Don’t listen to the middle-aged purists who insist this all-female remake is “ruining” their childhoods — they were ruined a long time ago. Instead, consider this new team of paranormal investigators and their proton packs a progressive step in comedy and good ghost hunting role models for your kid. Freaks and Geeks and Bridesmaids director Paul Feig helms the new version with SNL’s Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, and a very un-Thor Chris Hemsworth. It’s time to set aside your own reservations about a Murray-less Ghostbusters and ask the better question, “Is this ‘bustin gonna make me feel good?”
For Kids: Critics have been getting misty-eyed thinking about how this new Ghostbusters will inspire young ladies. “A new generation of kids — girls included this time — are about to learn that busting ghosts is the best job in the world,” says Salt Lake Tribune’s Sean P. Means. Jake Wilson of The Age similarly applauds the strong, smart female characters: “While the dialogue doesn’t labor the point, this is a film about women brought together by a shared intellectual passion, shrugging off the mostly male authority figures who try to put them in their place.” That’s cool, but there are still ghosts in this flick, right? Clarisse Loughrey of the Independent says “The new film’s just as unabashedly goofy as its predecessor; its paranormal aspects still possessing that kind of giddy, carnival-ride spookiness.”
For You: Everyone wants to compare it to the 1984 original. But those that got the whole reboot vs. remake concept were definitely on board. Andrew O’Hehir of Salon calls it “A goofy, free-floating romp with an anarchic spirit of its own; a fresh set of scares and laffs and a moderate dose of girl power that is unlikely to seem confrontational to anyone beyond the most confirmed basement-dwelling Gamergate troll.” Cameron Williams of The Popcorn Junkie agrees, saying “The gender politics of women demanding to be taken seriously in their chosen profession has never been this much fun.” (And you know how hilarious gender politics are.) There’s also no shortage of praise for the 4 leads. Matt Goldberg at Collider says that “Instead of repackaging what we know, we’re lucky enough to get new characters played by talented actors who respect the original but are also brave enough to carve out their own space.”
Common Sense’s Take: Common Sense Media, the leading nonprofit source for helping parents make movie and TV choices for kids, has mostly good things to say about Ghostbusters. They give a thumbs-up for the female empowerment theme, but note that there are a few mildly racy scenes (hey, Chris Hemsworth is a gorgeous man) and scary moments parents might want to be prepared for, particularly when it comes to CG ghosts that are more frightening than Slimer. They also recommend focusing your post-film discussion around how the characters used teamwork and whether it makes a difference when girls or guys bust ghosts.
Bottom Line: Not as iconic as the original Ghostbusters, not as terrible as Ghostbusters 2. As Mike Scott of the Times-Picayune says, “From the very first scene, it is exactly what you’d expect, or want, a Ghostbusters movie to be: fun, scary and silly.”
Rating: PG-13 (for supernatural action and some crude humor)
Running Time: 105 minutes