Last Thursday, I went to go see Ghostbusters with my friend Robin. And I loved it.
— A. C. Wyatt (@alexisabooknerd) August 12, 2016
As someone who hasn’t seen the original Ghostbusters—I know, I know, bad Alex; I’m planning on watching it eventually, I promise—I can’t compare the two. But as a stand-alone movie, I was blown away. I may not be a fan of supernatural or “horror” movies of any kind, but I am a fan of comedy, good characters, and badass women. And this film had all three of those things.
I loved all the characters. Leslie Jones’ Patty was hilarious, witty and smart. Her one-liners had me howling, and her blustering “not my friends!” reaction in the climax was one of the greatest moments of the film. She wasn’t just a stereotype, and as she wasn’t a scientist like the others, she presented a good juxtaposition to the others. If each character has their role, Patty’s was to be the protector. Even if she wasn’t too cool with ghosts, she stayed with her friends, and in the end, saved more than one of their lives. (I also have to mention her “Okay, I don’t know if it was a race thing or a lady thing, but I’m mad as hell,” line, because that was poignant and funny as heck.)
Holtzmann was another favourite. I haven’t seen much of Kate McKinnon’s work, but now I want to. Holtzmann was like a fresh breath of air. She wore stained overalls and boots, had short (and awesome) hair, and made the kind of inventions that were as scary as they were cool. She wore makeup. She made fart jokes. She was crazy, gross, and utterly mesmerizing. (I’m also convinced that “It’s 2040. Our president is a plant!” is the only true way to answer “what year is it?”) She didn’t try to compensate for not being traditionally feminine; she didn’t have to. She was unapologetic about who she was. And that’s what made her toast at the end to finally finding a family even sweeter.
Even though Patty and Holtzmann were my favourites, I still loved Erin and Abby. Erin was in some ways a lot like me—anxious, high-strung, and the ‘grandma friend’ of her group. To some, the “what? Too sexy for work?” line came off as dumb, but to me, it showed how desperate she was to achieve her goals as well as the internalized sexism in her workplace. She wanted tenure so badly she was afraid even something as small as her demure wardrobe would damage her chances. Melissa McCarthy was amazing as Abby too; her open enthusiasm for everything—from the “stripper pole” in the too-expensive workspace to their first ghost to all things soup—was as infectious as it was funny.
This isn’t to say that I didn’t have problems with the film. Kevin seemed like a stock character, as did many of the authority figures—namely, the mayor and his aide. But while the cliché, slimebag mayor was a letdown, I could give Kevin’s character a pass as he was a clear parody of the dumb blonde female characters that have been in so many movies before.
Overall, though, I really did love the movie. And I was really surprised to find out that not many other people did.
The thing about Ghostbusters is that it isn’t trying to be serious, or political, or make any grand points. It’s a buddy-comedy film. And I understand some people aren’t going to like it. That’s to be expected—it’s a re-imagining of a cult classic film that captured the attention of multiple generations. It’s not going to be for everyone.
But it was everything else. It was too feminist, or not enough. It wasn’t funny enough; it was too goofy. It was too cliché; it tried to hard to be original. Maybe I’m the outlier here. I thought it was feminist without trying to be—without needing to be. We have a group of strong, badass women who support each other and aren’t afraid to get gross. That’s enough. They don’t need to be constantly battling sexism, or smashing down the patriarchy. Having a comedy centered around a group of women who aren’t constrained by their gender—who can take the place of men and not seem even the tiniest bit out of place—that should be good enough.
Ghostbusters will not be like the original movie. It is not a remake, and it will not be the same. But it is noteworthy in its own right. Having a group of women take what traditionally are men’s roles—and indeed were in the original Ghostbusters—is something we historically haven’t seen very much. That’s starting to change now, but Ghostbusters still doesn’t have much company. And to have a film where the villain isn’t the only ostracized misfit, where the heroes have just as much reason to be bitter as him, is just as rare.
No, it’s not ground-breaking. Your world is not going to be changed indefinitely by watching it. But if you keep your mind open, it’s a good story and an even better movie.