This is the first time I have decided a movie is a must-see after watching a bad trailer for it.
The backlash behind the release of the new Ghostbusters is very real, and has been going on for two years now. Leslie Jones, one of the leads, has been tweeting all day the horrible, hateful messages she has been getting (@lesdoggg, look into it). When the trailer came out, and it was weak (and it WAS weak), male commenters flooded YouTube and gave it the worst rating ever for a movie trailer. Mind you, the trailers for Gods of Egypt, Warcraft and the upcoming Kevin Spacey movie Nine Lives, in which he plays a man who magically changes places with a cat, are all out there. And that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head.
After this reaction, I realized the way I wanted to fight this toxic treatment of a movie starring a bunch of hilarious comics, who happen to be women, was to see it opening weekend. If it was terrible, I would get over it. I am already over seeing Independence Day: Resurgence. When I laughed out loud twice in the first minute of Ghostbusters, I knew I had made the right choice. The movie is VERY funny. I laughed continuously. But comedy is subjective. And it was more than just a funny movie.
There is a scene in Ghostbusters where Kate McKinnon, dressed in a loose jumpsuit, fights a bunch of ghosts in a way that can only be described as badass. (Spoiler alert: the Ghostbusters fight ghosts in Ghostbusters.) In slow motion, McKinnon runs and makes a bunch of ghosts sorry they ever came back to New York. It was at this point that I realized I had never seen a woman in a scene quite like this one. The only one I could think of was a highly sexualized Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix, but her costume was so tight, she may as well have been naked. (She was also very badass, and I love her). Honestly, I got a little misty in the McKinnon scene. It was just so — unique.
Like last year’s Mad Max: Fury Road, Ghostbusters makes no attempt to hide its feminist message. In Mad Max, Immortan Joe, the cruel warlord, storms into the room where he keeps his slave brides and sees “WHO KILLED THE WORLD” painted in large letters on the wall. (Hint: it was not the slave brides who killed the world.) I love this film, but this could hardly be considered a subtle message.
In Ghostbusters, the idiotic men who griped in various Internet message boards are in the movie. They are addressed and shrugged off or taken down by four of the funniest people on the planet. The villain is a carbon copy of these immature bullies. (Many of them did not appear to get the joke, and described the villain as “cookie cutter” and “bland.”) Two of the lead actors are larger than a size two and the movie never notices it, never makes a joke at their expense. In fact, one of the not-size-twos crowdsurfs at one point. I cannot imagine another movie having Melissa McCarthy be the one who crowdsurfs when Kristen Wiig is standing right next to her. (And even though Melissa McCarthy writes some of her own films, there are pretty much always fat jokes in them. The exception is Bridesmaids, also directed by Ghostbusters director Paul Feig.) The leads are smart, capable women, and most of the guys in the movie are buffoons who are in over their heads and try to stop them from helping. The mayor even devises a method by which he scolds the Ghostbusters publicly, while allowing them to solve his city’s problems and praising them in private. Any woman who has even been treated like crap by a partner or boss in public, or had a boss take credit for their work, noticed.
And then there is Chris Hemsworth. As the dim bulb secretary Kevin, he is not just hilarious. In any other movie, Kevin would be a woman’s role. She would be only comic relief. She would not have a discernible personality, or any hint of a brain. She would be the butt of jokes, and no one in the audience would ask, “Why did she have to be so dumb?” (a complaint I read in several comments and reviews) because it’s so common.
I found Ghostbusters to be incredibly subversive, and was so excited by this, combined with how genuinely funny I found it, that I did not care that McKinnon’s character was not well developed, or that the editing was sloppy or that the stupid reboot of the stupid theme song wasn’t great. Honest to God, the hills some people want to die on. The reboot of the Ghostbusters song, which was stolen from Huey Lewis originally — there was a lawsuit about it, I’m pretty sure — was not very good. Oh the humanity.
While leaving the theater, a father asked his two daughters what they thought of it. The young girls were both effusive in their praise. They asked their father if he liked it. He said, “No, it was terrible. I only went because I thought you’d like it.”
I wonder what he thought of Independence Day: Resurgence.
P.S. I agree with you that the cameos were all terrible.