Since people *cough the internet cough* caught wind that the Ghosbusters reboot will have an all-female ensemble, it became a source of discussion and not-so-subtle gender-slash-racial bashing. Inevitably, it got mixed reviews after the release. And after watching it first hand, well, I do understand the divisive reactions it prompted.
When the old book paranormal activities she wrote resurfaced and threaten her reputation in Columbia University, Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) searched for the co-author, Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). This lead to her, Abby, and Abby’s paranormal research partner, nuclear engineer Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), to investigate a haunted mansion.
Once subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) and the handsomely dumb receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) joined, the Ghostbusters begin their work to stop a ghost invasion in Manhattan,
Truth be told, I think this movie reaped some unfounded and undeserved hate simply for having an all-female cast. Probably from butthurt fans, or run of the mill straight-white-cisgender-male who are threatened by this movie, or a combination of both. Inevitably, Ghostbusters was saddled with the task of satisfying those who have high hopes for it, proving a movie with all-female casts could succeed on box office, and change the opinions of those who viewed this movie with distaste. It honestly feels like this movie was set to fail, because there is no way in hell it could do all that, at once.
Really, though, it didn’t.
Oh it was entertaining, fun and gripping enough for a summer movie. And I enjoyed it thoroughly. But that’s mostly because I had the mindset of watching one elaborate meta jokes about gender roles in the silver screen. It was such a delight, watching Chris Hemsworth took the “dumb blonde and pretty receptionist” role normally assigned for female. Not to mention all those jokes on the expense of his looks and egregious bod, or the unnecessary gratuitous screen time for the eye-candy. This isn’t just a movie starring a gender-bend version of the original Ghostbusters team, it’s practically an alternate universe where male characters are treated the way female characters usually are!
Even if we dismissed that notion and took Ghostbusters at face value, it still was a decent movie. Its guilt are not worse than most summer movies: blatant three-act structure, too many two-dimensional characters, and villain of the week with nonthreatening end of the world scheme. Still it prevailed, keeping a fast pace and tight grip on the excitements. It provided enough fun and distractions, through witty dialogues and amusing acts. Enough for us to overlook its shortcoming and enjoy the ride. Which, you know, is easier said than done when there’s so many skepticism and bias floating around. It’s easy to turn a blind eye and brand this a bad movie simply because you’re not in on the jokes or because, somehow, a typical feel good movie is okay when it’s about a group of male but is a fucking disaster when it’s telling the story of a group of female.
Speaking of, I would love to say that said group of female were strongly written with complicated characterization, giving spacious room for each actresses to grow and play with their respective character. Unfortunately, it’s not. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones all were great in bringing their character to life. And while none of them felt like a token or comic relief, they still were limited and not as explored as much as I hoped for. I mean, I know this a live-action comedy and not some deep character-driven narrative. Still I would love to know more about them, instead of just knowing about their paranormal obsession or what function they wield in the Ghostbusters. Like, sure their life revolved around this ragtag team of ghost-catcher, but do they really have no life outside of that???
The thing is, it was such a wasted potential, because it support a cast who are more than capable to shine. Show them having a little life outside this project, humanized them, present them as real person with real problem, and you could easily win a lot of people over. Focused a little on how Erin got saddled with more pressure to prove herself because she is a female in a male-dominated field like physic science, for example. Show all four of them having to deal with the prejudice on not only working on a scorned focus, but also being female. And being framed as unstable attention seeking beings, on top of that! The least they could do, is elaborate on why the fuck all four of them are interested in paranormal activities. WITH MORE EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT. Shit, I’d pay for more Holtzmann and Patty!
Still, kudos to Chris Hemsworth for taking the role of Kevin and portraying him with such glee. Thank you for that dance routine at the end, Kevin!
So no, Ghostbusters wasn’t perfect and it’s not good enough to debunk all the criticism it received. But it still was a decently enjoyable movie with an inspired insight. Katie Dippold and Paul Feig provided a creative narrative and subtle jokes concerning gender roles, but it would be so much better if they put as much effort on the plot. At the end of the day though, it was likeable and entertaining. A good albeit a little shaky start for an ever growing franchise…. and hopefully a trend of female-centric movies. Most importantly, it showed that badassery and brain come in all sizes and shapes. Which made Ghostbusters more than good enough for me.
Director: Paul Feig. Writers: Katie Dippold & Paul Feig. Released on: 22 July 2016. Casts: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth.