Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth
Written by Gillian Finklea
After two years of online vitriol from people declaring that remaking this beloved 80s classic would “ruin childhoods”, I am happy to report that four women working together to defeat the paranormal is hilarious, heartwarming, and just plain fun.
Going to see ‘Ghostbusters’ has become a serious point of contention in some film circles. This is unfortunate if it actually deters people from the movie, because it is the perfect summer popcorn movie. The movie begins with estranged friends and paranormal scientists Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy); the constant pushback and public doubt surrounding their strange scientific discoveries have led them to pursue different paths. However, when some ghosts become too powerful to ignore, the pair are reunited, along with Abby’s new partner Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) and Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), a metro worker with a passion for NYC history. Together, they form a group dismissed as “The Ghostbusters.”
In what could be seen as an extremely meta-critique, a large portion of the movie is dedicated to the women trying to prove that they aren’t crazy and are in fact capable scientists who just want people to believe them. They also have to deal with online critics, as their ghost antics hit YouTube and trolls declare “aint no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts” – a line which could easily have been lifted from the actual comment section for the YouTube movie trailer, which quickly became the most disliked trailer in history. As ghost sightings become more frequent, so does the dismissal of these women as they constantly have to prove that there is, in fact, something strange in the neighborhood. One of the weakest points of the movie involves the mayor of New York (Andy Garcia), privately praising the women’s actions but publicly portraying them as frauds. Wiig’s character is especially concerned with being validated, as her childhood was marked by people not believing her harrowing ghost stories. The effort to be taken seriously by the authorities should have felt more important but instead slowed down the movie. While it did offer minor obstacles for the women, it didn’t seem entirely necessary, especially when there were so many other fun things to focus on.
The women’s friendship seems genuine and organic in the movie, and their glee at catching ghosts is a joy to watch. Look, I love the dryness of Bill Murray and Harold Ramis but the excitement these characters get from creating and playing with epic ghost-catching machinery brings a light and fun energy that is different from the original. If anything this movie tried too hard in honouring the original in terms of cameos and plot points, and I would have liked more original adventures and frankly, more ghost-catching montages. If you stay after the credits you will see what is clearly a setup for a sequel and I am excited for the chance to see these comediennes in a movie that doesn’t feel like it has to pay homage to the original every 10 minutes. The original ‘Ghostbusters’ is great, but so are these women and they deserve the chance to show it in an entirely new way.
Although not every joke lands and the plot was sometimes unnecessarily complicated, I was never without a smile during the entire movie. I smiled thinking about the audience members who maybe haven’t been paying attention to Saturday Night Live over the past few years, who are finally being introduced to the epic weirdness and sheer magnetism of Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones respectively. I smiled at Christ Hemsworth clearly having a ball playing the dumb and yet extremely over-confident secretary. I smiled when I heard the Ghostbusters theme song and I knew a ghost-busting montage was about to drop. I smiled knowing that young girls will watch this movie and see four women fighting ghosts and doing so in a hilarious fashion; strong but fun female heroes for a new generation of movie-goers.
It is a great summer movie and if you don’t agree then you are basically the mayor in ‘Jaws’. You should probably go see the movie for clarification on that great joke.