Ghostbusters (2016)

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Ghostbusters (2016) Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Fun update on classic has lots of ghosts + girl power.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 116 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 50 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 122 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Scientists save the day, and friendship and teamwork are strong themes. Also, women can do anything men can do -- even subdue the supernatural. Some crude humor.

Positive Role Models

Like first responders, the determined quartet strides straight into danger, their sense of duty calling them to protect the city when everyone else runs in the opposite direction. It's a selfless act, especially after city officials have tried to minimize and downplay their accomplishments. That said, the characters aren't perfect; they have their flaws.


Lots of cartoonish sci-fi violence/scares; ghostly apparitions threaten innocent bystanders (particularly freaky are some Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade spooks). Ultimately, a massive specter terrorizes the city, knocking down buildings and throwing vehicles around like toys. Nobody seems to actually be harmed, though some of the images may startle younger viewers -- and one favorite character is blasted out of a window. The main characters use special tools/weapons against their supernatural enemies. Hit to the groin.


Some overt (though one-sided) flirting between one of the scientists and the group's receptionist; includes ogling and some comments that border on crude.


Occasional swearing includes "s--t," "damn," "hell," "ass," "crap," and "butt."


Plenty of brand/product placement, including YouTube, Sony, Vaio, and lots of NYC signage.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult characters relax with a few beers after a long day.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ghostbusters is a reboot of the classic 1984 supernatural action-comedy. This time around, it stars four talented female comedians -- Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones -- as the central quartet who must team up to use their knowledge of science and the paranormal to save the city when New York again faces a supernatural invasion. While the film has some pretty scary spirit baddies and intense ghostly battles -- as well as gross-out slime scenes -- it's so over the top that it's likely to be more engrossing than chilling for most tweens and up. Language is infrequent but includes "s--t" and "damn," and one character ogles a character she finds attractive and makes some comments about his hotness (but things never get too racy, and there's less romance/relationship content in this one than in the original). There are also some fart jokes/a hit to the groin, and adults drink beer to relax. It's a lot like the original (watch for cameos from some of the original stars!), but also different in many ways, especially with its underlying theme of female empowerment.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byIdaho Dad December 22, 2016

Makes me lose faith in Common Sense Media

I can't believe the review on this recommends it for 11 year olds and the parents reviews say even 10 year olds. The language is really bad, you have a ma... Continue reading
Adult Written byMrs. L. June 13, 2017

Do the reviewers know what the middle finger means??

This was sort of funny, if not goofy. I am most disturbed by the scene mentioned in another review regarding the boss giving the ghostbusters the middle finger... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byTim_McCool July 17, 2016

Just... no

It had SOME good parts, but, *ahem*, the men were all idiots, terrible villain, each team member was very one note, too much (Unnesscessary CGI), no character p... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byMax shoham March 15, 2018

Hard oof

Ghost Busters 2016 is easily the most worthless, misguided, bland, unfunny, derivative, watered down, ugly, stereotypical, pandering, self important piece of st... Continue reading

What's the story?

New York City is under attack from an army of the undead -- who you gonna call? That's right, the GHOSTBUSTERS. But in this update of the the 1984 comedy-action classic, the quartet of supernatural scientists is an all-woman team: paranormal experts Abby (Melissa McCarthy) and Erin (Kristen Wiig), nuclear engineer Jillian (Kate McKinnon), and subway worker Patty (Leslie Jones). They bring scientific rigor and plenty of pluck to their battle against the paranormal. Watch out for slime!

Is it any good?

The original Ghostbusters -- a near-perfect cocktail of brash irreverence, scares, and big laughs -- is a tough act to follow, but this reboot comes decently close. Chemistry is paramount when assembling a team to follow in the footsteps of Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson, and the good news is that McCarthy, Wiig, McKinnon, and Jones are equally inspired and awesome. (McKinnon is especially suited for the franchise.) More raves: Chris Hemsworth shows off his comedic skills to great effect, and fans of the first Ghostbusters will be thrilled by the cameos of the previous ensemble, giving the film a feel-good vibe that's hard to shake. Even the sight of the old firehouse elicits a pang of glee. The story feels of the moment and even amusingly self-referential, with jokes aimed at online trolls who've been quick to condemn the reboot.

Nonetheless, this new Ghostbusters lacks the element of surprise that even remakes should have; the "scary" CGI-dependent scenes lack the spark and fright of that "library moment" in the original, which provided a welcome counter-weight to the rollicking laughs. Strangely enough, the reboot's biggest triumph is that it makes us hope for a sequel, one in which the women can stake their claim on the franchise on their own terms, no longer so strictly compared to the 1984 version. See it -- it will definitely make you laugh -- but you'll have to wait for it to find its own footing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether Ghostbusters is scary. It's packed with angry ghosts, but are they intended to be scary or funny? How can you tell? Why is it sometimes fun to be scared?

  • How does this version of the movie compare to the original? What's similar, and what's different? Do you think one is better than the other? Why or why not?

  • How do the characters demonstrate teamwork? Why is that an important character strength?

  • Does it make a difference that this team of Ghostbusters is all female? How does that affect the story (if it does)? How does it affect the way you feel about the flirting scenes and the way Chris Hemsworth's character is treated?

Movie details

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