Fuck. The. Haters.
Sorry I had to get that off my chest. I never expected to become so emotionally invested in this subject. I tend to keep far away from internet disputes especially with anger as misdirected as this level of misogyny. Women were cast in a remake, it’s not a big deal. Well at least not for me, someone who has absolutely no nostalgia for the source material. Yet as I watched these ghost hunting scientists who must conquer the external forces telling them it’s not their place to act, I realized this was a game changer. I understand why men could feel threatened because Paul Feig flipped a movie with supernatural blow jobs to a one hundred percent feminist film. Unlike Charlie’s Angels which I recently defended, these women don’t have to use their sexuality as a means of persuasion. There is no male gaze here only baller jumpsuits, high tech weaponry and a “step aside” attitude, all things that make me so proud to be a woman in 2016.
This new Ghostbusters is trying its best to be a send up to the original as well as tell its own story. The core team aside from their attire and choice of vehicle are quite different personality wise from their 1984 counterparts. The lead is arguably Erin (Kristen Wiig) who is pulled back into the exploration of the paranormal after an apparition is sighted at a historically preserved mansion. Her former partner Abby (Melissa McCarthy) and quirky engineer Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) put their gadgets in action to uncover the paranormal phenomenons that infests the city. Joined by chipper MTA worker/New York historian Patty (Leslie Jones) and dimwitted secretary Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) they must save humanity from the restless spirits being summoned from the unknown. While the narrative follows similar beats, there’s strong individuality sparing us from having to compare the performances to the iconic stylings of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. Each actress gets their own opportunity to shine whether it be silly freak outs as Erin doused in slime proclaims “ghosts are real” in a Youtube video or Holtzmann’s badass fight sequence as she whips the paranormal with proton lasers. As for the homages, almost every scene becomes an origin story from the genesis of the logo, tagline and Ecto-1 which I got more mileage out of than the flagrant cameos. Most were shoehorned as the the movie stops for applause breaks (Ernie Hudson was the only actor to receive one in my screening) and rarely were they actually funny but rather retired stars with puzzled expressions entering a scene. Take those out and give the squad more time to riff and test wildly unsafe contraptions as that’s where the biggest laughs come from.
There’s so many moments where I wanted to cheer alongside these women as they have celebratory dance parties in their makeshift Chinese Restaurant Headquarters. Whether Feig and writer Katie Dippold knew going in that they’d be fighting an uphill battle, the challenges within the story mirror the same hurdles it faced before release. The mayor of New York and homeland security who attempt to contain the situation, discredit the Ghostbusters as the public is not ready for this kind of truth. The central villain played by UCB alum Neil Casey who is a bullied man determined to make the city to bend to his will can easily be viewed as a men’s rights activist furious that his white male privilege has been undermined. The film calls out how “it’s really easy sit there and be the naysayer when you don’t actually do anything” where at every turn they’re being told “no” wherein the original film, the Ghostbusters’ credibility was never in question. It’s so self aware of its undertaking without overstating its enthusiastic message of diversity and female empowerment.
I’m impressed that the Feig/McCarthy magic was able to translate into a big studio reboot, a genre itself I’m quite skeptical of. Their foray into sci-fi is a success with remarkable special effects as the demon dragons and sentient mannequins are visually enthralling and nightmare inducing. Even better the film doesn’t feel the need to insert an unimportant love story which I had inherently expected. Aside from Erin becoming weak at the knees for Kevin because c’mon, it’s Kevin, the team is focused on more imperative matters than dating. It’s a movie that doesn’t want to end as the credits are packed with a show stopping disco sequence and extended gags which is a huge improvement over a lifeless blooped reels I’ve sat through this year. I hate that we still live in a society where we have to prove that women are funny and can lead a movie rather than being “the girlfriend.” I’m happy knowing a new generation of girls will grow up with this positive portrayal and that they can grow up to be a Ghostbuster (or at least a physicist). I’d like to see this film have an impact on the industry and span to more than just McCarthy led films but for now I’m content that it proved wrong all those who said “ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts.”