Ghostbusters Brings Girl Power and Ghouls to the Multiplex

Deadshirt’s Max Robinson and Sarah Register strapped on their proton packs and got mad goopy watching Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot. Warning: Spoilers.

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Max: Alright so before we even get into the new movie, let’s talk about the original for a hot minute. I think my borderline religious reverence for the Ghostbusters is well documented on the site, but, Sarah, what’s your feeling on the 1984 original?

Sarah: It’s not my favorite movie of all time, but it is one of my favorite movies – get me? It’s wrapped up in my childhood along with the sequel and the cartoon. Ghostbusters (2016) kind of pulled a Force Awakens, giving the original film a firm nod in both plot and cameos, and it worked for me.

Max: For all of the doomsaying of the internet’s Lowest Common Denominator, the new Ghostbusters is a really fun movie. And more than that, it’s a crowdpleaser. I’ve watched it twice now and everyone around me was having a great time. There’s a definitely a sort of Force Awakens vibe, but the really important thing to me is that it just borrows concepts/throws some actor cameos at the audience. There’s no story connection to the original two films, which is good, because that would have totally sunk this. The Force Awakens by necessity needed to bridge the young and the old casts; Feig understood that it’s crucial that these characters create themselves as a team on their own. As it is, the new movie just barely has enough screen time for all of its leads while still telling a complete story.

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Sarah: One thing I love about this new Ghostbusters team is their genuine camaraderie. The original movies often had the guys off doing their own thing, but the foundation of this quartet is the friendship between Erin and Abby (Wiig and McCarthy, respectively). I totally dig that this movie not only had 4 highly intelligent, extremely capable female lead characters, but that they were able to form a kind of family. The only relationships in the film were between the women. They didn’t even have to force a romantic subplot! (I’m not counting sweet, dumb Kevin, for obvious reasons.)

Max: I was really surprised and impressed by how good the dynamic between the four ‘Busters is! Kristen Wiig’s Erin is essentially the Venkman of this new movie, the ostensible skeptic who’s our lens for this whole world of the paranormal. Erin and Abby’s friendship is really the emotional core of the movie, and while I feel like it gets a bit shortchanged in between Act II and Act III, Erin diving into the portal at the end to rescue Abby because she refuses to abandon her best friend again made me tear up. Abby, Erin, Patty and Jillian are all weird dorks who are ignored or ridiculed by the world at large, but it doesn’t matter because they’re all ride or die loyal to each other.

Sarah: Even most of the humor was rooted in their relationships, making most of the laughs warm-hearted. I loved when Patty screamed “GET OUT OF MY FRIEND, GHOST” before viciously slapping Abby, and when Holtzmann offered them all new weapons after the group got jilted by the mayor. And speaking of Holtzmann, Kate McKinnon is an angel who stole literally every scene she blessed with her presence.

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Max: McKinnon’s going to be huge off this movie and she just BRINGS it. Like beyond just some amazing line deliveries (her calling Kevin “a big ol’ robot” is the best joke in the whole movie), she has this really wonderful physicality. I liked her weird little dance after they have their first run in with the Eldridge Mansion ghost. There seemed to be a lot of handwringing over whether Leslie Jones was just going to be some kind of stereotype or something, but I dug how Patty as a character is just rooted in being super loyal to her new friends and that she brought some more grounded expertise to the team.

Sarah: The only line that soured me a little was, “we’re scientists…and Patty.” I do think they could have been a touch more mindful when forming these characters’ identities, but each woman definitely shined individually on screen. The irony that their antagonist was kind of the embodiment of all that white male nerd rage that boiled up at the cast announcement was the cherry on top, especially considering the other male lead was basically a sexy stack of meat and “Mike Hat” jokes.

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Max: Rowan, as a villain, is kind of one-note but no more so than, say, Janosz from Ghostbusters II. And I feel like that’s kind of the point? He’s this weird disturbed loner who doesn’t have anyone. The bit when he’s giving his big villain speech about how he’s been bullied all his life, how THEY would never understand, and Abby is just like “uh, we get shit on nonstop, actually,” was great. Rowan’s an irredeemable psychopath and, oh yeah, all the ghosts in this movie are straight up evil murderers.

Sarah: You know, I kind of dug that the first ghost they encountered was a Lizzie Borden type with her own Vigo the Carpathian painting (#girlpower). I actually had some flashbacks to when I saw the original films as a wee lass during some of the scarier parts. It can be jarring getting wigged out in the middle of a comedy.

Max: I thought all the ghost designs were really cool. They really needed to have interesting, visually distinct monsters for this, and the Eldridge Mansion ghost, the rock concert demon, etc were all super strong conceptually.

Sarah: The only real misstep in the film for me was some of the editing. You can tell they filmed a HELL of a lot more than they were able to show on screen (which makes me pine for a director’s cut), especially when Rowan/Kevin set up the National Guard for what was clearly going to be a dance number.

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Max: This is definitely a movie where a ton of stuff had to be cut. Saving that big dance scene for the end credits was probably a good call, but it is kind of weird that there’s no explanation for why Erin “leaves” before they go save the city. But I think my big takeaway from Ghostbusters (2016) is that I can forgive a lot just because the film is so charming. Like even beyond how fun it was to watch the four Ghostbusters on screen, even the minor one- or two-scene supporting characters were a blast. Charles Dance as the snooty Columbia dean! Andy Garcia getting furious at being compared to “the Jaws mayor”! Walter Peck’s split into Bill Murray’s off-putting bon vivant skeptic and Cecily Strong’s weird-faced Lieutenant Mayor and it rules.

Sarah: Flawless Human Being Sigourney Weaver showing up as Holtzmann’s teacher was just the most perfect thing as well. I had a few qualms going into this movie, but it was a blast. It was just as fun as the original films but had me in quite a few more fits of laughter than its predecessors (I almost had to excuse myself after watching Wiig pawing at multiple glass windows thinking they were sliding glass doors). My favorite thing about the film, however, happened after the movie let out when I was in the theater’s bathroom and saw a little girl act out catching ghosts with a proton pack. It’s amazing that a whole new generation gets to experience this franchise, AND that young girls have these strong, smart, silly women to look up to.

Max: It’s a relief that this movie is, at the end of the day, very good because that (hopefully) means these risk-averse studios will see that movies like this have a huge, underappreciated audience. It’s depressing that making a movie that says “Hey, women can be crude and funny and badass and goofy, too,” is seen as a political act, but Ghostbusters does that, and it does that so well.

Sarah: Ghostbusters redefines “remake,” allowing the original films and this new budding franchise to exist together in our universe while not sharing a universe of their own. With its success, this female-led film is sure to give anyone who has ever gotten angry over the gender-swap of an established male character exactly what they claim to want – movies with fresh stories and brand new female characters to quell the growing demand.

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Ghostbusters is now playing. 

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One thought on “Ghostbusters Brings Girl Power and Ghouls to the Multiplex

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the film with 2 minor nitpicks: one is that the Erin/Abby arc feels like it’s missing a big scene to really resonate the other is…the whole movie was shot in Boston and they barely spent any effort even pretending to hide that. I get why they had the film set in NYC in theory but like, why couldn’t the movie have been set *in* Boston…where they were shooting anyway?

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