So this new Ghostbusters film was kind of a lightning rod, huh? It shouldn’t have been, of course. Grown-up human people should be able to understand that 1) a group of female Ghostbusters doesn’t threaten them in any way and 2) the existence of a remake in no way takes away from the original, but the last few years have gone a long way to prove that rationality and insight might not be as prevalent as I previously thought.
It feels like I’ve been excited for some kind of new Ghostbusters film for forever. I actually interviewed Harold Ramis back in my ToyFare days and he talked about a Ghostbusters film being written by a pair of writers from The Office. Between his unfortunate death a few years after that and a variety of studio concerns, that never happened. Then it turned out that the super talented Paul Feig would do an all-female take. By then I was covering stuff like this for Spinoff and writing about this movie on what felt like a nearly constant basis. Still, I was stoked. Only a fool would be bummed out by a film starring the ridiculously funny Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon.
So, when my wife and I finally sat down to watch the movie last weekend, we were both jazzed. Evven though there had been so much talk about the movie ahead of time, I felt like I hadn’t heard much about it from sources I trusted. Plot-wise, I’m a fan of the story. A crazy guy running around setting off spirit bombs that weaken the membrane between our world and the spirit one feels very much in the vein of Ghostbusters. You’ve also got some great supporting performances by the likes of Chris Hemsworth and Zach Woods (who’s so great on The League and Playing House). I even thought they upped the scare factor really well without losing the high sheen gloss of a tentpole sci-fi action picture. Heck, I even got a kick out of the cameos and nods to the famous iconography like the firehouse, Stay Puft balloon and the statue of Ramis.
But I didn’t think it was that funny in the beginning, which was a huge head-scratcher. Given the talents involved you’d think the jokes would have been home runs, especially withFeig’s Apatow-like affinity for letting funny people riff for multiple takes offering plenty of options in the editing room. Maybe there was some studio interference on that end, I don’t know, but at least Jones and Hemsworth seemed to kill across the board. What I do know is that, with a few exceptions, I really didn’t like McKinnon’s Holtzmann. I think she’s great and super funny, but the decision to make Holtzmann the cartoonish epitome of weirdness didn’t work for me. There just wasn’t anything human to grab onto, which was sad because, otherwise, she’s basically a science-based super hero.
At the end of the day, though, I’m super glad this movie exists. I want my daughter and son to be able to see a pretty good sci-fi/horror/action film fully fronted by rad women (though, given some of the scarier scenes, it’ll be a minute before our first family viewing). As a white dude, I know I’m the last person who should talk about diversity and representation, but I appreciate the efforts for both in what’s essentially a hit film from a major studio (it made about $230 million worldwide off of a $144 million budget).
Thankfully, I don’t have to keep up on every little piece of geeky Hollywood news, so I’m not sure if they’re working on another Ghostbusters film with this cast or the all-dude one or the animated one (all of which I wrote about ages ago), but I’d like to see Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold get another shot. The more instances of awesome heroines and heroes of all kinds makes the world a better place because kids get to see parts of themselves as big, bold and badasses and that’s always a good thing.