Movie Review: Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016)

ghostbusters-poster-final-405x600Despite being loosely based on a tale told better more than three decades ago, Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (B-) doesn’t necessarily lack for ideas. In fact, this all-female makeover of the let’s-capture-ghosts-run-amok-in-Manhattan story is a whirling dervish of special effects and fun gadgetry evoking a mash-up of a haunted Disney dark ride, Q’s invention laboratory and a whack-a-mole carnival gone mad with technicolor Pokemon-style gymnastics. As summer escapist fare, it’s a loud and overstuffed adventure with primary charms provided by Kate McKinnon who, armed with an occasional quip or queef for comic relief, is a welcome Willy Wonka type character entry into the franchise’s pantheon. It’s a bit like she’s working in another dimension from the other collaborators. The film’s biggest disappointments include squandering the talents of Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy with rather bland roles, relying too heavily on throwback cameos that distract from forward momentum and unspooling lame and labored origin story elements. Once the action gets underway, however, the frantic pace glosses over many of the sins of the so-so screenplay. Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth are solid in supporting roles, and New York itself – in both a modern and retro dual universe – provides a pleasurable playground of practical effects for spectral warfare. The film rarely crosses the expected streams into the suck, and it’s still a rush to watch a ghost get boxed. This movie is strictly for your inner 13 year old, and the mostly fulfilled “girl power” promised by this reimagining gives enough reason to not give up the ghost.

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I've reviewed films for more than 20 years. Current movie reviews of new theatrical releases and direct-to-video or streaming films are added weekly to the Silver Screen Capture movie news site. Many capsule critiques originally appeared in expanded form in my syndicated Lights Camera Reaction column.

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Posted in 2016, Rent It Tonight
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  1. […] Roger Ebert famously suggested that Tom Hanks and John Candy, who played brothers in the 1984 man-meets-mermaid film Splash should have switched roles. The critic thought Ron Howard’s comedy might have been even funnier with the portly actor as protagonist in the fish-out-of-water flick. Daryl Hannah played the mermaid in a role that launched her career. But now in a casting coup that nobody saw coming, Disney is remaking Splash, and the mermaid will be played by none other than Channing Tatum, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Will the charismatic leading man have another Magic Mike hit on his hands or another Jupiter Ascending? Tatum will play a “merman” opposite Jillian Bell, who co-starred with him in 22 Jump Street. The story, if you recall, involves a youngster saved by a mermaid on a family vacation. The mermaid returns 20 years later with the intriguing option of continuing life on land or a love affair under the sea. The 1984 film was actually nominated for an Academy Award for best original screenplay. The remake’s screenwriter Marja-Lewis Ryan, is responsible for the HBO pilot Unsupervised and a Netflix film 6 Balloons. She has also adapted Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg’s book, for a film. No director is attached to the film yet. The first Splash was the first movie under the Touchstone Films label for Disney, teasing a more adult-friendly line of comedies that ultimately included a variety of iconic 1980’s comedies such as Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Ruthless People and Outrageous Fortune. Expect the new film – also produced by Disney and Ron Howard’s Imagine Films – in 2017 or 2018. Tatum first has to wrap filming Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky and the long-gestating Gambit and face what will most assuredly not be the same reverse-gender casting controversies that plagued the new Ghostbusters. […]

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