When the new Ghostbusters movie was announced, it didn't take long for internet trolls to lament that their beloved franchise would be ruined by a quartet of female comedians.
But the reviews for the gender-bent reboot, released on Sunday morning, show that the all-female cast is hardly the problem. In fact, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, and the chemistry that ties them together, save the movie, the majority of early reviews agree. As the New York Times' Manohla Dargis put it: "Girls rule, women are funny, get over it."
The problem, rather, lies with director Paul Feig, the takes largely agree. Variety's Peter Debruge took issue with the fact that the film, which he called "both funnier and scarier" than the 1984 original, was haunted too much by its predecessor. Cameos from franchise past, he said, "undercut the new film's chemistry."
"Is the new Ghostbusters funny? The answer is: Kind of, but not nearly to the degree it should be considering the talent involved," said Entertainment Weekly's Chris Nashawaty, who handed the comedy a C+. "The laughs don't pile up as high as you'd expect," he said, but he praised the cast's chemistry.
Indeed, Scott Mendelson of Forbes came to a similar conclusion: "Thanks to some choppy plotting, awkward pacing and tonal issues, the film rests almost entirely on the shoulders of its would-be heroines."
"Don't expect much more than a paint-by-the-numbers Ghostbusters reboot," he went on.
"Ghostbusters is a comedy first, and for all that haters blasted the movie for starring four women, it's actually director Paul Feig who doesn't seem like he's the right fit for the series."
Terri Schwartz of IGN called the film "just fine, though not for the reasons many would expect." She, like other critics, singled out the cast, namely Wiig and McCarthy's chemistry as their friendship grounds the movie. "Unfortunately, it's the pacing and editing that is the biggest problem with the movie," she concluded. "Ghostbusters is a comedy first, and for all that haters blasted the movie for starring four women, it's actually director Paul Feig who doesn't seem like he's the right fit for the series."
The Daily Beast's Jen Yamato laid similar praise on the cast, especially McKinnon, who she said stole the show. "Unfortunately Ghostbusters also comes saddled with the trappings of 21st century studio filmmaking: lulls in pacing, kiddie-safe comedy, choppy editing, and the general sense that a sharper, ballsier version exists in an alternate Hollywood universe," she added. The stars, however, "plant their own flag on a beloved sci-fi comedy franchise - even if it'll still take a miracle from beyond to convert the hypercritical haters."
Indiewire's Eric Kohn granted that the screenplay, written by Feig and The Heat's Katie Dippold, "offers plenty of charming bits and throwaway lines." "But these can't save the movie from a preponderance of awkward gags that wear thin and then thinner, capped by an effect-riddled third act without fresh thrills," he wrote.
Still, for those looking for shameless summer fun, Ghostbusters seems like a good place to start. "The new, cheerfully silly Ghostbusters is that rarest of big-studio offerings - a movie that is a lot of enjoyable, disposable fun," said Dargis.
Ghostbusters hits Australian cinemas on July 14.