Welcome Back From the Dead
Let me get it out right away: yes, I am a feminist. Yes, I am a progressive. And yes, I have a confessed love of funny women. I also hate to see my movies injured. Now that I think about it, Dan Aykroyd has particularly bad luck with both with Ghostbusters 2, and particularly Blues Brothers 2000 serving as examples of awful Hollywood cash-ins creating abominations of cinema; however, this foray showed promise. So I walked in the theater for the reboot of Ghostbusters without either excitement or dread.
|I considered adding a tangent just for Kate,
but I’ll leave that to another day.
Obviously there was a great deal of controversy regarding the feeling that the all female cast was too much of a push for PC diversity. If it weren’t for Paul Feig‘s incredible ability to be a man who can also make good femal characters, I might have had no hope. Recently I read Bossypants by Tina Fey, and she made an observation that seems suited to respond. I pray my Lady Fey can forgive any misquotation, but “Only in comedy can an obedient white girl be considered diversity.” Tina Fey, like a sizable portion of both the original and new Ghostbusters casts made her name with Saturday Night Live. I find it interesting that a renowned institution long plagued by the misogyny (see John Belushi) is capable of producing such outstanding actresses, and they all shine like diamonds in this movie. Make no mistakes, no one pretends the characters are anything but women, but they shake the standards of the witty love interest so often reserved to the women of comedy. This movie is feminist in the best, most subtle way. It has well written, intelligent, and strong female characters, and it doesn’t make a big deal about it. Great characters who just happen to be women. All of the principal actors (Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones) are brilliant, and perform their roles marvelously. While everyone made a great performance, I must say that McKinnon stole the show. With her typical devotion to character, McKinnon provided an element of randomness that helped differentiate the reboot (?) from the original.
I think that’s why so many people are getting angry here, where they were okay with the equally stellar Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As much as I truly love The Force Awakens, and think that it is a terrific movie, it followed the story beats of A New Hope almost to the letter. Thanks to J.J. Abrams, it was an unquestionably well made movie, but it was also supremely familiar. Feig decided to do something different. While there are certain allusions to the prior series, including cameos from surviving actors (RIP Ramis), the film uses an old firehouse to mock the idea of failing to differentiate. This is not the original, and for a comedy, that is a good thing.
Is the new Ghostbusters as good as the original? It’s hard to say that was the best Sci-Fi Comedy ever made, and this is different. In a good way. This movie makes smart decisions to make itself unique and different from the rest of the industry. I can’t hate a movie for not being as good as the best to ever exist in it’s genre. More importantly, even if the OG GB can’t be beat, a joke is only funny for so long. Example: Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side! (Insert laugh track). It’s not technically a bad joke, but no one laughed at that because we’ve all heard it before. A comedy revival can’t be exactly like its predecessor because we know the punchline. Feig made a movie that not only progressed the series (who only had two good entries including an Xbox 360 game), but also did a lot to progress the comedy genre as a whole. Having women placed comfortably and intelligently in the limelight continues to open the door for more women to follow into further terrific rolls. You should go see Ghostbusters. It’s a good movie, and worth a watch, but it’s also an economic product. Still prefer Bill Murry? I can’t blame you, but that movie is easily available in the format of your choice. It’s even on UMD. Get over your nostalgia. If we want more good movies made by talented directors, starring superstar women, you need to vote with your wallet. Go and prove once and for all women are funny.