Welcome to Sound Off!, a semi-regular column where members of Speculative Chic gather together to chat about the latest BIG THING in entertainment. For our maiden voyage, we’re going to talk about the 2016 remake/reboot of Ghostbusters, which opened in the U.S. on Friday, July 15th.
Sound Off! is meant to be a group of reactions, not necessarily a review. After all, we are all individuals, but even mutual love of something (or hate) can come from different places. You may find everything from critique to fangirling, but it’s safe to say that if you haven’t yet seen Ghostbusters and you read this post, you WILL be spoiled in some form or fashion.
Now, join Carey, Casey, Shara, and Keyes as we talk about the 2016 remake/reboot of Ghostbusters!
Carey: I loved Ghostbusters. I can’t remember the last time I cracked up so much in the movie theater. It’s goofy fun from the beginning all the way through the end titles. When the movie started, I may have tried to compare it to its (original) predecessor, but I soon got caught up in the characters, the story, and the antics. The four leads (Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones) are fantastic, and so is their cast chemistry. Chris Hemsworth is hilarious as their hapless receptionist. And a number of stars from the original film make surprise cameos. Bill Murray is a given, since he has turned “surprise cameo” into a real-life art form, but I may have yelped in delight when Annie Potts snuck onscreen. Stay through the end titles, and then go see it again. I can’t say how refreshing it was to see women in the lead roles, and I wished this movie had come out when I was a kid. That said — I’m glad all the kids I saw in the theater (women and girls made up the majority of the audience) have a movie for their generation.
Casey: I must start by saying that I have no great love for the original Ghostbusters. I was incredibly neutral about the reboot until a good friend of mine saw it and told me how awesome it was. So I went. This movie was honestly one of the best that I’ve watched in a long time. My one complaint is that the film occasionally does pay lip service to expected tropes in comedy. OF COURSE one of the women got stupid around Chris Hemsworth’s character. OF COURSE Leslie Jones’ character doesn’t get to crowd surf. But for every one of those moments there were at least three others that were delightful. All four leads did a fantastic job. It was refreshing to see Melissa McCarthy in the straight man role for once! She certainly had her comedic moments but they weren’t her usual fare and this allowed her to showcase her range. Holtzmann was my favorite. Her particular blend of humor and chaos was perfect. The homages to the original Ghostbusters were fun and just this side of too clever. Again, a few of them were over the top, but I would have been a little disappointed if there weren’t a few of those.
I convinced a friend of mine from work to see it with Spouse and I. She, in turn, convinced her fiance to come. The fiance? Is a gentleman of discerning tastes who hadn’t been certain that he wanted to see the movie. Fortunately my friend is an actual Disney Princess in that she is so sweet and lovable that you hate to say no to her. So of course he accompanied her. *HE* liked the movie, which thrills me to no end. This guy knows everybody. I have urged him to tell his friends that he liked it and encourage them to go see it. Because I’m telling everyone *I* know to go see it. I am so afraid that movies like this one will never get a chance to be made again if this one does poorly. Is it the funniest movie I’ve ever seen? No. But it is definitely a solid comedy, even when things go a little over the top.
Shara: I am such an Erin Gilbert. No, seriously: I’m the girl who tried so damn hard to fit into normal, who tried to be what society expected of me, all the while denying what I was passionate about. I’m also the girl who finally embraced her nerdy and geeky passions, and if put into a haunted situation, I would TOTALLY be the one to get slimmed all the damn time.
There’s something powerful about watching a movie like this and seeing a version of myself on the screen. The original Ghostbusters was never part of my cultural lexicon, despite growing up in the ’80s. Heck, I never saw the original or its sequel until this past decade, so short of a delighted interest in the all-female cast and giggles over “ruined childhoods,” I never thought I’d see this movie. But Keyes made me do it, so I did, and I laughed. I laughed so hard. I cried half of my make-up off — that’s how hard I laughed.
And it wasn’t just seeing a version of myself on screen. It was the chemistry between the actresses, how each character was her own individual expert. It was watching Chris Helmsworth’s Kevin reduced to pure eye-candy, and damn if I don’t want every movie credit scene from this point forward to be nothing but him dancing. I want to go out and have lunch with all of them, or maybe just drinks. So long as the place isn’t haunted, and I don’t get slimmed.
Oh, who am I kidding? I would totally get slimmed.
Keyes: I saw Ghostbusters opening night, and I thought it was an overall solid summer action-comedy. Without veering too far into spoiler territory: the comedy is very solid but I thought the villain was a little too on the nose; the action was meh (overall, it’s just not a strong point for Paul Feig); yes, Kate McKinnon and Chris Helmsworth really do steal every scene they are in; and yes, I agree with the commenters who feel that one of the best scenes in the film got inexplicably punted to the end-credits, so watch them. There is also an after-credits stinger, so watch that too. I also thought the references to the original and cameos were amusing rather than obnoxious and I would definitely watch a sequel, in which I would hope they utilize the non-Kristin Wiig, non-Melissa McCarthy parts of the ensemble more thoroughly.
All that being said, I also walked out of the theater, out into the lobby, and immediately burst out sobbing much to the confusion and alarm of my husband. Because, for all its flaws (of which there are several), this film does something I do not think I’ve ever seen another piece of popular media do: cast an ensemble of female leads and NOT make the fact that they’re women a major plot point or source of cheap giggles/fan service (though there are, to be fair, a few minor quickie jokes that, with tongue firmly in check, reference the controversy over the film’s basic “Ghostbusters, but with an all-female squad” premise.) And I just didn’t realize how very badly, deep down, I wanted and needed to see a film do that. I grew up watching speculative fiction genre films and media. In fact, the very first Ghostbusters is the first film I can recall being taken to see in theaters (I loved it, most of it went over my head, Slimer terrified me, but I was barely four if that.) I grew up “playing” in those properties, and somewhere along the line, I just accepted that all the characters in the properties I so loved that I associated with were all men, and were always going to be men. And I honestly thought that I was okay with that.
Turns out, I wasn’t.
It’s difficult to overstate what this film would have meant to me as a little girl. If you have a daughter, or a niece, or an otherwise beloved girl who loves fantasy and science fiction who you (or her caretakers) are comfortable taking to a PG-13 film (profanity, intense cartoony violence, extremely mild passing sexual references), I strongly urge you to take her. In fact, I plan on convincing my mother to go with me when I see her next week. And yes. I already have a Holtzmann Funko Pop! desk toy.