Ghostbusters reboot scares up very few laughs or thrills

Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wigg, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. Directed by Paul Feig. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13.
Rated 1.0

I was not expecting anything near the brilliance or originality of the 1984 original Ghostbusters from this reboot/remake/whatever-you-want-to-call-it entry into a movie franchise that has remained dormant since the miserable 1989 sequel, Ghostbusters II. Considering the quality cast that director Paul Feig assembled (Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones), I did expect to have a good time.

That didn’t happen. I was bored. Super bored. I laughed a total of 2 1/2 times at the new Ghostbusters, not once due to anything the headlining stars did. It’s as if Feig figured, “Hey, I have these stars and a big budget for special effects. I don’t really need a funny script, do I? These stars can just stand in front of a camera and be funny, right?”

Perhaps they can, but not this time out. Ghostbusters 2016 is a stale facsimile of the original. If you watched those lousy preview trailers and worried that the franchise was creatively bankrupt, know that the stupid jokes in that trailer (“Ow, that’s gonna leave a mark!”) are about the best the film has to offer. I was really annoyed with the haters who judged this movie by those trailers before they saw the completed project. Sadly, I have now joined that camp, because I really hated this movie.

The normally reliable Wiig, as the sensible scientist, basically stands around looking lost. Comedic firecracker McCarthy, as the trailblazer scientist of the group, bumbles her way through her role with a smile but no material. My current favorite Saturday Night Live star, McKinnon, as the brainy yet eccentric science wiz, is allowed to mug like a crack addict on an NYC subway full of inebriated, unarmed billionaires. Jones, as the street smart Ghostbuster with no science chops, seems to equate volume with humor. She’s just loud.

After a promising start featuring Zach Woods, Ed Begley Jr. and a haunted house, the plot switches to a geek (Neil Casey) looking to cause a ghost apocalypse in Manhattan. He plants traps around the city to attract paranormal activity, perhaps because he’s lonely. Then the new Ghostbusters band together to conquer the geek and save the city.

The CGI ghosts are dull, fluorescent things bolstered slightly by some decent 3-D effects. In one of the only real compliments I can bestow upon the film, the folks putting together some of the 3-D action did a pretty good job. There are moments where elements seem to come out of the movie frame and suspend in the air in front of you. Those moments won’t make you laugh, but they might wake you up a little.

Andy Garcia as the New York mayor made me laugh … once. Begley Jr. as a paranormal enthusiast made me laugh … once. Chris Hemsworth as a brain-dead receptionist almost made me laugh once, but it was more like a chortle. That’s it for the laugh count.

Stars from the original—Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver—make useless, remarkably lame cameos. The late Harold Ramis (sort of) makes an appearance as well in one of the movie’s few inspired moments.

So far, this summer has blown it with blockbusters (see also: Batman v. Superman, Spielberg’s BFG and Independence Day: Resurgence). Will this weekend’s Star Trek Beyond give the summer the fun boost it needs? It’s probably too late, and more than likely 2016 can’t be redeemed at the cinema.