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‘Ghostbusters’ Crosses Safe Space Streams

That’s hardly praise. The new film features a meandering story, a crush of stale one liners and several lame set pieces.

What it offers? Duel victimization storylines ripped from today’s snowflake-encrusted headlines. Our heroines feel used, abused and neglected.

Then again, so does the bad guy.

Compare that to the 1984 original. The classic comedy embraced capitalism while mocking bureaucrats.

We haven’t come a long way, baby.

A crisp opening sequence, which offers the story’s only creepy vibes, suggests ghosts are once more running wild in New York City.

We then meet Ellen (Kristen Wiig), an academic ashamed of her past work studying the paranormal. A long-ago book project resurfaces, reuniting her with co-author Abby (a restrained Melissa McCarthy). They’re frenemies now, although Ellen isn’t sure what to make of Abby’s new lab partner Liz (Kate McKinnon). The trio mend fences well enough to investigate the opening scene’s fallout.

RELATED: ‘Ghostbusters’ Director Demands Gender-Balanced Casts

They eventually team up with Patty (Leslie Jones), a brash transit worker who knows the Big Apple better than anyone.

Together, they’ll face the man bringing ghosts back to the Big Apple. He’s a hopelessly drab baddie played by Neil Casey. The poor gent suffered from bullying as a lad. Now, he wants to teach humanity a lesson.

Maybe he just needs a hug.

FAST FACT: Kate McKinnon joined the cast of Logo’s “Big Gay Sketch Show” by surviving a grueling audition process including “thousands” of wannabe sketch players.

The “lady” ghostbusters, in turn, feel put upon in some way. They’re professional victims, beaten down by society. Their bosses tut-tut at their clothes. The Mayor (Andy Garcia) wants to keep their heroics quiet.

Self doubt haunts them at every step. They have chips on their shoulders bigger than the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

“Ghostbusters” moves with little sense of purpose or pacing. We spend so much time with the budding team we endure McKinnon mugging her way through a nonsensical dance sequence.

That’s a mixed blessing. The film’s best laughs — and none are big or memorable — come from their cheery banter. Still, that aforementioned chip looms. Director Paul Feig stages not one but two references to the project’s online “haters.”

Hey, ladies. Pick up a thicker skin while you’re shopping for new proton packs.

RELATED: Four Ways to Revive ‘SNL’

The script, alternately witty and moronic, keeps tossing out insults to the foursome.

“You shoot like girls,” for example. It’s as if they’d rather be hunkered down in a safe space than busting ghosts.

Other lines feel moldier than cheese left over from the 1984 film’s catering truck. Take this sad attempt at a catch phrase: “you’ve been Holtzmanned,” after Liz’s last name.

And then there are the cameos. Most stop the movie cold, although Dan Aykroyd’s moment is sweet in all the right ways. That’s mostly true for Annie Potts’ moment, too.

The same can’t be said for Bill Murray’s turn.

Bill Murray’s cameo is either the worst screen clip of his majestic career or proof he wanted no part of any new “Ghostbusters” project. It didn’t matter which bathroom the film’s stars chose.

ghostbusters-chris-hemsworth-safe-space

Chris Hemsworth is called upon for both a sizable plot point and the gender-reversing eye candy. He nails the latter, taking over for Potts’ receptionist character. His dim-bulb shtick grows old within seconds, alas.

We’ve been told over and again that young girls need an all-female “Ghostbusters” to feel good about themselves. The movie’s early scenes feature a fart joke, and then a gag involving gas emitting from the “other side” of a woman. Thankfully, Feig and co. put the brakes down on the potty humor from there.

For a movie obsessed with empowerment and settling scores, it features some oddly antiquated gags. How should we process the heavyset Abby battling with a delivery person over her Chinese food orders? What about how Wiig’s Erin drools over Hemsworth in every other scene?

We shouldn’t notice these slights. It’s just comedy. But the PC Police would slap the cuffs on us if we didn’t.

ghostbusters-kristen-wiig-ghost-

Wiig is always funny, and she’s no different here. McCarthy, even subdued, can pick a punch line out of a slapdash script. But McKinnon, the film’s real live wire, is a revelation.

Her Hillary Clinton impression on “Saturday Night Live” may be sharp., but who knew she could steal scenes with a grin or hand flick? Put her in a sharply written comedy, and she’s our next big movie star

And then there’s Jones, pummeling the same note for the film’s running time. She isn’t helped by the script, which saves nearly all the worst lines for her to rescue.

