Ghostbusters (2016)… Is This As Angry As I Can Get?

Everybody knows what the Ghostbusters is. It was the quirky, 1980’s comedy about 4 scientists in grey jumpsuits who hunt ghosts. They have a colourful car, unusual weapons and a funky theme tune. It also had a catchy tagline… Who ya gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS! Fantastic. I must confess that I had not seen the original until a few months ago but I did enjoy it. It was very reminiscent of the 1980’s which is my favourite
decade for both movies and music. I am not the only one that feels this way. Ghostbusters has become one of the most widely known film phenomenons to ever hit the silver screen and is very much considered a classic. And then, the rumours started floating around that there was going to be a sequel. That was not entirely correct. There was going to be another movie but it was going to be a reboot. This was a reboot in every sense of the word as the Ghostbusters were going to be women. I didn’t want to follow with the comments and predictions about the all female Ghostbusters, I wanted to see the movie and make up my own mind. Upon seeing the new film, I would like to add another little something to that very famous tagline that was on the movie poster. This Summer, Who Ya Gonna Call?… NOT THEM!

Now, we’ve all seen the reviews of the trailers (I particularly enjoyed the one with the Stay Puft Marshmallow man watching the trailer) and every single one of those reviewers said that they hated the trailer but it’s not because they are women. They’re right. It’s not because they’re women but it’s mainly because they are not the Ghostbusters. This film garnered such negative attention because the makers are fucking with a sacred formula. The original Ghostbusters was already perfect, there was no aspect of it that needed to be changed, least of all their gender. The fact that the Ghostbusters are men gives no significant arc to the story whatsoever and I can hear you all saying ‘So, why is it such a big deal that they are women now?’. It’s a big deal because in the reboot, the audience gets slapped with female-ness at every given opportunity. I particularly enjoyed one comment that was read out by one of the characters ‘Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts!’.

The reaction to the trailer threw up so much sexist and misogynistic garbage onto the internet which I totally don’t agree with but the reboot seemed to have been taking notes. This film is so sexist that I’m surprised no one has been offended. In the film, there are 4 female protagonists who have a business and have hired as a secretary a hot, young and really stupid man (Chris Hemsworth) who Dr Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) really wants to shag. In fact, when she meets him for the first time, before they get to the interview, she says ‘You’re hired’ and that is purely based on his looks. This is still sexism, just flipped the other way around but because they are women then that’s alright. How is that equality? Once I spotted that, I started seeing it everywhere. There is a reference from the
main villain (a man) who says that he has a load of spirits and that they are going to cleanse the garbage that is on earth and that they are ‘mostly dudes’. All the women want to save their hot secretary because they are ‘not going to find another one that pretty’. He is also referred to as a ‘flying beefcake’. But don’t worry, there’s sexism on both sides. When he is possessed, Kevin the secretary says ‘Women, always late’ and how they were probably figuring out which jumpsuit to wear. The writers of this film must have known that they would face a certain amount of backlash for not only remaking something that didn’t need to be remade but also radically changing it to something that no one asked for so I find it amazing that no one put their hand up and said ‘Maybe we shouldn’t put any
fuel on the sexism fire’. I’m not quite sure what a sexism fire would look like. It’s probably just a pile of freshly made scones and ironing.

Anyway, lets have a look at the plot. Dr Erin Gilbert is up for tenure at a university when she is fired after her superiors discover a book that she had written with a friend, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) about the existence of ghosts. Abby has joined forces with an eccentric engineer, Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). Erin shows the pair to Alderidge Mansion which apparently has a ghost. When they see a spirit and it pukes ectoplasm all over Erin, she fully believes in the existence of ghosts and becomes obsessed with catching one. Meanwhile Patty (Leslie Jones) is an MTA worker for a subway in New York City. She
see one of these ghosts and joins the Ghostbusters because she knows the city or more specifically, she knows the underground and she can get them a car from her uncle. The big bad is a bloke called Rowan who is a janitor at a decrepit hotel. He has a room in the basement that has loads of mirrors with evil spirits inside them and he plans to open up a portal to bring them through into the world of the living. After seemingly killing himself to avoid capture, he releases the demons and possesses the Ghostbusters handsome but ridiculously stupid secretary, Kevin Beckman (Hemsworth). A showdown of some
description takes place and the Ghostbusters are victorious. Whilst the government publicly discredit them, they secretly give them funding to continue their project.

