Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016) Adoption Movie Review

Dr. Erin Gilbert and Dr. Abby Yates once shared a close friendship based on their shared belief in ghosts. They even wrote (but did not publish) a book about ghosts. Years later, Erin turned her focus away from ghosts in order to teach at a prestigious university. Feeling hurt and betrayed, Abby enlisted the help of another scientist to continue her research into the paranormal. When money was tight, Abby also published the book that she and Erin wrote. When Erin learns this, she is terrified that it will hurt her chances of getting tenure. She confronts Abby, who says she will think about stopping to sell the book if Erin helps her with a paranormal investigation.   


New York City is invested with malicious ghosts who intend to kill humans. They want revenge for wrongs that they experienced in life. A young man named Rowan North is marshalling the ghosts. He has been bullied throughout his life, and promises himself that he will now become the bully. Rowan intends to release the souls of a million vengeful ghosts into the world to torment people. He even kills himself in order to become a ghost and lead his army. Erin and Abby are helped by the ghost-fighting inventions of Dr. Jillian Holtzmann and the deep knowledge of New York City possessed by Patty Tolan. The four of them become known as the Ghostbusters. They will try to capture and contain the ghosts that Rowan has released into New York.

Meanwhile, the government is aware of New York City’s ghost problem, but to avoid a public panic they proclaim that the Ghostbusters are frauds.

The Adoption Connection

There isn’t any mention of adoption in this movie. The theme of abandonment is relevant to some folks who have been adopted; Abby has felt abandoned by Erin, but they are able to reconnect and restore their friendship.

Strong Points

Abby and Erin are able to restore their friendship, even after Abby felt abandoned by Erin.

When Erin confides that she was ridiculed as a child for her belief in ghosts, Patty offers an empathic response, “Kids are mean, but I believe you.”


A few parts of this film make it likely to be too scary for young kids, but also a bad choice for older kids and teens who are prone to nightmares. There’s definitely a startle/jump factor at some points in the film. Some of the ghosts are scary rather than cute. One character speaks of being haunted for a year as a child; another character has turned to the occult in order to bring suffering upon the world.

Weak Points

One character is thrown to his death from a high window. A ghost possesses two main characters. A villain electrocutes himself in order to evade capture and become a ghost.


The Ghostbusters and Rowan North share one experience: their genius was rewarded by the public with scorn and mockery. Rowan became embittered and intended to lash out, hurting those who hurt him. The Ghostbusters were hurt a well, but they keep pursuing their work. As one says, “Who cares what people say? We know the truth.” The villain and heroines respond differently to similar societal mistreatment. I noticed a similar theme in some of the X-Men films. It is a helpful message for kids and teens (and adults) to learn: “You will probably be treated unkindly at some points, and yet it is up to you to decide how to respond. Being treated unkindly does not require you to become an unkind person, but you might have to work really hard to avoid it.” 

Unfortunately, this film isn’t probably good for most young kids or for kids who scare easily; murderous, gruesome ghosts could be hard for some young viewers to dismiss from their minds. Kids 12 and up and adults might enjoy the film, but parents should probably see it first before bringing their kids along. For families who do watch the film, there is a good opportunity to talk about choosing how to respond to unkind people, and choosing not to seek revenge.

Questions for Discussion

Do you believe in ghosts?

Have you ever felt abandoned by a friend? Did the relationship ever get rebuilt?

What does it feel like when someone doesn’t believe you? What does it feel like when someone believes you?

Rowan and the Ghostbusters were all treated unkindly. Why do you think the Ghostbusters stayed noble, while Rowan became cruel? 

What helps some people decide not to seek revenge? 

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