I went to see Ghostbusters this weekend and put all my anxieties to rest: It’s great, you guys. I can’t believe I let all the negativity around it make me doubt.
Now I think about it, gender-swap Ghostbusters was really the only way to take the franchise forward. Casting four women allowed it to break free from its previous form. Remaking the film with four new guys would have been a pointless endeavour. Four poor, overwhelmed actors would have been forced to try and imitate the magic that Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd and Ernie Hudson created.
No one wants to try and be the new Bill Murray.
Nope. The only way forward was the do something completely new.
There is so much to say about this movie. But for now, here’s a brief overview of the five things I liked the most:
Lady scientists taking on the (ghost) world
I’m pretty sure by now everyone has seen the picture of Kristen Wiig and the grinning little girls at the Ghostbusters premiere. If not, Google it. That shit will make you emotional.
The fact is having four women take on a paranormal threat and save an entire city is not something we have seen before. And it’s so awesome to watch.
I grew up watching films that were mostly about boys, rewriting them in my head so that there was a girl involved. It makes me so happy that girls now don’t need to do that, because this movie exists. They can see that women can kick butt, improvise under extreme circumstances and be freaking hilarious ghost busting scientists!
I don’t like the Thor movies, so I’ve never thought much of Chris Hemsworth. As Kevin, the guy is hilarious. Like tears-running-down-my-face funny. What they are doing with his character is obvious as hell, but worth mentioning. In having a male clueless receptionist, Feig and co. are turning years of gender stereotypes upside down. Placing a man in the Stupid But Funny role usually played by a woman emphasises the work that McCarthy, Wiig, Mckinnon and Jones are doing.
I had read nothing about the film going in, because the amount of hate it received online made me depressed, so I had no clue these were going to happen until Bill Murray rocked up. I thought having the guys, Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver make brief appearances was the best way to reference the fact of the remake.
The movie starts with Dr Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) getting back in touch with her high school bestie Dr Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) because Abby has put a book she and Erin wrote together on Amazon. The book is about ghosts and how to find them, and the sort of thing Erin really doesn’t want the higher ups at the university she now lectures at to see. When Erin arrives at Abby’s lab she is pulled back into the world of the paranormal and finds the part of her that believed never really went away. Abby is clearly one of those friends with zero tolerance for bullshit, and watching her drag Erin out from under her rock and into the life she is supposed to be living is fun.
Dr Jillian Holztmann (Kate Mckinnon) is the wonderfully weird Spengler equivalent. She builds all the gadgets (and the occasional nutcracker). Throughout you get the distinct sense she would sleep with any Ghostbuster who was up for it. She’s one of those characters living on another plane of strange I only wish I could access. Last week I had no idea who Kate Mckinnon was, and now she’s my favourite Ghostbuster.
Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) joins the group after being chased by a ghost at work. She is a New York history buff, and her know-how completes the team. What happens to Patty is pretty much what I dream of happening to me every day. She sees an extraordinary situation, decides she wants a piece of it and dives right in.
Sidenote: I really liked that there wasn’t a romance in the movie. Lately I’ve started to feel that Love Interest is the only role available to women, so seeing a movie without that was refreshing. In the end what was most important to the Ghostbusters was ghost busting.
The fight scene
There is an epic fight scene at the end of this movie. The ladies kick some serious ghost butt. They are fierce, resourceful and effective, mowing down ghosts using a combination of improvisation and gadgets created by Holtzmann. Who, incidentally, has my favourite moment in the entire battle. There is this incredible slow motion clip where she takes down a bunch of ghosts, cow boy style. Again, watching women be the aggressors rather than the victims is SO important.
Special recognition: Kate McKinnon
The whole internet is going on about it because it’s true: Kate McKinnon makes this movie. Her performance is weirdly mesmerising. Something about the combination of her frenetic facial expressions and general unpredictability make a character so bizarre you can’t help but fall in love with her.