Rated PG-13 for action and crude humor
Gender-Bent Reboot Of The 1984 Classic Features Four Funny Females
Released way back in the summer of ’84, Ghostbusters raked in almost a quarter-billion dollars at the box office, making it the most successful comedy of the ’80s. Enough time has apparently passed to remake the much-beloved farce, though director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) has seen fit to tweak the plot, starting with changing the gender of the leads from male to female.
Wisely, Feig has not only tapped a quartet of consummate comediennes in Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones but crafted a script which plays to each of their respective strengths. The upshot is a hilarious reboot that pays homage to the first film while remaining refreshingly unique in its own right. Plus, the movie features surprisingly-amusing appearances by original cast members Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts in new roles.
The point of departure is stately Aldridge mansion in Manhattan, where we find a tour guide (Zach Woods) inadvertently releasing the disembodied spirit of Gertrude Aldridge (Bess Rous), a serial killer who had been permanently locked in a dungeon and fed through a slot in the door after killing all of her family servants in 1894. An attack by the evil apparition prompts the slimed victim to enlist the assistance of Abby Yates (McCarthy) and Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon), Professors of the Paranormal at the mythical Higgins Institute of Science.
The eccentric academics are gung ho to explore the haunted house, despite the fact that they have been unable to prove the existence of any apparitions. En route, they pick up Abby’s estranged BFF, relatively-skeptical Columbia Professor Erin Gilbert (Wiig), and Patty Tolan (Jones), a token booth clerk scared by a spook she saw in a subway tunnel.
But the fallout from bad buzz causes all the profs to lose their jobs. Undeterred, they proceed to turn a loft above a Chinese restaurant into a research lab, hire a handsome, half-witted secretary (Chris Hemsworth) and convert a hearse borrowed from sassy Patty’s mortician uncle (Ernie Hudson) into the official Ghostbusters mobile. Cue the resuscitated, Oscar-nominated theme song.
Soon, these self-proclaimed “Conductors of the Metaphysical” develop an arsenal of high-tech gadgets ranging from ray guns to a ghost shredder to a motion-activated proton glove. And not a minute too soon, since the next thing you know, New York City is being invaded by an army of menacing apparitions.
A laff-a-minute, female empowerment fantasy far funnier than the original.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 116 minutes
Warner Brothers Pictures
Rated PG-13 for violence, mature themes, disturbing images, incessant terror and brief drug use
Ghost Appears Only In The Dark In Haunted House Horror Flick
When Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) was growing up, she spent many a sleepless night frightened by noises that she only heard after the lights went out. Today, the emancipated 22-year-old has all but forgotten that unfortunate chapter of her childhood. After all, she’s long-since moved out of the house and has her own apartment as well as a devoted, if dimwitted, boyfriend, Bret (Alexander DiPersia), she’s been dating for eight months.
But Rebecca’s relative state of bliss is rudely interrupted when she gets word that her little brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman), has been suffering from insomnia for several days. She can’t help but wonder whether he’s just having nightmares or if he’s being terrorized by the same sort of paranormal activity that had plagued her own formative years.
It suddenly has Rebecca reflecting on how her father (Billy Burke) had perished under mysterious circumstances at work after being warned by an alarmed colleague (Lotta Losten) that something weird was happening with the office lights. Could his untimely death possibly be related to little Martin’s current plight or was there no correlation?
So, those are among Rebecca’s concerns when she returns home to comfort her scared sibling. She offers to take custody of Martin as soon as he starts talking about their mom Sophie’s (Maria Bello) recent bizarre behavior, an indication that she might again be struggling with bouts of depression.
Truth be told, however, something supernatural is afoot. The premises have been invaded by the ghost of Sophie’s BFF (Alicia Vela-Bailey) who died from a light-sensitive skin condition when they were kids. For some unexplained reason, she’s morphed into an evil apparition that haunts her old friend’s house and only comes out at night.
Lights Out is one of those old-fashioned horror flicks which seeks to keep you on edge by making you jump out of your seat when you least expect it. The movie marks the noteworthy directorial debut of David F. Sandberg who has fully fleshed out his 2013 short film of the same name.
