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George At 

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It’s hard to imagine legions of fan-boys were so legendarily upset that GHOSTBUSTERS was being rebooted this year with an all-female cast. The best revenge for the filmmakers was to deliver a fun and enjoyable film, which they’ve certainly done with this enjoyable if overstuffed new 2016 version.

Back in 1984, I remember seeing the original in theatres and loving Bill Murray and cast mixing it up with Richard Edlund’s terrific (for the time) special effects, and having a great time. But I had no problem with the reboot happening, especially with Dan Aykroyd and Ivan Reitman as producers and the talented new cast.

Kristen Wiig is Erin, current professor and former ghost chaser, anxious to find legitimacy far from her old pursuits of the supernatural. Her old partner Abby (Melissa McCarthy) is still deep in a hunt for ghosts, along with her new compatriot Jillian Holtzmann (the superb Kate McKinnon).

When ghosts begin appearing at multiple sights in Manhattan, the girls soon form a trio to go after the spirits. They’re joined by the hilarious Leslie Jones as Patty, a long time subway worker and NYC history buff who has made a discovery of her own near the underground tracks.

The special effects are excellent, starting with our first ghost of Gertrude Aldridge and ending with a massive swarm of spirits and nasty entities swarming Times Square.

Wiig is her reliable self with clever wordplay and stammering excitement, McKinnon all but steals the movie in the “Bill Murray wacky Ghostbuster” role and Jones nails every scene. Only McCarthy falls a bit flat as she is relegated to playing straight man to the other ladies. It’s an odd choice and a missed opportunity, buy McCarthy does okay in her more subdued role.

The supporting cast is terrific. Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) is Wiig’s college boss, Zach Woods (Veep) is a nervous tour guide, Steve Higgins (The Tonight Show) is hilarious as the Dean at Abby’s school Michael McDonald is LOL funny as a concert hall manager, Matt Walsh (Veep) is a Homeland Security Agent and Cecily Strong is very funny as the Mayor’s assistant.

Chris Hemsworth shows off some impressive comedic muscles as the ladies new assistant. He may be the dumbest eye candy ever hired to run a reception desk.

The only weakness of the film’s story is a rather low rent villain named Rowan, played in underwhelming fashion by SNL writer Neil Casey. He could be gone from the story in one second and it wouldn’t miss a beat.

For big fans of the original Ghostbusters, they’ll be thrilled to see Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts back in cameo roles of various sizes that are fun to spot.

Big fans will also notice a clever and touching little tribute to the late Harold Ramis and his role as Dr. Egon Spengler in the original film.

Ivan Reitman directed the original and produces this reboot, handing off the directing duties to Paul Feig, who adds this enjoyable comedy to his stable of hits the past few years, including McCarthy’s three biggest hits, “Spy”, “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat”.

The film loses points with the most blatant product placement since OO7’s “Moonraker” with annoyingly intrusive spots for 7Eleven and Papa John’s pizza. There are unobtrusive ways to place brands; these have to be the clumsiest attempts I’ve seen in years.

While I really enjoyed the glimpses of Times Square in the early eighties and even earlier during the final reel, I was very confused as to WHY Times Square kept jumping around in time, with billboards from three years ago, now, 1971 (featuring a “Willard” movie marquee) and 1976, with a giant “Taxi Driver” billboard overlooking Broadway.

The visuals of the final battle are excellent, stunning to watch, but there is so much going on at once, it feels like half the sequence ended up on the editing room floor, including whatever logic would explain the time jumps.

There are nice references to the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man we all remember and CGI renders him a lot scarier than the original version.

I give Feig and our female leads a lot of credit for taking on a comedy classic. While they haven’t nailed some aspects of the experience, it’s a different time and it’s a lot of fun. If they had disrespected the legacy of the original, I could understand all the online angst. Like “Jurassic World” last summer, there are plenty of verbal and visual references honoring the original to keep fans happy and engaged.

As it sits, this reimagining is plenty of fun, beautiful to look at and only occasionally clumsy, especially when it goes crass at inopportune moments.

Who you gonna call for harmless summer fun? How ‘bout these ladies? GHOSTBUSTERS scares up a B-.

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