Ghostbusters is finally here, after months and months of slobbering internet protesters behaving like entitled children and normal people being a little bit nervous because the trailer was "meh." As promised, it stars four women who are great at their jobs both on and off-screen. As promised, it is a broad appeal summer blockbuster. But does it fulfill all the other promises of its lengthy marketing campaign, let alone the unspoken wishes we had for it? What better way to discuss the incidentally all-female reboot of a classic comedy franchise than with an incidentally all-female roundtable discussion!
Kaitlyn Tiffany: I never thought I would tear up listening to a Fall Out Boy song, but here we are. I saw Ghostbusters alone in the disgusting trash heap movie theater across from Prospect Park. The matinee showing was positively squirming with children. When the Fall Out Boy revamp of the Ghostbusters theme filled the theater and the four leads lined up to do battle with some ghosts, I could not help it — I was overcome!
these specific women waited a long time for this
I think I'm misremembering an idiom here, but it felt like a case of not knowing what I needed until I got it. I didn't really feel the total lack of women in my summer tentpole action-comedies until I saw what I could have had this whole time. And not only have we waited a long time for this, these specific women waited a long time for this. Leslie Jones did stand up for 25 years before she got even a shot at SNL; Kristen Wiig toiled away as the show's workhorse for close to a decade before she got to make Bridesmaids, which was unequivocally the wall-smasher that made this movie possible and gave Melissa McCarthy her breakout role at the age of 40. As a bright spot: Kate McKinnon is a decade younger than most of the cast, and the relative quickness of her career trajectory seems to be at least partly thanks to women like her co-stars.
Dami Lee: Yeah, and I think this movie is going to do for Kate McKinnon what Bridesmaids did for Kristen Wiig. Full disclosure, I didn't grow up with the original Ghostbusters as an integral part of my childhood. I watched the first 10 minutes of it maybe about two years ago and stopped watching because I was like, "This movie is kind of sexist, and did not age well!" So the main appeal of watching the reboot for me was the fact that there were four really funny women in the lead roles, all of whom I've been a fan of for a while, in a summer blockbuster that wasn't like the 234,289th Marvel superhero movie.
Despite all this, I was pretty underwhelmed by the jokes, but I left with a newfound appreciation for Kate McKinnon, mainly due to that standout fight scene where she single-handedly takes out all of the ghosts.
Adi Robertson: I actually hadn't planned on going to see the new Ghostbusters right away, because I fully expected to be disappointed and I really wanted to like a blockbuster action movie that incidentally starred a team of women. The first trailer was just so terrible! It made it look like an incredibly broad, on-the-nose fan film. It's not that I'm all that devoted to the original, although I've seen it several times and like it, but the remake didn't seem like a movie I would enjoy on its own merits.
kate mckinnon's character doesn't "transcend gender," but she isn't marked by it either
So I was pleasantly surprised that I liked maybe, I don't know, 60 percent of it! The jokes were hit-or-miss, but when they hit they hit really well. And Kate McKinnon feels like a big step forward as a character. She's one of the first female ensemble-action-movie leads I've seen who seemed badass without being the badass female character of an otherwise male team. It's not that she "transcends gender" or anything, but the character gets to exist without being marked by it. And god that fight scene. It made up for all the parts of the ending that really dragged.
KT: The ending really was insane — haven't we learned from superhero movies that you can't just smash buildings and act like there was no death toll?! The action plot was cookie-cutter at its best and weird in a bad way at its worst — like when Kristen Wiig goes all Disney's Hercules to save Melissa McCarthy from a green death portal. They even had weird grey hair when they got out, just like Hercules did!
DL: But they still retained their youthful good looks. It's so Williamsburg-trendy to dye your hair platinum blonde right now, so it worked out for them.
Also, what was the point of Chris Hemsworth?!?! His dance sequence at the end credits really highlighted the fact that he wasn't Channing Tatum. That was a huge missed opportunity.
why wasn't chris hemsworth's character played by channing tatum?
AR: Chris Hemsworth was one of my favorite parts of the movie, actually. My biggest complaint overall is that it felt too safe and middle-of-the-road, but he took a gender-swapped version of the ditzy blonde archetype and turned it into this shot of total surreality. One negative review mentioned that he just didn't act like a human being at all, but that's exactly what was great about it. Why does he think the phone goes in the aquarium? Why does he cover his eyes at loud noises? He's someone who would basically accidentally fall off a bridge on his first day in New York and yet has managed to thrive. It was one of the moments where the movie really figured out a style of comedy that was distinct from either generic superhero-comedy stuff or the original Ghostbusters.
KT: The comedic style was really diverse, and genuinely odd! I also loved the Chris Hemsworth character, and was pleasantly surprised to see how strange they went with a lot of the movie's comedic beats. Leslie Jones in particular seemed to do a lot of ad-libbing, like the much GIF-ed "I don't know if it's a lady thing or a race thing but I'm mad as hell," and the tossed-off but brilliant muttering after a ghost that escapes on a subway car: "He's going to Queens. He's going to be the third scariest thing on that train." That's such a weird joke for a crowd-pleaser movie!
DL: And yet, the movie seemed to know and preempt its haters complaints. I thought it was really clever how they addressed online trolls (Like the "Ain't no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts" comments on their YouTube videos). The real-world tie-ins and New York references, and not to mention all the cameos (Like making Bill Murray the ghost naysayer) made the movie feel really self-aware.
AR: The nods to trolls were the weakest bits for me. Maybe it's just that I live on the internet and am oversaturated with it, but I wish we could tell stories about women without wasting time on people who we should frankly ignore in real life. And it also seems like kind of shallow, crowd-pleasing villainy. It's not like I expect huge emotional depth here, but the evil... janitor / bellhop thing was such a Redditor stereotype that he felt like he was designed for people to write think-pieces around.
I don't want to erase the actual sexism that's been part of this discussion (and racism — look at everything Leslie Jones has faced on Twitter), but the angry internet comments seemed less interesting than, say, the devaluation of women and their work in academia, which the movie also touched on.
it wasn't perfect, but more please
KT: Apart from being a bad sexism meme, I didn't understand why the villain had to commit suicide to enact his plan and that was hella dark for a family film. However, the long and short of it is — I loved this movie and I openly wept while sitting next to a nine-year-old boy who was understandably uncomfortable with my behavior, but having a rip-roaring good time watching the movie. Perhaps I will ruin all the nice strides feminism has maybe made (if Sony decides this film brought in enough money) by copping to crying for almost no reason, but this is my truth. I would encourage everyone who sees it and kind of likes it at all to buy seven or eight more tickets and think of it as crowd-funding for next year's Kate McKinnon and / or Leslie Jones star vehicle! Even if this wasn't perfect, I want more.
AR: I'm almost glad this movie didn't come out when I was a teenager because I would probably have never recovered from trying to emulate Kate McKinnon's character. On the other hand, it would have saved me from my embarrassing "Trinity from The Matrix" phase. So yes! More of this.
DL: Luckily for us, we're getting a sequel! And hopefully by then, we will have gotten to a point in society where we won't have to place all our feminist hopes and dreams on a single movie. There was so much hype and pressure for this to do well, and it deserves better!