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Movie Review

Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates used to be the best of chums. In their college years, they were both sorta science geek outcasts. But then they found each other and realized they shared a mutual intrigue for all things ghostly, and a solid friendship was born.

Why, they even wrote a book together packed with all their cerebral, spooky suppositions. But eventually they graduated and went their separate ways.

Until, that is, their book unexpectedly pulls them back together.

Erin, you see, is now working at a prestigious university. And out of nowhere, someone shows up jabbering about ghosts and clutching that book. Even though Erin was sure she had personally burned the only copies ever printed, she soon discovers Abby hasn't been so willing to part with their co-written, creep-centered creation. In fact, she's still knee deep in the ectoplasm of her own paranormal research and using the book to help finance her work.

Talk about horrors! Erin quickly realizes that if her university's administrator ever laid eyes on that silly publication with her name on it, well, her hopes of academic tenure would evaporate like the spectral spookies speculated about within its pages.

It's pretty clear where this is going: Erin and Abby reunite, Erin gets pulled into one of Abby's poltergeist projects, and before you can say, "It slimed me!" Erin has lost her career in academia.

But all is not lost.

Turns out there have been a lot of weird happenings popping up in the Big Apple as of late. So it might just be time for some old-school chums to collaborate once more. If they were to gather together the right teammates—say, a slightly crazed physicist-inventor named Holtzmann and a city-savvy transit worker named Patty—why, they might just be able to make a living and help all of mankind.

The local authorities may not like the idea of a group of geared-up gals schlepping about town scooping up said specters. Then again, there's some worrisome wraith work going on in the city that can't be swept under a political rug or shuffled out of the public eye.

So when an apparitional apocalypse of sorts commences, with thousands of devious demons descending upon Times Square, well, who ya gonna call?

Positive Elements

The newly formed Ghostbusters certainly stand by each other as poltergeist-battling comrades who become good friends, too. In fact, by adventure's end, the quirky Holtzmann eloquently expresses her affection and appreciation for her teammates. The members of the quartet also put their lives on the line for each other in the heat of ghost attacks. Erin even wraps a cable around herself and leaps into a hellish netherworld to save her friend Abby.

Spiritual Content

This Ghostbusters reboot delivers a spirit-filled romp through Manhattan—but hardly in the way Christians usually use that phrase. While entities float, fly and flop about left and right here, there's virtually zero consideration of this spiritual plane of existence from anything resembling a Christian worldview. Instead, the flick tosses viewers head-first into twisted pseudoscience and paranormal phenomena. It's a realm chock-full of demons and spooks, but God never meaningfully factors into the conversation.

The Ghostbusters battle ghoulies and apparitions that range from fantastic entities such as the blobbish food-gobbler Slimer (and his female squeeze) to a street full of ghostly historical figures and formerly executed prisoners who appear to be the resurrected spirits of people who've died. There's a winged demon in the mix, too.

The Ghostbusters' male receptionist, Kevin, gets possessed by the spirit of a maniacal guy named Rowan who purposely electrocuted himself in order to cross over to the spiritual realm and gain fantastic power. Abby is temporarily possessed by him, too, until Patty slaps the evil spirit out of her saying, "H---no! The devil is a liar!"

Rowan repeatedly mentions his earnest desire to see the corrupted city "cleansed" by a paranormal apocalypse. To accomplish that goal, he supernaturally opens a vortex to a demonic netherworld through use of "spiritual ley lines"

Glowing ectoplasm spews from multiple sources and seeps out of the ground. At one point, a heavy metal singer brags that his music has summoned "Satan himself." A nuclear-like explosion ultimately clears all the spooky mess up, instead of a genuine spiritual remedy such as faith or prayer.

A clogged toilet is said to be "biblically bad"

Sexual Content

Holtzmann seemingly winks and flirts with Erin when they first meet. And when Erin first encounters the simple-but-attractive Kevin, she immediately crushes on him and repeatedly moves to touch or be near him. (She even attempts to drink coffee he's spit back out). Kevin designs a logo for the female Ghostbusters that features a ghost with "boobs." Twice, we see pictures of him with his shirt off.

Violent Content

Spooky, cartoony—but sometimes still deadly—violence abounds as glowing ghosties lob people around and destroy stuff. For instance, a winged apparition scoops up a victim and tosses him through a window, sending him plunging to his death (off camera) in the street below. The Ghostbusters are repeatedly battered about and thumped into walls. Thousands of spiritual entities swirl and smash things in Times Square. A gigantic ghost crushes cars beneath its feet and demolishes skyscrapers.

In turn, the Ghostbusters use various proton-enabled devices—including whip-like proton beams, a demon-chewing shredder, a proton boxing glove and a special grenade—to trap and rip into the swirling ghosts. In many cases, however, those powerful weapons also tear apart buildings and blow up vehicles and city streets as much, if not more so, than the apparitions themselves do. Holtzmann reports that equipment strapped to the top of their vehicle is "the equivalent of a nuke." And they use that equipment to close the gaping spiritual vortex with a massive explosion.

Crude or Profane Language

One s-word, one use of "b--ches" and about half a dozen uses each of "d--n," "h---" and "a--." God's name is misused more than a dozen times and Jesus' name is abused once. We see multiple crude hand gestures.

Drug and Alcohol Content

The Ghostbusters drink beer at a bar. A historical figure reportedly said "God was drunk" when He created the man's daughter. Holtzmann quips, "Am I on crack?" After seeing a demon-like apparition during a concert, Ozzy Osbourne wonders if he's having a drug flashback.

Other Negative Elements

Toilet humor includes gags about gas and other bodily functions. The newly formed Ghostbusters steal equipment from a local college.

Conclusion

Thirty-two years after Ghostbusters first splattered the big screen with green goop, Hollywood (specifically, execs at Sony) has decided it's time for a reboot. Only this time, filmmakers have flipped the casting roles: They've tapped an all-female gaggle of 'busters and put a guy in the role of the objectified "pretty young thing" who's eventually possessed by a malevolent spirit.

Is it all the same? Nah. How could it be? The first flick was a hodgepodge of scripting and improvisation that was pieced together with Frankenstein stitches. And it somehow held up in a goofy, goblin-in-a-blender way. So how could anyone really hope to duplicate that?

This time around, we get a reboot that delivers its own measure of humor. Digital spooks benefit from three decades of effects evolution, of course. Meanwhile, the film's also sprinkled with original-cast cameos and splashed with equal measures of homage, cheeky comedienne chutzpah and ectoplasm.

So will all this new-school 'bustin make us feel good?

Not quite. The fondly remembered 1984 original is actually much rougher around the edges than many of us who saw it back in the day may recall. And this one's got similar problems.

This version avoids the ghostly, hands-on suggestive sexuality of its predecessor. But proton-enabled mayhem abounds—as does a fair bit of foul language and crude toilet gags tossed into the spook-filled script. And, of course, viewers are inundated with an airy, "Ain't dead things a hoot?" take on pseudo-spirituality, one that exchanges a sober, serious understanding of spiritual reality for a silly one.

So in spite of the new Ghostbusters' promises of female-fronted spectral slapstick—not to mention nostalgia about Ray Parker Jr. crooning, "Who ya gonna call?"—the fact is, ghostbusting in any decade is far less kid-friendly than many would have you believe.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

PG-13

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Kristen Wiig as Erin Gilbert; Melissa McCarthy as Abby Yates; Leslie Jones as Patty Tolan; Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann; Chris Hemsworth as Kevin

Director

Paul Feig ( )

Distributor

Sony Pictures

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

July 15, 2016

On Video

October 11, 2016

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

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