When this female-driven Ghostbusters was first announced and summoned in a Bropocalypse, I was among the lighter skeptics. I never wasted time bashing it online but I was a person in the New York Public Library just trying to read before a couple of guys walked in and brought out a ghost.
I’ve never seen a sequel that really earned its spot in a saga and I definitely don’t like remakes (still not over Footloose), but this movie changed everything. It’s hilarious, it’s nostalgic, it’s clever – it’s the feminist win we were hoping for.
I don’t know if you were on the Internet in the past year, but from the time this movie was first announced, the comments flooded in, steaming with hatred and often misogyny. It turns out the best form of revenge is success, second only to I-told-you-so. If there weren’t an original Ghostbusters, you wouldn’t even know you were supposed to hate this one.
The movie strives to make its own mark while tipping the cap to its original. We see the beloved logo, we hear that classic song, we hear snippets of our favorite lines. The cameos from the original Ghostbusters still with us (RIP Harold) are actually tiny blessings from those old guys. America’s senior citizen sweetheart Bill Murray is a swanky skeptic, when-someone-asks-you-if-you’re-a-god-you-say-YES Ernie Hudson is Leslie Jones’ hearse-owning uncle, and Ghostbusters idea man Dan Akyroyd is a cab driver who’s not afraid of ghosts or losing a commission.
Meanwhile, the main cast aren’t their usual over-the-top, crazy characters. It feels like they were focused on bringing the story to life while respecting the original, so they forgot their extreme wackiness. This movie didn’t rely on penis jokes or a ton slapstick humor. The humor was smarter than the average comedy studios throw at us. I’m sure you’ve seen that photo of those little girls on the red carpet with Kristin Wiig (the one that I’m making into a poster for myself). That’s who this is for. Young kids watching finally know that you can be a smart girl, and a funny girl, and a brave girl, all at once.
Perhaps the most interesting character is the receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth). He’s lovable, ditzy, and a completely inadequate receptionist but they hire him because he’s pretty. He’s funny but incredibly stupid, mostly there for his looks and his body. If you need a better reference, just watch almost any action movie ever.
It’s the little things that make this movie feminist. When Sigourney Weaver’s character is possessed, she immediately tries to have sex with the first guy she encounters. When Melissa McCarthy’s character is possessed, she immediately breaks machinery and punches her friend in the face. Not particularly heartwarming but more realistic and not at all giving in to the male gaze.
It’s feminist but it doesn’t remind you. Much to the chagrin of the people who bashed it on IMDb before the movie even came out, it’s not militant feminist a la Portlandia’s Women & Women Only. It’s just a remake of the movie we already know. The main characters happen to be female. That’s it. It’s not a women’s comedy, it’s a comedy that happens to have women.
Feminist movies don’t have to suffocate you to get the point across. Sometimes feminism (which means the idea that genders should be equal with equal opportunities) just means genders should be equal with equal opportunities. Scary, I know.
You can completely dismiss this movie, never see it, and miss out on what I think might be a new age of cinema. If you’re so insistent on worshipping Sir Bill Murray, you can ignore the fact that he’s in this and a big supporter.
If we want to see more movies like this one, Hollywood only speaks dollar signs. If you want comedies that actually try, comedies that don’t rely on sexism, or just good comedies, go see this. You can see it without losing testosterone and you won’t have a period when you finish it. It doesn’t completely erase or negate the film we grew up with, it just honors and expands the story. I emerged from the movie childhood fully intact.