In 'Ghostbusters,' character comedy is trampled by effects

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

'Ghostbusters' stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon. It's directed by Paul Feig of 'Bridesmaids' and 'Spy.'

Hopper Stone/Sony Pictures/AP
'Ghostbusters' stars (from l.) Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon.

Much has already been written in advance of the opening of “Ghostbusters” about how the film will serve as a referendum on the future success or failure of female-centric Hollywood movies. All I can say is, I certainly hope this dreary, bleary comedy doesn’t end up serving as a referendum on anything. That would be a disservice to women, not to mention movies.

It seemed like a good idea – reboot the “Ghostbusters” franchise with a female cast. The cast was promising, too – Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. But, as is so often the case with special-effects-heavy movies, the character comedy quickly gets trampled by the effects (in this case, not special).

The film’s ineptitude, courtesy of director Paul Feig, extends to the actresses themselves, most of whom have been far funnier. Or not. McCarthy’s welcome wore out for me some time ago; the slapstick raunch and the hollering have become tiresome schtick. Wiig, like so many "Saturday Night Live" performers (most conspicuously Tina Fey), doesn’t retain on the big screen the sass and wigginess (pun intended) she exhibited on the small screen.

Leslie Jones, of "SNL," is stuck playing the soul sister part, but she has a few funny freestyle moments, as does McKinnon. Chris Hemsworth, playing the women’s assistant, plays a hunky airhead and seems to be in the movie only to provide some counterprogramming. He’s the male bimbo – a sex role-reversal joke that never takes off. The whole movie never takes off. Grade: D (Rated PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor.)

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