I want to start this review of the Ghostbusters reboot with something positive, so I’ll say first and foremost: this is easily the most fun I’ve had at the cinema in ages. By far.
However when it comes to reviewing it, I can’t discuss anything further without first talking about the issues that have surrounded the remake of Ghostbusters since it was first announced in 2015. A lot of reviewers, and director Paul Feig himself, have been more comfortable deflecting focus away from the controversy, but to approach the 2016 version of Ghostbusters while ignoring the surrounding furore is not only ignorant, it’s reductive of the experiences of half the population of the world.
Yes it would be wonderful if the film could be released and judged purely on its own merits, free from the effects of marketing, either good or bad, or the wider controversy surrounding it. But that would be a world where women are as fairly represented in cinema as men, and as I’m hoping you’re aware – that’s not the world we live in. We live in a world where a Ghostbusters film (A GHOSTBUSTERS FILM!!??) receives a strategic assault of sexist and racist abuse designed to kill it right from the beginning of pre-production. Comments, tweets and YouTube down-votes that were designed to negatively affect the way Ghostbusters would be perceived and experienced, and ultimately poison the chances that people who are desperately under-represented would get to enjoy role-models in the same way that all white men, boys and man-boys have the privilege to enjoy. This is important stuff.
I’ve commented before on the seemingly endless number of remakes that are produced these days. However, I’ve rarely experienced any film, especially one so good natured and harmless, receive such vitriol. I will admit that it acquitted itself poorly with a less than exciting or particularly relevant trailer. But that did not account for the level of bile that was spat at it. And if you think this isn’t to do with gender, well, you’re a fool. I’ve seen a Total Recall remake, Robocop turned into a 12A action film, Point Break turned into.. whatever the hell that was – but none were so lambasted in advance as Ghostbusters.
I heard Kevin Smith say that if this was anything other than a Ghostbuster movie none of this anger would have happened. To an extent I agree with this, it seems that what people (mostly men) are so offended by is not specifically just that it’s women leading the film, or that it’s remaking something from their childhood that they loved. It’s that women dared to step into their arena. We’re allowed our romcoms and our Sex and the City, and comedy about women’s issues (even Bridesmaids is included here) but don’t you fucking dare touch our things. Stay off our subjects, our nostalgia, our right to be the heroes.
There are still plenty of arguments that all this hate isn’t related to women and misogyny. It’s really just about ‘destroying’ the franchise and ‘the heart’ of Ghostbusters – by remaking it. However despite the fact that Sony has purportedly made large scale efforts to delete negative/misogynistic comments – the kind of comments this trailer was heavily receiving – two minutes spent on the first page of the YouTube trailer and I found the following:
“When are people going to learn that women aren’t funny?“
“GhostBusters – Fat Dyke Edition”
“ha ha this movie is loosing [sic] more money quicker than Feig lost his masculinity”
“Feig probably suffers from Gender Dysphoria”
“Come on, people! Let’s get it to 1,000,000 dislikes!!”
“25k of [sic] sooo close”
“Feminism killed ghostbusters”
“Star Wars, now Ghost Busters [sic]. What other awesome franchise can feminists horrifically ruin just for the lulz? I know, let’s make a female 007 Jane Bond starring Rosie O’Donnell.”
“WHO YA GONNA CALL?!… fuckin’ weight watchers… Christ.”
“Sony. what are you doing? women.. really? you have killed the true ghostbusters”
“The movie is worthless, further proof that men are and always will be superior to women.”
Plus many repeated cries of ‘you’re ruining my childhood’ or ‘you’re destroying the memory or the franchise’ (incidentally no-one says much about Ghostbusters 2 if you really want to talk about ruining franchises) – Well, frankly, fuck you! This film isn’t for you heartless internet trolling bastards who are clinging desperately to their youth, insistent that no-one else deserves their own experience of child-like joy when they see a film. This film is for my niece who finally gets to believe that she can be a Jedi or a truck driving badass or, yes, a Ghostbuster.
It’s for my friends’ unborn little girl who is not going to grow up believing she can only exist in relation to the men in her life. She will hopefully go to the cinema in a future where more than half the movies made can pass this very simple test to assess gender equality. One in which all women are given character names, and speak words that aren’t related to the men they may or may not want to fuck. This film is for me. A gay tomboy who gets a wisecracking, hilarious, gender-bending badass to call my own. In a fucking mainstream action comedy. It’s also for all the little boys, my nephews included, who need to see their mothers, sisters, aunts and half of the goddamn population of the world get to be heroes, funny, powerful and most of all fucking included. Not easily replaced with a sexy lamp.
As for the film. Hey, I’m not going to claim it’s perfect. Some of the character work is underwhelming and like many movies (I’m looking at you Marvel) it descends into an overdone blow-out by the end, too heavily reliant on CGI and big action, which adds very little.
However, for the most part it’s an incredibly warm, wonderful and genuinely funny piece of cinema. All of the actors hold their own. McCarthy is understated, expressive and just fantastic. Wiig is broom up the arse at the start, melting into nerdy, joyous humour by mid-point and Leslie Jones is just smashing it out of the park and full of energy. Kate Mckinnon, however, steals every single scene she’s in.
Yes, me and all the other lesbians in the world love her to pieces. But she is also just plain quirky and hilarious – even my 68 year-old Dad (who loved the film to bits) told me his favourite was the “eccentric mad scientist one.” She also has the most wonderful ass-kicking fight towards the end that pretty much redeemed the whole final CGI blow out. Chris Hemsworth is also great, merrily taking the piss out of himself in a surprising and enjoyable way.
Like all the best ensemble comedies, it actually works best when letting the four of them play off one another, rather than the ghostbusting side of things. And if I’m honest it should’ve carried on with some of the horror featured in the opening scene. Unlike the original it isn’t genuinely scary (except for the bit with the mannequins – I was taken straight back to watching Doctor Who as a kid. You know the episode I mean.) It is, however, fantastically funny. I was frequently laughing out loud or getting caught up in the jokes. Not to mention clapping with joy at the action and interaction. The relationships between the women were wonderful and they all do fantastic jobs with what they have to work with.
It playfully quotes Patrick Swayze movies, includes DeBarge references and has by far my favourite Jaws joke ever. It can be over reliant on special effects, but mostly it looks great and I thrilled at the updates to the costumes and tech. It’s reverent to the original, referencing it pleasantly but not constantly and finds it’s own voice. There’s obviously lots of little cameos, I punched the air at the final one. It also does a lovely job of mocking its own naysayers – particularly when reading out comments on their ghostly YouTube video, “Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts.” It really is a joyful experience.
I’ve read claims that the comedians are being held back from going full out with the adult humour – as in Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy – and that the laughs suffer for it. But ultimately it’s supposed to be a kids movie. So calm down. You’ll laugh, and the kids’ll love it. You don’t need people shitting in a sink for something to be funny. Unsurprisingly, it has the warm comedy of the much loved Parks and Recreation, no doubt thanks to the influence of the fantastic Katie Dippold.
Ignore the haters, ignore me, ignore everything. Take your kids, take your date, take your dad. Just go and spend some money on something that’s both entertaining and fucking important.
I’d also just like some merch now please.