After months of controversy, outrage, and eager anticipation, reviews of Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters remake are finally out in advance of the film’s theatrical release this Friday. Despite the many heated Twitter debates and Reddit threads to precede the film’s premiere, the consensus—that Feig has delivered a mildly funny, mostly effective reboot of the beloved comic franchise—seems to place this Ghostbusters squarely in the category of harmless studio product. And while critics don’t necessarily agree about whether that makes it worth seeing, most seem to be in relative alignment on the movie’s biggest strengths and weaknesses.
Here’s a roundup of what critics had to say about the new Ghostbusters.
Kate McKinnon is the standout.
No one performance dominates the new Ghostbusters, which is for the most part democratically comic (a Paul Feig signature), although Kate McKinnon’s magnificent, eccentric turn comes close.
McKinnon provides another reminder that she’s one of the funniest people in America, and her quirky, gadget-obsessed steampunk character owns every moment she’s in frame (and, deserves a spin-off).
My favorite performance in the film is, easily, Kate McKinnon as Holtzmann. She’s absolutely exceptional here, and I feel like I only saw about half of what she did. Whether she’s the focus of a scene or lurking at the edge of the frame, she is constantly stealing scenes from almost everyone.
It’s Kate McKinnon’s rascally, plastic-goggled Holtzmann—loosely based on Harold Ramis’s geeky spore collector—who absolutely steals the movie in a turn that might remind you of Val Kilmer’s space cadet in Real Genius (it’s even better).
But the chemistry of the ensemble is the movie’s strongest selling point.
From the moment they all cram into a room together—this time above a Chinese restaurant, versus the original’s abandoned firehall—it’s comedic gold.
… this is a four-woman show, deftly managed to allow all the leads—McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones—a chance to showcase their own distinct brands of comedy.
Led by the warm chemistry of stars Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, this new film follows in the footsteps of Feig’s earlier work (most notably Bridesmaids and Spy) by doing a giddy gender switch on a typical male-dominated genre.
The ghosts are beautifully imagined.
In one of the most stunning moments, the women face down a phalanx of sinister vintage Macy’s Parade balloons—floating along, they’re a kiddie nightmare come to life, glowing and gorgeous even as they advance with menacing intent. Their macabre beauty stops the movie for a moment.
… it’s all slickly rendered by the visual effects team.
The ghosts themselves [are] gorgeous, CGI-embellished, neon-glowing wraiths with real presence and unexpected shriek-then-laugh shock value …
Given the talent assembled, it could be funnier.
This new version of Ghostbusters will rarely make one bowl over with laughter …
With a cast as daring and quick as this one, Ghostbusters is too mild and plays it too safe.
… the big laughs you’d expect from a Bridesmaids reunion of director Paul Feig and stars Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy never materialize.
… the main performers rarely get to display their individual idiosyncratic strengths. It’s particularly dispiriting to hear McCarthy, one of the most floridly gifted verbal riffers in comedy, have to utter frat-brah catchphrases like “Let’s do this.”
Aside from its gender-flipped casting, the movie feels a little too familiar.
Not even the funniest actors on the planet could save what is an occasionally humorous, but largely unremarkable rehash.
While both funnier and scarier than Ivan Reitman’s 1984 original, this otherwise over-familiar remake from Bridesmaids director Paul Feig doesn’t do nearly enough to innovate on what has come before.
It’s all busy-ness, noise and chaos, with zero thrills and very little sustainable comic buoyancy.