So, erm, I went to see the new Ghostbusters yesterday and when I got home and looked online, there were no reports of the 1984 original disappearing in clouds of pink glittery smoke. I know, right.
As has been well documented, there’s been a bit of a bruhaha surrounding Paul Feig’s all female reboot. And when I say ‘bruhaha’ I mean, of course, vile misogynist hatred being spewed forth from certain quarters hard-core fans of the original, largely (but not exclusively) men who claim their childhoods are being ruined.
But they’ve had enough written about them. More, indeed, than the film itself which actually, finally, came out this week.
And is it any good? Yes! Phew. It’s heaps of fun, funny, silly, energetic and fast-paced with lots of action, impossible gadgets and set-pieces. Is it the greatest film ever made? Of course not. It was never meant to be.
There are nods-a-plenty to the original which seem to come from filmmakers who want to rejoice in what went before, not piss all over it as they’ve been accused.
As the new phantom-hunting quartet, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Lesley Jones are everything. They’re goofy and brave, broadly drawn and endearing with a chemistry that is hugely engaging. Comedians all, they play off each other perfectly. There are no tragic backstories to get bogged down in, no rivalries (McCarthy and Wiig’s initial hostilities are played lightly and quickly dispatched), no love-story side plots. These are four smart women relishing in their friendship and what they do, working together, kicking ass and saving the world.
As a summer popcorn film, Ghostbusters is a thoroughly entertaining, warm-hearted, ectoplasm-coated romp. But with all the fuss around it, it feels like it needs to be more than that. And is it? Well, yes. Them being women is never a thing. They don’t have pink proton packs or anything hideous like that. They’re four women of different ages and sizes doing what they’re doing and dressed in boilersuits. Why am I highlighting that? Cos I think it’s so frickin’ cool. They’re not clad in skin-tight leather like some female action heroes, or got their boobs spilling out over metal corsets. They’ve got trainers on, and glasses, and ponytails. They’re squad goals for a new generation. Hell, they’re my squad goals. Full disclosure: I don’t really know what that means, but I’ve heard young people say it. Is it people you wanna hang out with? I wanna hang out with these ladies. Especially MelMc. I can call her that cos we’re friends. In my head.
There’s a great bit in the effects-laden finale, when McKinnon’s eccentric inventor Holtzmann retrieves two hand-held blasters from her proton pack and goes to it. It’s in slo-mo (I love slo-mo) with that iconic theme music blasting, and you know what, I welled up a little bit. Women, eh. Maybe it was the slo-mo (I really really do love it, it makes anything look 100% more awesome) but I think it was more just thinking ‘yaaas’, this is cool-as and I want little girls to see this and be excited, be inspired, be empowered, be entertained. And bigger girls, and women, and boys and men.
Director Paul Feig has been putting women front and centre in his films for years. See Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy. No really, if you haven’t, see them. They’re great. Being a woman doesn’t preclude you from being a Ghostbuster, it’s not like they’re shooting those beams out of their dicks. And girls and women need role-models in all areas, in arts, science, music, sport, technology, politics, and in silly action-comedies. It’s about being represented. It’s about being seen. Of course, Ghostbusters is not without its problems. There was much disappointment when the trailers revealed that the only black team member – Jones’s Patty – is a subway worker not a scientist. And recent reports suggest that the Studio was “coy” about specifying if Holtzmann is gay. So no it’s not perfect, but it’s a start.
The doors are left wide-open for a sequel, and I hope they do another one. I hope it’s met with excitement, or even apathy would be something. A step-forward. For a female led action comedy to be the norm rather than the exception. Imagine that, eh. I want there to be a female Bond and a female Doctor Who, not cos I hate men and want the world to burn but because it shouldn’t be a cause of hysteria and, frankly, it’s about time. It’s our turn. Women aren’t always sidekicks or love interests. And let’s have new original stories about modern women, create new female heroes and icons for a generation to get outraged about when they remake them in thirty years time.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to don a boilersuit and slo-mo blast some ghouls (read: eat my dinner).
One last thing, can I recommend Violet Ramis Stiel’s recent article about her father Harold Ramis and how she feels about this passing of the torch.