I went to see Ghostbusters 2016 with Callaghan, my partner in all kinds of crime.
We’d both seen the original Ghostbusters in the 80’s. He loved it. I don’t remember much about it; while I liked it, it didn’t make such an impression on me that I got caught up in the enduring excitement over it. So there we were at the theater, an original Ghostbusters fan and an original Ghostbusters mildly interested viewer, going in to see 2016’s version.
We found Ghostbusters 2016 to be wondrous. It’s daffy. It’s unapologetic. It’s funny, even hilarious at times. Yes, we laughed, often glancing at each other to find that we were reacting the same way. We also did a lot of leaning in and whispering to each other.
(One of many benefits of those glorious wide, puffy recliner seats in movie theaters is that you can whisper to each other without disturbing others.)
Our whispers mostly went as follows…
Callaghan: Holy sh*t this is funny!
Me: It totally is!
Callaghan: I think this is better than the first one!!
Me: So do I!!
Callaghan: Hell yeah!
Me: This is awesome!
Callaghan: Hahaha Ozzy!!!
Me (at the same time): Ozzy!!
Callaghan: Is that Sharon? Where is Sharon? That must have been Sharon (Osbourne).
Me: I don’t think that was Sharon.
Callaghan: It kind of looked like Sharon.
Callaghan: I love this!
Me: This is great!
You get the idea.
I don’t know what we were expecting, but we both loved it, and we both said we’d see it again.
We consciously opened our minds before we went in. This was necessary because the movie has generated a brou-ha-ha in the existing Ghostbusters fandom, some kind of kerfuffle that I swear has been the second-most pervasive topic on my FB newsfeed lately, the first being, shall we say, general furor of a political nature.
In fact, the outrage over politics only slightly overshadowed the outrage and scorn over Ghostbusters for a while as people engaged in flame-wars on Ghostbusters-related posts. I don’t know if this is still going on, because I’ve stopped paying attention.
The truth is, I haven’t clicked on any of the articles or blog posts. I just skimmed the titles, snippets, and comments as I scrolled past, because I knew I was going to see the movie, and I didn’t want my head all lit up with the acrimony and disdain flung about on the Internets.
From what I can gather, though, people are mad because the new movie called “Ghostbusters” features female ghostbusters… of all things.
Oh, and they’re mad because Melissa McCarthy is the Grinch who stole Ghostbusters.
And to think that all this time, I’ve been oblivious, blithely unaware that ghost-busting was a male-dominated field in the first place. I guess there are a few remaining men-only jobs, including catching ghosts. As it happens, at least one of the ghostbusters in 2016’s movie does sweat the machismo. She just happens to be a woman. And no, I’m not talking about Melissa McCarthy. I’m talking about Kate McKinnon.
Kate McKinnon’s character, Jillian Holtzmann, is weird, bad-ass, and wildly exaggerated. She’s a caricature. She’s brash, in-your-face, and unpredictable. She reminds me a lot of Lori Petty’s Becca in Tank Girl (1995), another rollicking, campy action/comedy/sci-fi flick (which happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time). Tank Girl isn’t highly rated. Neither is Ghostbusters 2016. But there are cases of lower-rated movies that are fantastic, fun jaunts with cult movie potential, and these two are great examples. Ratings are irrelevant because we’re just there to have a good time. We’re not afraid of no bad reviews.
Becca in Tank Girl on the left. Dr. Jillian Holtzmann in Ghostbusters 2016 on the right. NOT UNLIKE.
The entire cast performed well, starting with Kristin Wiig’s character (Dr. Erin Gilbert) getting livid at Melissa McCarthy’s character (Dr. Abby Yates) and subsequently heading over to confront her. The two former best friends end up working together again, but not without the shade of their rift as the invisible third person in their duo. Leslie Jones’ character (Patty Tolan) brings the reality factor, and she does it with comedic aplomb. The dynamics between these four distinct personalities are amusing to watch.
Chris Hemsworth as the dumb blond secretary (Kevin Beckman) is hilarious, too, and also well-cast.
In our opinion, Ghostbusters 2016 is well-written with well-timed dashes of comedy. We loved the cameos and the setting of the digital world we now inhabit (Erin gets mad at Abby because of something she saw online). If the makers utilized CGI in the cheesiest way possible, they pulled it off as an effort that serves the movie well. This movie is supposed to be zany, not realistic.
Let’s be real. This is art, so it’s subjective. Not everyone will like this movie. But to go in already not liking it because the cast is female is unfair. Callaghan pointed out that women (especially as portrayed in movies) tend to be more attuned to the supernatural, which is true, from what I understand… so it makes sense that the ghostbusters are women. If The Conjuring’s paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren were to check out the haunted sites in the Ghostbusters movies, it would be Lorraine who’d experience most of the ghostastic crazy, and the craziest of it all, at that.
Callaghan can’t see the reason for the big deal because this new Ghostbusters plot barely resembles that of the first one, he says. As far as he can tell, this new one isn’t even a remake… it’s a different movie altogether. I have to trust him on this since I don’t remember much of the original’s story.
Ghostbusters 2016’s plot nods and winks at the old one more than copies it, and the nods and winks are as funny as hell.
Oh, and I’m a fan of Fall Out Boy’s cover of the theme song, too (featuring Missy Elliott).