour, it would be a classic.  But that second half transforms it into just another entertaining but not quite memorable summer action film.

That said, Paul Feig is an excellent comedy director and let’s hope that he never gets so self-important that he ends up turning into Jay Roach.  Hopefully, if there is a sequel, Feig will return to direct it and Kate McKinnon will have an even bigger role.

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