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Arts & Life

'Ghostbusters' Review: Reboot Has Winks To The '80s Franchise

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GHOSTBUSTERS")

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

You can move your shoulders a little bit. That's the theme from the 1980s hit movie, "Ghostbusters," a film about some kooky scientists who take it upon themselves to rid New York City of ghosts. That team was an all-male ensemble.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Now, a full generation later, the Ghostbusters are back. And they're all women.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GHOSTBUSTERS")

KATE MCKINNON: (As Dr. Jillian Holtzmann) This puppy I like to call a ghost chipper. Hollow laser technology sucks in the ghost and neutralizes it. Step up to bat, and do what you're going to do.

(SOUNDBITE OF LASER FIRING)

MELISSA MCCARTHY: (As Dr. Abby Yates) OK, that was awesome.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

MONTAGNE: And that was actress Kate McKinnon playing one of the eccentric gadget-and-gizmo-obsessed female scientists. This remake's all-female cast has gotten mostly positive reviews. But it has taken heat from one demographic - men. The criticism has been harsh. Here's Rebecca Keegan who covers film for the LA Times.

REBECCA KEEGAN: People are claiming their childhoods are being ruined. There is a campaign to rate the movie incredibly low on IMDb. There are a group of guys on Reddit planning to play a "Ghostbusters" video game together all weekend in sort of solidarity to protest the film. So I think they're a small but apparently very aggrieved group.

MONTAGNE: Right, and - but some of it are a bit serious. I mean, the film's director, Paul Feig, has been taking a lot of online trolling and apparently even death threats. Did he or Sony Pictures expect this?

KEEGAN: You know, it's interesting. This certainly isn't the first reboot of a beloved franchise. I mean, this summer alone we also have a Tarzan movie. There's a new Ben-Hur movie. Neither of those inspired this kind of vitriol. This seems to be something specifically about an all-female cast taking on the role of these beloved actors from this '80s franchise that has really irked people.

MONTAGNE: Although the stars are funny, and funny in quite a similar way as, say, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray.

KEEGAN: Right, I mean, this is - Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon - they're a group of incredibly gifted, improvisational comics. And they deliver really appealing performances in the film. But that doesn't seem to be the point since a lot of the people who are upset about it - well, in fact, almost all the people who are upset about it haven't seen the movie.

MONTAGNE: Well, you have seen the movie. What do you think?

KEEGAN: It's incredibly funny. It's a little bit scary. It has plenty of winks in it for fans of the original. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man makes an appearance. There are cameos from the original cast members. There's also some interesting flips on the usual gender dynamics that we're used to. The sort of stupid, sexy secretary role is played by Chris Hemsworth in a twist on what we're used to seeing.

MONTAGNE: You know, thinking about this, it seems like we've been seeing more movies where the cast is a cast of women or mostly women, like the soon-to-be-released "Bad Moms." Are the studios catering to an emerging appetite or are they catching up to an audience that's always been there?

KEEGAN: You know, it's funny. I've been covering the movie business for over a decade now. And I feel like I've probably written 20 stories, at least, about movies built around female stars that have performed really well. Whether it was "Twilight," "The Hunger Games," "Pitch Perfect," "Mad Max," "Bridesmaids" - it just feels like the you go, girl story has sort of been written and the studios have clearly taken the message.

MONTAGNE: Rebecca, thanks very much.

KEEGAN: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: That's Rebecca Keegan who writes about film for the Los Angeles Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.