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'Ghostbusters': A 'Likable Mess'

Hopper Stone / Columbia Pictures
Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, and Leslie Jones in "Ghostbusters."

Ghostbusters has held a place in our film-loving hearts since the movie’s release in 1984.  It even holds the title of number 28 on the list of 100 best comedies, according to the American Film Institute. So, naturally public sentiment ranged from the cautiously optimistic to the downright negative leading up the all-female cast remake of the classic that opened last week in Milwaukee.

Film contributor Duane Dudek's initial thoughts were not as negative as some online comments, but he still came out of the theater with oddly mixed feelings.

"It's a likable mess," says Dudek. "It's dramatically, structurally, maybe even comedically kind of confusing and a mish-mash. But in the end I really liked the actors and it made me feel kind of good sometimes, so I felt that I came around with a mixed positive response."

While obviously not as good as the original Ghostbusters, the film's one area of originality was in casting an all-female ensemble. However, Dudek thinks that the film did not take advantage of the cast to its full potential - especially with the vast amount of talent in Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones.

"That was a lightning rod for a lot of the fanboys originally, even (Donald) Trump attacked it for political correctness," explains Dudek. "But it exists, why not exploit it in some way?"

And while audiences have seen New York City be destroyed in films countless times, the destructive blow back that started from the trailer's release has not kept this franchise down. Dudek notes that creating such negative discussions and hateful rhetoric towards female leads in particular goes beyond simply not enjoying a movie. "That's not dislike, that's some sort of strange backlash."

In Dudek's opinion, Ghostbusters rates at a two and a half to a three star movie. "To me, movies are stories and this story wasn't that good," he says. "But I liked it, go figure!"

Duane Dudek is the former film critic for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  He continues to review movies at his website, The Dudek Abides.

Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.