So We Saw the New Ghostbusters Today

Short verdict: Haters to the rear. It’s a good movie.

It’s not just a good movie, it’s a good genderflip AU, in that it doesn’t just paste the guys’ names and roles onto some female bodies actors and call it a day, it actually asks itself things like, “If this basic character type had been born, raised, and socialized female, what would she be like?” and “What sort of public reception would these people doing these things get if they were four women and not four men?”

So the Venkman character as played by Melissa McCarthy is not the at-least-50%-charlatan that Bill Murray’s version was; and the four ghostbusters, instead of getting citywide acclaim after their initial successes, are treated in the media (with the connivance of City Hall and Homeland Security) as being either frauds or delusional or both.

An all-male remake would have just been putting a new coat of paint onto the chassis of an old classic; by going with a true genderflipped version, the creative minds involved managed to take their inspiration from the old classic and use it to say some new things. And the haters were right to be scared of it, because – in its lightshow-with-explosions kind of way – it’s pointing a mocking finger at the very sort of male privilege that they’re so obnoxiously, and anxiously, defending.

So yeah, go see it. And stay through the credits.

4 thoughts on “So We Saw the New Ghostbusters Today

  1. On the other hand, yesterday I was listening in on the conversation among four young blue-collar guys discussing this movie. They didn’t like it. Why? My opinion, based on what they were saying: Too many references and shout-outs to the other movie, which, without the other movie, made no sense. These were guys who were too young to have seen the original Ghostbusters in theaters. For them, it was a movie that they might have seen, once, on DVD, or have seen the cartoon (in re-runs). Or just be aware of. Not the sort who can quote the whole movie line-by-line.

    An example of how this didn’t work (and SPOILER!): Recall when the team goes to the hotel, and the desk clerk turns around and it’s the actor who played the secretary, Janine, in the first film. She’s introduced as if she’s important to the plot — but she really isn’t. The character is a walk-on, but is given too much weight. The camera holds on her a second too long (it’s to allow the folks who loved the first movie to recognize her) but for people who don’t recognize her, it’s saying “Remember this character! Important to the plot!” By the time the movie ends, however, it turns out she wasn’t important to the plot. Remembering her was a waste of time. Whether in a movie or a novel, putting down markers that are never picked back up will annoy an audience.

    That sort of thing keeps happening in this movie. It assumes a level of familiarity with the base material. (There are lots of other shout outs to other movies, from Fantasia to Invasion of the Body Snatchers (original version), stuff that I sometimes refer to as, “Hey, Ma! I went to film school!” movie-making. But at least they don’t interrupt the timing and unbalance the characterization.)

    And that is what those four young fellows were objecting to.

    1. And those guys had a valid critique. (It wasn’t anything that spoiled the movie for me, but then, I saw the first one when it was in theatres.) They probably weren’t the same guys — or even the same sort of guys — as the ones who were driving all the internet bile and frustrated entitlement, either.

      On the other hand, I’m seeing a lot of liking for the movie on the part of young women in roughly the same age bracket, for whom the sheer giddy thrill of having a movie with a female team getting to do exciting action-movie things compensates for a lot of minor flaws. Roughly, “Finally! Somebody made a movie for us!”

      (A sentiment I can definitely get behind. It’s high time that the Hollywood definition of a chick flick moved on beyond the rom-com and the three-hanky weeper.)

  2. There was not one word about “girls can’t hunt ghosts.” For these guys, they live in a world where women are soldiers, and cops, and firefighters, and surgeons, and governors, and senators, etc. That’s normal. They were perfectly fine with female ghost hunters, and even groups of women acting together. It was the lumpiness of the storytelling that they found unsatisfying.

    Short version: They weren’t this movie’s audience

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