Movie review: Sorry, Ghost-bros, female-led 'Ghostbusters' was right move

Brad Keefe, Columbus Alive

Look, I've decried Hollywood's glut of sequels, remakes and reboots for years, but the backlash directed toward the new "Ghostbusters" was particularly ridiculous.

For years, fans of the 1984 original had clamored for another sequel - maybe in part to remove the taste of the lackluster 1989 "Ghostbusters II"? - but years of Bill Murray disinterest and the 2014 death of Harold Ramis laid that idea to rest.

When a remake/reboot was announced, segments of the internet lost it over one aspect: the primary cast would be all women. Such a radical thing in 2016, huh? But suddenly every sad little man in America felt his childhood would somehow be diminished by this.

It turns out the decision was the smartest thing this series could have done. This 2016 "Ghostbusters" doesn't reinvent the wheel, but at least it feels a bit fresher.

Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a professor awaiting a ruling on her tenure when her past comes back to haunt her in the form of a book on the paranormal she co-wrote with her then partner Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy).

Erin meets with Abby and is introduced to her new research partner Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). Soon a paranormal threat leads them to join forces with MTA worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) to, well, bust some ghosts.

Director Paul Feig ("Bridesmaids") and his co-writer Katie Dippold ("The Heat") take the original script as a clear template - unfortunately down to the fact the Ghostbuster of color is the only one who isn't a scientist. But while there are certain character parallels, they were wise to not just transplant the original characters.

This "Ghostbusters" also gets the right mix of laughs and silly scares in the early going. The four leads are all solid, if sometimes a bit underused comically. Wiig and McCarthy are saddled with providing the heart, so it's McKinnon and Jones who steal more laughs.

There are also some really fun visual effects, which get a 2016 tech update, although things get a bit muddled setting up the big, blockbuster-required ending battle.

The overall verdict? It's surprisingly good. It's not only refreshing to see a big-budget comedy led by women, but it was a move that made this better than any sequel could have been. Added bonus: It will make the bros feel sad.

"Ghostbusters"

Opens Thursday

3 stars