Is it hyperbole to say that from the moment you see Zach Woods’ face you know Ghostbusters is, and always was in a safe pair of hands when it comes to director Paul Feig? Maybe. But the controversial reboot (remake? Sequel? Who knows really, and who cares), uses to its advantage not only its main cast of four excellent comedians, but also superbly well-cast bit parts and cameos from not just the original film, but also some of the best sitcoms currently on TV.
That’s not to say the main cast is outshone, however – this isn’t Zoolander 2 (thank god) – just that the film has been very well cast from Melissa McCarthy as de facto leader Abby to Matt Walsh as an ineffectual yet officious FBI agent who wouldn’t know what to do if a ghost stopped him in the street and asked him directions to the closest ghost-riot. McCarthy plays a character fans of Gilmore Girls will be familiar with from her role as Sookie St James in the much loved TV show (maybe she used this role as practice before getting back into the swing of things as Sookie in the reboot?). She’s charming, passionate, and dry in equal measure with just the right amount of mania creeping in when things get really heated. Meanwhile, Kristen Wiig seems to be playing a character she’s been playing a lot of recently and while every comedy needs a straight woman it will be a shame if we keep seeing her repeatedly cast in these roles.
Abby and Erin (Wiig) are the scientists, who at the beginning of the film have suffered a personal and professional schism, leaving Wiig working towards tenure at Columbia University while Abby continues the research into the supernatural the duo initially started together. Working with Abby is Holtzmann, a genius engineer weirdo played with such delight by Kate McKinnon that she effectively steals every scene she’s in. They’re later joined by Patty (Leslie Jones an SNL star; it’s worth noting that Wiig, McKinnon and Jones are all SNL alum so, y’know; they’re funny), a disgruntled MTA worker who knows everything there is to know about New York’s weird and wonderful history and is clearly bored enough to join up with a group of women purporting to be ghost hunters. Rounding out the team is Chris Hemsworth as beautiful idiot Kevin, better known as Thor from those Marvel movies or, if you’re really cool, Kim from Home & Away.
Hemsworth is great as the dumb yet enthusiastic secretary, described in one scene as a ‘Clark Kent stripogram’, who wears glasses that not only aren’t prescription, but don’t even have lenses (that way they don’t get dirty, see). And yet there are any number of Hollywood actors out there who are just as easy to imagine playing this role, and playing it well (Channing Tatum or Ryan Reynolds would be at the top of that list). That’s not to say Hemsworth doesn’t bring anything to the table – he really, really does – more that it’s genuinely refreshing to see this kind of role going to a man rather than a woman (“woman enters, she is tall, blonde yet has the vague aura of a librarian. But sexy. A sexy librarian.”).
In fact, despite the controversy, despite the wave of nostalgia the film is surfing, despite even the weird Pringles product placement (why does product placement always feel so forced? Why?), Ghostbusters itself feels genuinely refreshing throughout. Maybe enough time has passed for a reboot, or maybe it’s that so many summer blockbusters these days feel bloated and almost distractingly hard to follow. Ghostbusters is neither of these things. Instead what it is, is fun. It is family fun with a heart of gold and a bucket load of slime. And what on earth could anyone in their right mind have against that?