I could have gone further into the plot but frankly, the film goes on far longer than it needs to and I found myself trying to do other things instead of actually watching the film.

I suppose I should mention the cameos. Yes, the original cast make small appearances in the film, whether they are contractually obliged to or not, I don’t know. Bill Murray is a paranormal debunker who goes after the Ghostbusters and is killed after Erin releases a ghost they caught in order to prove she is not a liar. Why she should give a toss what some random Johnny thinks, I don’t know. Dan Ackroyd is a taxi driver, Annie Potts is the rude hotel receptionist and Ernie Hudson is Patty’s uncle. Sigourney Weaver also makes a post-credit appearance as Holtzmann’s mentor. There is even a bronze sculpture of the late Harold Ramis. Then there is the cameo of ghosts. Slimer makes an appearance along with a gigantic Stay Puft marshmallow man. Those ones were mainly put in there for the fans of the original who didn’t go and see it.

Who could forget the classic theme tune which had to appear in the film by law. In fact, a section of the theme tune is the first piece of music played. But, what the makers forgot was that this was a reboot. There’s no context for it. We are not supposed to have even heard this music before and how it relates to the plot. The only significance that music has is to it’s infinitely better predecessors. Its as if the film is saying ‘Do you remember the original? You could be watching that instead of this pile of dross’.

As far as the ‘comedy’ goes, there’s not a lot to say. A good place to start would be that it’s not funny which is a pretty major problem for a comedy. Its a generic folding of slapstick humour and cringe worthy one liners that you’d find in a film starring Melissa McCarthy. At least the original Ghostbusters was somewhat grounded with an edge of seriousness. It knew how to scare the audience and then relax them with some humorous dialogue. You had to go searching for the comedy in the original which was part of the the pleasure of watching it. The reboot missed the point completely and beats the audience around the head with pushed and strained out comedy like a painful dump, it hurts while it’s happening and you’re relieved when its over.

With a production budget of $144 million and another estimated $100 million in marketing costs, the film took in a fragile $229 million, less than it needed to break even. However, upon release the film was showered with 5 star reviews which praised the acting, script and the comedy with the general criticism being that the CGI was overused and uninspired. When I read that, I couldn’t help but think that they were watching a different film. I also wondered if these were the female role models that kids were going to be exposed to, a bunch of bumbling stereotypes who win out of sheer dumb luck and have no absolving features or are even likeable at all. Linda Hamilton in Terminator is a better female role model, Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween is a better female role model and even Sigourney Weaver in Alien is a tremendous female role model. These are women who stand up against adversity and sort shit out, regardless of their gender or standing.

In summary, this film was always going to be a success regardless of the finished product. It was set up perfectly. I’ll say it again, the writers must have known that the all female cast would provoke an uprising from the dedicated and loyal fan-base, even if it did spark some unacceptable behaviour from a load of sexist and racist nutters. They knew that the film would get an audience who felt that they had to go and see it out of some moral obligation rather than the actual quality of the film. Anyone who questioned the new cast was immediately branded a sexist and a misogynist and their opinion wasn’t worth the time of day. I am a woman and this female cast pissed me right off.

I would have been kinder towards it if the film makers had said what they were going to do and make a sequel rather than a reboot. The fans may have been outraged because they were getting a whole new and unfamiliar Ghostbusters universe instead of a continuation of their beloved franchise. Even if it didn’t star the original cast, it would still have been the Ghostbusters. Lets say the Ghostbusters have long since retired in the 30 years since the last film. They want the Ghostbusters to continue so they hand the business down to their children, Two guys and two girls. There is your equality, the fans have a story-line that they can cling on to and everyone’s happy. To have an all female cast is just pushing the gender roles to the other end of the scale and the very notion of equality gets thrown out the window. The whole point of equality is that it takes both women AND men, not all one or all the other. I could sit here and hope that we as a civilisation would realise that fact and we could all progress to a happy and respectful society… but I seriously doubt it.

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