I didn’t like Ghostbusters. No, it isn’t because they were women. No, it isn’t because they remade a classic film. To tell the truth I think the original Ghostbusters is good not great and nowhere near the untouchable status people seem to afford it. I didn’t like it because it’s the third movie I’ve seen in a month that exhibits all the same problems that the modern comedy possesses, the first two being The Boss and Central Intelligence. The awkward improv, the boring cinematography/blocking, immature humour (there is a fart/queef joke) and the completely weightless action scene climax. If you like modern comedy films then you’ll enjoy this if you don’t then come and join the resistance. We need the numbers. All that being said, this film isn’t deserving of the level of hate it has received.
The story is the gang (Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones), along with their hot bimbo secretary Chris Hemsworth, get together to fight the patriarchy- I mean ghosts. They fight ghosts. The villain is a guy who’s been abused and subjugated his entire life so he wants to unleash an army of ghosts on the world as revenge. The team must try to stop him while also combatting the public’s skepticism about ghosts and their ability to bust them.
So here’s the million dollar question. Are the female ghostbusters funny? The answers are no, no, kinda and yes. Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig are two incredibly talented comedians who drag this movie down with their brand of inane chatter. I know I’ve said all this before but this is so tied to their performance that I have to say it again. I can’t believe this has to keep being said but here goes. RANDOM CONVERSATIONS AREN’T COMEDY. ALL COMEDY SHOULD BE TIED TO PLOT/CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. And again it has the same knock on effects that it always has. It paralyses the camera, thus limiting the capacity for visual storytelling/ comedy leaving the characters and the film at large feeling pretty hollow.
Then we come to Kate McKinnon as new Egon and while I wasn’t a huge fan of her character at least she had a character. At least she tried to be visually engaging with her comedy. Full of expression is how I would describe her and I am quietly looking forward to seeing her work in the future. Leslie Jones is the ghostbuster who I think is funny without having to put an asterisk next to her. She’s playing the Ernie Hudosn role well and to tell the truth is a lot more dynamic than Hudosn ever was. My favourite scene with her is when she’s looking for a ghost and she’s running through all the things that can go wrong, she stumbles across a room full of mannequins and just says no. Most of the really good situational comedy comes from Leslie Jones and really helps her to standout.
But, and I can’t believe this is how it turned out, the funniest character in the all-female lead cast of Ghostbusters, is Chris Hemsworth. He plays their dumb secretary who doesn’t know how a phone works and is a perfect example of how to do random comedy well. All of it makes sense with his character. It’s all tied to being remarkably dumb and immensely attractive. His utter devotion to the role as well works wonders. There is a joke with him and a couple of saxophones that had me howling with laughter at how utterly stupid it was. Bravo Hemsworth. Bravo.
Now that we’ve gotten performances out of the way let’s dive into the wonderful wacky world of gender politics. Because I’ve always wanted to be burned in effigy in a Tumblr forum. So in reaction to the reception this got on the internet the film seemed to double down on the “Womens is cool too” message and created the glorious female master race. There is not a single male character in this movie who is a combination of nice and competent. They are either the oppressor or the lesser. The film actually links supernatural scepticism to misogyny, which is a cool idea if it wasn’t so blatant about it. Melissa McCarthy might as well have come to my house and kicked me in the dick when she was delivering her monologues about how the internet doesn’t know shit. I agree that the internet doesn’t know shit but don’t just tell me the internet doesn’t know shit. Show me the internet doesn’t know shit by focussing on making a good movie. Was this really necessary? It’s reactionary and I understand the emotions behind it. But perhaps the film should have tried to be the bigger person and rather than joining the game of one-upmanship, perhaps tried to create a film where both genders are on equal footing? No? Okay then.
In conclusion Ghostbusters (2016) is not the terrible movie that it was cracked up to be. It suffers from all the problems that the modern comedy suffers from to a lesser extent and its gender politics are petty-minded. But it’s nowhere near the worst thing you could go see in the cinema this summer.
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