Directed by Paul Feig (2016)
by Sandy DeVito
This is not a perfect film (and who cares that it's not perfect, first of all), but I'll tell you what it is: hilarious, really fun to watch, brilliantly bolstered by its four incredible lead women, and important for its portrayal of women as scientists who are also funny, brave, human, and THE HEROES OF THIS STORY in a big-budget summer blockbuster that a huge amount of people are going to watch. This movie belongs to Melissa McCarthy (her timing is some of the best in comedy), Kristen Wiig (a matchless physical comedian and everywoman), Leslie Jones (GOD I LOVE HER, a powerhouse), Kate McKinnon (a fucking firecracker of zany energy) and every woman and little girl who will be heartened and encouraged by this movie. I certainly was. It made me feel like a kid again, but in a way I never got to actually feel like a kid when I actually was a fucking kid. Because guess what: when I was little, I never got a chance to see myself in four Ghostbusting badass women, because this movie and no other movie with a female cast in a narrative of this nature existed. I watched original Ghostbusters, a film where only men get to do the busting, and despite the fact that that's an enjoyable movie on many levels, REPRESENTATION IS FUCKING IMPORTANT, and women need roles in films of this nature. And now this movie exists forever. And that fills me with hope for the little girls of 2016 and beyond. As Paul Feig himself said to the haters: this film isn't for you killjoys. This belongs to women everywhere, because it's about fucking time we were the heroes in a story like this.
It's hard for me to really describe how important I really think this movie is for women everywhere, but I keep going back to one visual: this one, where a group of little girls stare at Kristen Wiig with complete awe and excitement on their faces. Likewise, an interview Leslie Jones did on THE VIEW where she tells Whoopi Goldberg what hope seeing her do comedy gave her as a child. That's what this is really about. Kids learn from example: almost everything they do is birthed from something they've witnessed from an adult. I feel deep happiness and relief to be alive when this movie finally came along, because this is a moment where a door has been opened. A window has appeared in the imaginations of little girls everywhere, who now have the reassurance of this movie every time their desire to be the hero, the scientist, the protagonist of their own spirited, smart story is questioned. The Lady Ghostbusters are there for them, now and always.
There's a lot of layered dialogue in this movie, multiple jabs at the naysayers and critics who would demean this experience for women and its importance in mainstream media. Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) is a well-done character for many reasons. He's a satire of the "stupid attractive woman" trope, something we NEVER see reversed. He's a man playing a secretary, for another thing, a role traditionally pushed on women in toxic patriarchy. He's also one of the ways these women are given room to be human: Kristen Wiig's Erin knows he's a sack of potatoes, but she also knows what the hetero women and gay men in the audience know: he's hot as hell. Women are allowed to be shallowly interested in men. There's a trope that women always want more, that we're "clingy", that we can't remove emotion from sex. In its own way, Kevin's place in the narrative is about women being allowed to be interested in a man sexually with no emotional attachment. This sort of role is traditionally alloted only to heroic and virile men in narratives of this nature (James Bond, Indiana Jones). This is a subtle but important point that I noticed immediately and loved.
Likewise the villain is a jab at the "classic nerd" that internet culture has bred into a monster. His impotent rage represents the angry men who have been so particularly vicious towards their criticism of this movie, even before they'd ever seen it. There was a moment in the beginning that I wanted the pinstripe-clad lady poltergeist to be the villain, and if they make a second installment I'd love to see a lady-ghost villain, but there was a wider point being made here, and I felt it was effective.
There are some very slight continuity errors in this movie, but all in all this was a tall drink of tangerine Ecto Cooler with ice on a hot day. This was what summer movies should be. I can only imagine what I would have felt as a little girl, watching this movie. I would have been beside myself with pure and unadulterated joy. I can be a fucking Ghostbuster, too? I get a proton pack and a uniform and I, a woman, get to save the world? I don't have to be the damsel in distress and wait for Bill Murray and Co. to save me? IT'S ABOUT FUCKING TIME. I ain't afraid of no fuckboi. For a little while while I was watching this, I was a little girl again, having a hell of a great time, cheering these women on to victory, seeing myself in them, my heart full of hope that I too could be a cool, funny, tough scientist who busts ghosts someday.
Side-note: worth seeing in 3-D for the scene where McKinnon Holtzmann's some ghosts in the third act alone. Another serious bonus: the delightful cameos of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver, a very obvious stamp of approval from them onto this project. Also, stick around to the end of the credits for an extra scene.