Despite low production values that often leave a lot to be desired, Sandberg has nevertheless managed to shoot a rather riveting screamfest, thanks to a capable cast, a haunting score, and a knack for editing that’s downright nerve-wracking. Proof positive it’s still possible to mount a decent B-horror flick on a very modest budget.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 81 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening July 22, 2016
Ice Age: Collision Course (PG for mild rude humor, action and scenes of peril) 5th installment in the prehistoric fantasy franchise finds woolly mammoth Manny (Ray Romano), ground sloth Sid (John Leguizamo) and smilodon Diego (Denis Leary) and company on an epic trek to prevent impending asteroid strikes inadvertently triggered by saber-toothed squirrel Scrat’s (Chris Wedge) pursuit of that ever-elusive acorn. Voice cast ensemble includes Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, Simon Pegg, Michael Strahan, Keke Palmer, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Wanda Sykes, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Nick Offerman and Adam DeVine.
Star Trek Beyond (PG-13 for action and violence) 13th episode in the intergalactic, sci-fi franchise finds Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the USS Enterprise stranded on an uncharted planet after being forced to abandon ship following an alien attack. With Idris Elba as the new nemesis, and Zachary Quinto as Dr. Spock, John Cho as Lt. Sulu, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Zoe Saldana as Lt. Uhuru, Karl Urban as Bones and the late Anton Yelchin as Chekov.
Absolutely Fabulous (R for profanity, sexuality and drug use) Adaptation of the British TV sitcom revolving around a couple of flamboyant, aging fashionistas (Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley) who flee London for the French Riviera after creating a media storm by accidentally knocking now-missing supermodel Kate Moss off a balcony and into the River Thames. With Rebel Wilson, Joanna Lumley, John Hamm and Alexa Chung, with cameos by Jerry Hall and Joan Collins.
Don’t Think Twice (R for profanity and drug use) Ensemble dramedy about the emotional fallout visited upon a fledgling, improv comedy troupe when one of its members (Keegan Michael-Key) gets a big break on a Saturday Night Live-type TV show. Cast members include Gllian Jacobs, Chris Gethard, Kate Micucci, Tami Sagher and the film’s writer/director Mike Birbiglia.
Don’t Worry Baby (Unrated) “Who’s the daddy?” dramedy about a philandering husband (Christopher MacDonald) who unknowingly cheats on his wife (Talia Balsam) by sleeping with the same woman (Dreama Walker) as their son (John Magaro), only to learn that one of them is the father of her daughter (Rainn Williams). With Tom Lipinski, Britt Lower and Phil Burke.
For The Plasma (Unrated) Buddy dramedy, set in Maine, about the friendship rekindled betwen a forest fire lookout (Rosalie Lowe) and the former BFF (Anabelle LeMieux) she hires as her assistant. Support cast includes Tom Lloyd, Ryohei Hoshi and Erica Jennifer Hill.
Hillary’s America: The Secret History Of The Democratic Party (PG-13 for violence, mature themes and smoking) Political documentary, written and directed by arch-conservative Dinesh D’Souza, incriminating Hillary Clinton while uncovering shady skeletons in the Democrats’ closet. Featuring commentary by D’Souza, Jonah Goldberg and Peter Schweizer.
Madaari (Unrated) Revenge thriller revolving around a grieving widower’s (Irfan Khan) search for answers after losing his family and everything he owns in a man-made disaster. With Jimmy Shergill, Vishesh Bansal, Nitish Pandey and Tushar Dalvi. (In Hindi with subtitles)
Quitters (R for sexuality, profanity, and teen drug and alcohol abuse) Coming-of-age dramedy, set in San Francisco, about a troubled teen (Ben Konigsberg) who finds a better family to live with after his parents’ (Mira Sorvino and Greg Germann) marriage falls apart. Featuring Kara Hayward, Morgan Turner and Kieran Culkin.
The Seventh Fire (Unrated) Native American documentary, set in Minnesota, about a jaded gang leader (Rob Brown) just sentenced to prison who rethinks his violent lifestyle role while his impressionable teen protege (Kevin Fineday) still dreams of becoming the biggest drug dealer on their Ojibwe reservation.
Summertime (Unrated) Homoerotic romance drama, set in 1971, revolving around the love which unexpectedly blossoms between a feminist Spanish teacher (Cecile De France) and an unassuming farmer’s daughter (Izia Hegelin). With Noemie Lvovsky, Jean-Henri Compere and Loulou Hanssen. (In French with subtitles)