2016 – USA
Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Chris Hemsworth
Words: R. Topham
From the theme song to the iconic one liners, the original Ghostbusters was one of the 20th century’s most recognisable hits. But the dedication and wrath of the film’s fans only became disturbingly evident when it was announced that Bridesmaids director Paul Feig would be at the helm of a reboot replacing the iconic team of ghoul catchers with women. Some say they simply oppose a reboot all together. Others are more forthright in their disapproval of Melissa McCarthy et al. taking over the reins from Bill Murray et al.
Parallels can be drawn between the dismissal of the team’s paranormal findings and the criticism surrounding the film’s gender role reversal. The New York mayor, colleagues, and even Bill Murray’s cameo character attempt to silence the group as fraudulent theorists faking their video evidence for attention. In real life, everyone from Donald Trump to the keyboard warriors trolling Twitter jumped on the naysayers bandwagon, denouncing the film as a failure before it was even released. But the equivocations should, and can, be put to rest. We’re entering a new era of opportunity for women in Hollywood, and Ghostbusters is another feather in the betterment cap.
Ghostbusters celebrates a demographic seldom scripted into major Hollywood features: not just women in general, but intelligent women in skilled positions that happen to be pretty hilarious too. Wiig and McCarthy’s characters are legitimate scientists and published authors, Kate McKinnon brings all the laughs in her role as eccentric engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and Leslie Jones’s subway worker Patty is neither a physicist nor a dab hand with a screwdriver but her passionate knowledge of New York is just as valuable as any physics equation or wacky gadget.
It may not be a riotous chuckle-fest like Bridesmaids or The Heat, but Feig’s Ghostbusters does allow for the leading ladies to put their comedy chops to good use and is a tasteful tribute to the original. What’s more, the film proves an especially welcome change in that it doesn’t explicitly scream “girl power!” at every opportunity. There is no unnecessary romance subplot justified as an ‘appeal’ to younger girls, and there are no gimmicky references to female stereotype, it is what it is – just a group of paranormal enthusiasts joining forces when there’s something strange in your neighbourhood and saving Manhattan from vengeful apparitions.