She doesn’t. Who could?

“Ghostbusters” certainly isn’t as awful as its DOA trailer. Nor will it push the original film out of its cozy spot in pop culture lore.

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24 Comments

  1. I haven’t seen the film and almost certainly won’t, but I can make some predictions that I bet are at least 95% correct. First, part of the charm of the first film is that it was willing to show the stars as essentially decent, but bumbling, scheming and a bit smarmy. Bill Murray’s character is compared to a gameshow host and the comparison is apt. They make more mistakes than they should and, while loveable, they are clearly on the make. I bet that this is not in the remake–I am sure that the female Ghostbusters are more intelligent, moral and civic-minded. I am also sure that there is little of the self-deprecating humor of the original. No, I bet these gals are just plain better than the guys in the original because…uh…self-empowerment! Bah.

  2. “Ghostbusters” certainly isn’t as awful as its DOA trailer.
    Well, there’s same damning with faint praise. Nothing could be as bad as that trailer– a fan did a revision of it that was actually pretty good (less talk, more action, show the concept vice talk the audience through it).

  3. “Her Hillary Clinton impression on ‘Saturday Night Live’ may be sharp” – hey, let’s not depart Earth. She makes no attempt at the Hillary voice. At least when she did Greta Van Susteren she was trying to talk like someone other than herself. You want a great SNL impression? Check out Aykroyd doing Bob Dole.

  4. It would not surprise me if Republicans were sitting outside theaters the same way they harass abortion clinics on a daily basis in order to keep women down. I have no doubt this movie is way better than the hyper masculine original whose jokes against women, minorities, and gays are shameful and, frankly, should result in that and other movies being banned once and for all.

    1. Is this a joke? Republicans don’t protest (like Charlie don’t surf). No abortion clinics have daily harassers. No one wants to “keep women down” (WTF does that mean?). We Christians certainly object to killing kids because it’s, you know, killing kids. I don’t remember the first movie(s) having jokes against women, minorities and gays. Any specifics to back up your claim?

      1. You mean other than the Republicans’ 150 year history of using slavery and Jim Crow for political advantage, and long history of oppressing gays and denying AIDS funding in the hopes gays would die, and the Republicans vehement opposition to women;s suffrage?

        1. You misspelled “Democrat.”

          Seriously, you do know that the Democrats were the party of slavery and Jim Crow, right? And Democratic President Woodrow Wilson was a chief opponent of the suffrage movement.

          1. bggatbdl’s obviously just being funny, switching Republican with Democrat.
            Even the stupidest of progressives know that the Democrats were the party of slavery, anti-miscegenation laws, Jim Crow, opposition to women’s suffrage and that Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage act.

          2. Actually, the Republicans were the Congressional driving force BEHIND the Civil Rights Act, and the Dems had to be dragged into supporting it–and many, including Al Gore’s father, didn’t. Barry Goldwater opposed it ONLY because he didn’t feel the federal government had the authority to tell businesses what they should or shouldn’t be doing. But back in the 1950s, it was Goldwater who fought for the Civil Rights Acts (which included public school reform and getting rid of Jim Crow)…which were then defeated by the then-Senate-majority-leader.
            That rotten, anti-Civil-Rights-Act senator’s name?
            LYDON B. JOHNSON

        2. When you see Mr. Spock, does he have a beard? Republicans ended slavery and put former slaves into elected offices and government posts. The KKK and Jim Crow were all part of the Democratic party. Most southern states still don’t have local Republican office holders. Republicans only exist in state-wide offices. I don’t know about women’s sufferage, but Reagan was the first to fund AIDS research and GW Bush was the first to send AIDS help to Africa. Having no knowledge of history doesn’t allow you to simply make it up.

        3. I hate when I encounter someone so ignorant, that i am forced to go to the trouble of logging in, just to make them aware of it!
          Buffoon.
          Try reading, it’ll make you look less stupid.

  5. The original was something I showed to a Chinese exchange student as “a classic American comedy”. I’ll be surprised if this even turns up in a Beijing pirate’s stand.

      1. Ah I see. They dabble in illiteracy to appeal to morons like you. Didn’t realize it was geared toward the brainless. Good to know!

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