FILM: Ghostbusters

Certificate: 12A

Running Time: 116 mins

Director: Paul Feig

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon

Genre: Comedy, Supernatural

Country: USA

Oh I see!  You hate women because the last vagina you saw you were on the way out of it

Let’s get something out of the way.  It’s impossible not to address it when discussing this movie but at the same time it shouldn’t be the meat and potatoes of any review of this movie.  In the two years from announcement to cinematic release this movie and its creators have been in the cross-hairs of some extremely angry, misogynistic, and downright hateful language from a lot of privileged and petted man-babies; some who are definitely still rocking their V plates, some who really should fucking know better, and others that will have surprised you because you know them and expected better.  The basic fact of the matter is this: nobody has taken the original Ghostbusters away from you, the sequel wasn’t that good, and as much as you wanted a third movie with the original cast by the time Bill Murray made Lost in Translation it was too late.  Nobody wants to see a bunch of seventy-year-olds huffing it up Fifth Avenue with a proton pack on his back because we can’t enjoy the movie when we’re worried about one of them dying of a massive coronary in the third act.  Put simply, it didn’t happen, it’s probably for the best and if four women starring in a movie has ruined your childhood then chances are it was a pretty shit childhood to begin with… or your uncle was too much of a cuddler afterwards.

Now that all that bollocks is out of the way let’s dive in.  Ghostbusters (2016) is not a sequel but a reboot.  In my mind it made sense that the four ladies would buy the GB franchise rights from Peter and co creating a larger GB Universe, but instead Feig has taken us back to the beginning.  When Abbey (McCarthy) publishes her co-written book on ghosts and the supernatural it throws Erin’s (Wiig) career into free-fall.  Reuniting alongside Holtz (McKinnon) and MTA employee Patty (Leslie Jones) to form the Ghostbusters the four women try to get to the bottom of what's causing this wave of supernatural phenomena.

Laser Quest Champions 2016 didn't just bring their A-game.  They brought their own weapons too.

Feig’s film has quite a few things to say.  Much of the film is centered on the perception of the four female leads.  Interestingly it highlights the pitfalls of the 24-hr connected 21st Century.  Yes we can access more information than ever before, but so can others.  So can employers, detractors, and trolls alike and while the film has a fun with its own infamy it also has a powerful message about the state of humanity.  Tonally this new Ghostbusters has dulled the cold New York cynicism that’s so closely tethered to the city and yes, the first two films as a whole.  It’s a warm, inviting film.  “You’re beautiful,” says Abbey to a ghost at one point.  Could Bill Murray have uttered those words without them sounding and landing sarcastic?  No, probably not.  This is an inclusive film.  If the internet trolls are the old white republicans then this movie is the Black Lives Matter, LGBT Friendly, all-inclusive paradise that the rest of us would like to live in only for that daydream to be punctured by a bullet fired from a legally owned gun inside a crowded mall.  It’s populated with moments of acknowledgement of its origins, of those who came before it.  It treats the original movie with a level of fondness and humanity that some fans have not afforded this film prior to viewing.  The fact of the matter is that Bill Murray didn’t even bother himself to read the proposed sequel scripts but he, and many others, were more than happy to lend themselves to Feig’s vision and in doing so legitimize the movie in what is a property lacking franchise status.

All four stars do some excellent work on screen.  McCarthy has the timing of an assured veteran, while Wiig bounces hilariously off her former SNL co-stars McKinnon and Jones.  Kate McKinnon (for me), is the stand-out star of this piece.  The decisions she made in constructing her character are incredible.  She owns every moment she has on screen and will leave you more than a little star-struck if you don’t blink enough.  Likewise Leslie Jones demonstrates that she is more than a TV talent.  She’s a natural, and one of the heirs to Tina Fey’s comedy crown.

That's not a ghost, that's Bill Cosby... RUNNNNN!

The film is most impressive with its look.  The original movies have aged… OK… there are a handful of moments with the possessed gargoyle and Rick Moranis that feels a little more like Ray Harryhausen than was probably intended back in 1984 but even in its CG newness Feig’s GBs tips its hat not just to the father of visual effects but its ghostbustin’ mother.  The difference between 84’s Harryhausen-like scene and 2016’s Harryhausen-like scene is that the mannequin attack is truly unsettling.  I for one wanted more, and I understand the film was in the middle of trying to do a lot so more of this would have slowed down the pace but oh-my-gawd it danced so beautifully between child-friendly spirited movie and The Conjuring that it felt like a brilliant short film within the movie.  The Halloween-Macy’s parade was another moment of playful fright that truly tapped into what was so brilliant about the original film when it was first released.

Few movies released during the summer months are anywhere near perfect and Ghostbusters is no exception.  It follows the same three act arc of the original two and of every Bond/action movie you’re likely to see.  It doesn’t do much for originality but what it does do, it does incredibly well.  It is so sharply funny, warm-hearted, and inviting without being derivative.  It is a film that can stand alone and yet is made more touching by your exposure to the original material.  One detractor online has called it a “terrible, unfunny, man-hating mess”.  Do not buy into this particular brand of misogynist bullshit.  Chris Hemsworth character is funny; sure he’s lacking in character development but he is a supporting character.  How many female supporting characters in movies of this genre can you name that are well rounded?  The fact that you’re still having to justify the casting of four women outside of a romantic comedy in leading roles is a damning critique of mainstream cinema.
The spirits of all the homeless Giuliani had killed return to Time Square.

There is a startling trend to female representation in Hollywood cinema.  All you have to do is look at the remake of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  In the comics, animations, and 1980s-90s movies April O'Neill was an investigative reporter who was so tenacious that she made herself a target of The Foot Clan.  Jump forward to the year 2014 and April O'Neill's importance to the TMNT narrative is dependent on who her father is; diminishing her character and paving over it with another nod to patriarchy.  There are so many excellent female characters in popular culture, so I'm glad Feig and co are kicking back against this trend.

Ghostbusters is an entertaining and heart-warming genre movie that pokes fun without ever being hurtful, spooks without ever being scary, and can provide your daughter the same kind of childhood role models you had without ruining yours.


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