I’m a feminist, and I hated the new Ghostbusters flick.
I will let you know up front that I am not a fan of sequels or remakes of classics and iconic films like Ghostbusters. The day anyone decides to remake Jaws is the day I give up on Hollywood. That said, I went into this new iteration of Ghostbusters with relatively fresh eyes, not jaded by the misogyny that seemed to infect a great many critics of the film, and their cries that the new Ghostbusters was ruining their childhood memories.
I love the original Ghostbusters film, I love the core cast of the newest version, and I have been pleasantly surprised by remakes in the past; my favorite being Fright Night, starring the late Anton Yelchin. I was entirely prepared to be charmed by Kate McKinnon’s disarming goofiness, Melissa McCarthy’s heart, Kristin Wiig’s straight-man game, and Leslie Jones’ brash hilarity, but alas, Ghostbusters fell flatter than any performance Chris Hemsworth has ever given, and that’s saying something.
I have several problems with the new Ghostbusters, so please attempt to unknot your collective knickers while I enumerate them. Before you read on, check out my rubric for a good group/buddy comedy, and the brand new Muslim Girl Movie Scorecard. Also, know that if you are reading ahead, you can expect SPOILERS. You have been warned.
CineSister on how to make a good group/buddy comedy:
- Originality in plot and dialogue
- A solid group dynamic between interesting and relatable characters
- Good story structure is like a good sandwich: Meaty, with not too much filler or cheese
First, understand, I did not go into this film with the intention of comparing it to the original film, but this iteration almost demands that you recall the good ol’ days of the Murray/Aykroyd/Ramis/Hudson crew. Rather than solidly embracing the canon of the original films and acknowledging the universe the first Ghostbusters created, this film creates an entirely new world, where the existence of the paranormal hasn’t been acknowledged. This would be fine, if only the film could leap ahead and strike out on its own, abandoning ridiculously camp references to the old films in the form of countless tired cameos of the original cast, the use of the original Ray Parker Jr. theme, and even lines of dialog from the first film. Far from being well-placed, sly little easter eggs, these references jog you out of the movie and beg comparison to the 1984 film. Now, as I said, I have been pleasantly surprised by remakes in the past, and would have loved to see either an entirely fresh Ghostbusters, or a fresh crew building upwards from the foundations of the old film. This was neither.
As far as comedic casting goes, you could hardly do better than Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, and Leslie Jones. However, the characters here were badly written, and once again, hearken back to the original crew in far too many ways. Kristin Wiig is the group’s Egon Spengler, the serious scientist in a brown plaid suit. Melissa McCarthy takes over for Peter Venkman, an equally brilliant though less strait-laced paranormal investigator. Kate McKinnon, goofy with enthusiasm, a master tinkerer, channels Ackroyd’s Ray Stantz. As the urbanite newcomer with unlimited knowledge of the city and its inner workings, Leslie Jones takes the torch from Winston Zeddemore.
Now brace yourselves; here comes a feminist rant.
These women do not deserve tired, recycled material. These women are not supposed to be filling the shoes of Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson, and here is where idiot misogynists get it all wrong. Too many short-sighted moviegoers feel that this film was doomed because these ladies couldn’t take up the mantle of the original crew. Not so.
These women do not deserve tired, recycled material. These women are not supposed to be filling the shoes of Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson, and here is where idiot misogynists get it all wrong. Too many short-sighted moviegoers feel that this film was doomed because these ladies couldn’t take up the mantle of the original crew.
These women are hilarious in their own right, and comparing them to the 1984 cast is comparing apples to oranges. No one can compare to Bill Murray in the same way that no one can compare to Melissa McCarthy: Both are comedy titans who deserve better than being stacked up against other artists.
My problem with this film isn’t that this cast of talented women couldn’t fill the original cast’s shoes; it’s that they were even asked to in the first place. For this reason, the entire group dynamic and reliability of the characters takes a face-plant. I wanted to see a Ghostbusters film written for Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon, and Jones, but I received a Ghostbusters written for Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis and Zeddemore, if they had been forced to wear skirts and joke about being perceived as too sexy in the workplace.
I wanted to see a Ghostbusters film written for Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon, and Jones, but I received a Ghostbusters written for Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis and Zeddemore, if they had been forced to wear skirts and joke about being perceived as too sexy in the workplace.
Another thing this film gets dead wrong is that it took grand opportunities for granted. While misogynists everywhere were claiming that this film was some sort of feminist statement, it actually shot down many opportunities to bring up social issues affecting women in America. With an opportunity to couch feminist discussions in what could have been a brilliant comedy, Ghostbusters went, literally and figuratively, for the low-hanging fruit with queef jokes, the objectification of Chris Hemsworth as insipid eye-candy, and shooting ghosts in their spectral apple-bags with proton lasers.
So far, this film loses out for originality, group dynamic/relatability, and laughs, so it follows that it missed the mark on story structure as well. No, it didn’t get all long and Kubrickian, it didn’t turn the timeline inside out, but it was stuffed to the brim with fluff and cheesy jokes to the point that they buried the true talent of this cast. Moreover, the movie seemed to swap filler moments and bad jokes for a well written plot, and recycled the ending of the first film with terrible effect, even resurrecting the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, and later translating the final nemesis into a similar giant reminiscent of Oogey Boogie of The Nightmare Before Christmas, once again proving itself thoroughly unoriginal.
My disappointment with the newest Ghostbusters film has nothing to do with a misogynist hatred of female actors in traditionally male action-comedy roles. Rather, I am severely let down by this movie’s bad writing, poor execution, and utter misuse of four exceedingly brilliant comedians.
To Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones, I am so sorry we haven’t smashed the patriarchy hard enough for you to have a kick-ass feminist Ghostbusters that’s all your own.