Writers: Katie Dippold, Paul Feig
Dir.: Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones
Chances are that if you have spent any amount of time on the internet in recent months, you’ve heard that people are pissed off with the new Ghostbusters movie. Criticisms have been varied, ranging from genuine concerns about the number of remakes Hollywood puts out and the apparent dearth of original ideas in the movie industry, to angry commenters frothing at the mouth because someone had the audacity to mildly alter a film from their childhood. The lion’s share of the moaning and belly-ache has centered around one thing in particular. The new Ghostbusters film has women in it.
Yes, the Ghostbusters now have an all female line-up, and this is evidently a sign of the coming apocalypse. How could they put four talented actors who happen to be women in a big budget movie and have the movie be about them? It beggars belief! And how dare they – how very dare they – remake a film from my childhood and not make it exactly like the original? Some franchises are sacred. I mean, what’s next? A remake of Robocop? Point Break? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?! It just doesn’t bear thinking about. And the only male character in the new Ghostbusters is played by a handsome man who acts like an idiot and has an unrealistically perfect body. That’s just sexist! (In all seriousness, I did genuinely see someone tweet that…)
Okay, all joking aside, I can see why people weren’t exactly thrilled with the prospect of a rebooted Ghostbusters movie. While I’m not the biggest fan of the franchise (such as it is), the original 1984 movie is a legitimate classic. Funny, imaginative and infinitely re-watchable – the film has firmly cemented itself in the popular culture of a generation, to the point where if you say ‘who ya gonna call?’ in a room full of people over a certain age, you are guaranteed to get a response.
Trouble is that the legitimate concerns of a large number of the nostalgic fan-base have been overshadowed somewhat by the vitriolic ramblings of a vocal minority. The trailer for the reboot can be counted amongst the most hated YouTube videos of all time, with – at time of writing – around 930,000 dislikes (for reference, though, the latest Call of Duty reveal trailer has about 3 million). Twitter and YouTube users have been ranting for months about how they hate the very idea of this movie and there was a call for a boycott before it had even started production. People are really quite angry about it. But why? What’s there to be angry about?
The majority of the flak that this film gets on the internet seems to center on a specific point: that this movie will somehow ruin the Ghostbusters franchise (even though the 1989 sequel to the original film already managed that) simply because it has women in it. Having seen the movie, I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to see a big-budget action film starring a group of women. Not ‘strong female characters’ or imitations of whichever preposterously proportioned action-man is starring in the latest dick-flick, but actual real women. Why is that a problem? The old movie is still readily available, right? It didn’t just wink out of existence because someone had the gall to make a Ghostbusters film that wasn’t exclusively marketed at 30-something fan-boys? You may not like the trailer and not want to go see the film – that’s fine, you’re obviously entitled to your opinion – but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t exist, right?
Much to the anger of misogynist and bigots the world over, the new Ghostbusters is actually pretty good, receiving mostly positive reviews from many critics. Directed by Paul Feig and starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones in the lead roles; the film borrows just enough from the original movie to make it familiar, but stops well-short of completely ripping off the story. As reboots go, I thought the film was extremely respectful of its source material: there are a tonne of references to the original movie – some subtle, others less so – and the cameos from the original cast (not a spoiler) were well handled. It manages to find the right balance between homage and originality, which can be a difficult thing to get right with franchises as popular as this one. There are a few plot elements that either fall a bit flat or just don’t go anywhere, but for the most part the story is fairly tight.
Acting-wise, everyone is on good form with Wiig and McCarthy doing what they do best and McKinnon and Jones giving brilliantly unhinged performances. Ironically, Chris Hemsworth’s turn as a fantastically thick secretary nearly steals the show – he’s clearly having a lot of fun and gets some of the best jokes in the movie.
The one major criticism I have of the movie is that I didn’t find it particularly funny, but that probably says more about me than the film itself. The Feig/McCarthy/Wiig brand of comedy just isn’t my cup of tea – that’s not meant to be snobbish or to belittle the humour in anyway, it’s just how it is. Having said that, there were a few scenes that seemed to pull their punches, and it felt like they had been edited out for time – for instance, there is a bit towards the climax of the movie that seems to be building up for a big comedic pay off that never happens (you’ll know what I mean if you go and see it) and I genuinely don’t know why it was cut. McCarthy also seems a bit more reserved than usual – not quite as outrageous as her roles in Bridesmaids or The Heat for example – and this is a shame.
Despite all this, though, I can’t say that I didn’t find it entertaining. When you get right down to it, the new Ghostbusters flick is just a fun movie. It may not quite live up to its predecessor, but to be honest it was never going to. As a reboot, though, I think it was extremely effective at breathing life into a franchise that has been on the back-burner for decades. I’m not saying that the new film is without its faults – it’s by no means perfect – but I do think that more movies and franchises should cater for a wider audience, and that Ghostbusters is an important step in the right direction.