I usually go at least a little bit retro when I choose topics to write about here on 2FL, but this time, I'm spotlighting something very current that's just hit the theatres in the U.S.: the new Ghostbusters movie, directed by Paul Feig.
I've been looking forward to seeing it since trailers for it started popping up months ago. I was a kid when the original movie was released back in 1984, so there's a certain nostalgia at play there. I'm a fan of the four main cast members too (Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Kristen Wiig), and I'm not going to lie--seeing four women in strong leading roles definitely was a draw. And fine, in the interest of full disclosure, I really didn't mind that Chris Hemsworth is part of the cast too.
As soon as the publicity for the movie started though, so did the backlash. So. Much. Backlash. It seemed to center mainly on the two reasons I wanted to see this film in the first place: nostalgia, and the all-female leading roles. I'm going to do my best to not give any spoilers, but I have to shake my head at the people who are flinging those points around as reasons against the movie. To me, it's the opposite; they're the reasons that you should go.
So, nostalgia for the first Ghostbusters. Believe me, I know--it's a powerful thing. I'll be the first to admit that I've been right where the naysayers who are digging their heels in are: I've written here on 2FL about how much I love The Neverending Story, a beloved movie from my childhood. I firmly refuse to see the second film. The same goes with the talk that's flown around about a possible new The Crow movie; for me, Brandon Lee will always be Eric Draven, and I don't want to see anybody else try to fill those shoes. As far as the new Ghostbusters though, fans of the original don't have much to worry about. This is a reboot, so it's not following the same story line as the 1984 flick. But, the movie is full of nods to the first film, so get ready for nostalgia to hit you like a blast from a proton pack. Some of them are subtle, others a little more pronounced, but the new movie knows what an emotional tie some people have to the original, and it respects that. Cameos are another big thing. You'll see plenty of familiar faces, especially those that will bring a smile to your own. And I do have to give you some friendly advice--don't leave the theatre when the credits start rolling. Stay a little bit longer or else you'll miss an important cameo appearance.
Then there's the whole discussion about the new cast being female. I'd almost say, "Don't get me started...," but I'll try not to get too long-winded. I saw a picture online the other day of two little girls at the movie's premiere, beaming up at Kristen Wiig as she high-fived one of them. In the film, most of the female leads are scientists: I might have missed McCarthy's character's title, but I did catch that Wiig's character has a Ph.D. in physics; McKinnon's character, Holtzmann, is a nuclear engineer. There's been a lot of controversy that Jones' character is the only one who's not a scientist, and I can understand the points that some are making, but I'll leave that discussion to others. I didn't enjoy her role any less because her character didn't have a specific title attached to her name. I'm happy that young girls (like the ones in the photo at the premiere) can see strong women portrayed in this movie. Not only that--I'm happy that boys will also see the same. My son was just as excited to go see Ghostbusters as I was, maybe more so. And it's not just the physical bad-assery they display as they sling around ghost-fighting weapons and face down the supernatural. They battle plenty of doubts about their legitimacy and their capability because of their gender and deal with some Internet trolls. Trust me, the controversy swirling about this reboot wasn't lost on the filmmakers.
I found myself laughing out loud throughout the movie, and one of the main reasons for that was McKinnon's portrayal of the wacky Holtzmann. Don't get me wrong; all four leads did a good job with their roles. For me though, Holtzmann's eccentricity was really brought to life by McKinnon's facial expressions, gestures, and timing. Where McCarthy is often a physical actor (which works so well and adds to the comedy), and this film is no exception, the subtlety that McKinnon adds in some scenes just ratchets up the effectiveness of her character. Hemsworth's character is meant to be played for laughs, but he, too, does a good job of adding a few touches that enhance that.
While I'm not sure that this new Ghostbusters will reach the near cult-classic status that the original has, I don't regret plunking down my $11 to see it, and I'd likely do it again. If you're on the fence about seeing the movie because of all of the nonsense discussions that have been swirling around, don't let that stop you. It's currently showing in theatres in the U.S. and many other countries.