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Ghostbusters (4 stars)

Paul Feig answers the sceptics in style with this funny and touching reboot

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Ghostbusters

Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig turn in suitably spirited performances in this reboot of the beloved 1984 comedy that sticks two fingers up at sexist internet trolls. Yet, writer-director Paul Feig and co-scribe Katie Dippold’s decision to pay extreme fan service to the original means the lively momentum is occasionally interrupted and the film runs a little long. The best nods are the subtle ones, such as a bust of Egon Spengler (dear, departed Harold Ramis) neatly placed in a university hallway.

Physicist Erin (Wiig) is attempting to get tenure; however, when she discovers her estranged high school pal and paranormal expert Abby (McCarthy) has secretly been selling their book about ghosts (a picture of the two of them on the back cover recalls a Simon & Garfunkel album cover) online without her permission, Erin heads over to her former friend’s laboratory determined to protect her reputation.

Instead she ends up tagging along to a ghost hunt at a haunted mansion with Abby and her eccentric engineer Jillian (McKinnon, putting as much oomph and swagger into her role as she does her hilarious Saturday Night Live characters) and the trio decide to set up shop together after getting fired for their behaviour. Transit worker Patty (Jones) turns up at their HQ above a Chinese restaurant after a terrifying ghostly encounter and joins the squad, while Chris Hemsworth completes the gang as a dumb, hipster secretary who loves to play hide and seek.

The VFX team does wonders with the CG apparitions and newfangled ghostbustin’ gadgets. They conjure up truly spooky imagery, some of which recalls John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China, and Feig delivers a decent mix of scary thrills and giggles, all grounded by the credible camaraderie between the four women. The emphasis on the friendship between Abby and Erin does leave the other characters less shaded in but there’s something quite touching about their outsider backstories, with the moments of bonding bringing to mind Feig’s early work on cult TV show Freaks and Geeks.

General release from Mon 11 Jul.

Ghostbusters

  • 4 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 116 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Paul Feig
  • Cast: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon
  • UK release: 11 July 2016

Physicist Erin (Wiig) finds herself teaming up with estranged high school pal Abby (McCarthy) and her eccentric engineer Jillian (McKinnon) in search of ghosts. Marred only by excessive reverence for the original, it's a spirited, funny and touching reboot which sticks two fingers up at sexist trolls.

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