I'll admit it. I was going to see the new Ghostbusters no matter what, just to make sure I was doing my part to make this movie a hit. The virulently misogynist reaction from the more horrible corners of the internet since this project was announced made me lose a bit more faith in humanity and I was determined to do my part to fight back against the awful sentiment that women taking part in a remake like this some how ruins it. So, I sat down in the theater having already accomplished my goal by just buying my incredibly expensive ticket, and low and behold, I also got to see a really funny movie.
The plot is pretty much the same as the Original Ghostbusters - a few scientists band together to capture ghosts and eventually they have to fight a really big ghost. That's really not where the enjoyment comes from though, because like the original films, this one thrives on the talent and personality of the characters. Melissa McCathy and Kristen Wiig give surprisingly subdued performances that still maintain the improvisation and likability that have been hallmarks or their success. Their friendship and chemistry grounds the film and makes room for the scene stealing done by Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, both playing two very smart and very funny characters that I had so much fun rooting for. McKinnon especially is a break out here with both her wackiness and incredible badassery in the film's finale. The character that had me laughing the most though was Chris Hemsworth as Kevin, the dumber than a rock receptionist that turns every "stupid hottie" cliche on its head. Hemsworth was obviously having the time of his life with this and had me howling over and over.
The mix of scares, laughs and action was the key to the success of the original Ghostbusters and that's what makes this version really succeed as well. There were some surprisingly creepy moments and a lot of very very funny ones. The one place I feel things fell short was in the direction of the action-heavy sequences, which lacked tension and urgency and left a lot of moments that should have been exciting just feeling a bit flat. The art direction and design on the ghosts as well has been updated with a color palette that reminded me a bit too much of The Haunted Mansion (the terrible movie, not the ride) and is the one place this version really suffers in comparison to the practical effects and faded, double-exposure palette of the original that made the ghosts seem much more real. I loved many of the cameos from the old cast that snuck in, but a few of them did feel a bit forced.
The triumph in this movie though is the subtle feminist message. Our new Ghostbusters aren't defined by being women, but it's an important part of who they are and how they are treated by the world. The way they are dismissed (mainly by the mayor is a very funny turn by Andy Garcia) and ignored is something every woman can relate to and the film's villain - a doughy white guy who thinks he's smarter and better than the "bullies" that have dismissed him is a perfect avatar for every man who's ever complained about the friend zone as well as the sad creatures that started a campaign of hate against this movie before the first frame was shot.
Ghostbusters is an important movie to see, because we fangirls need and want more movies like this: movies lead by women, that don't rely on love stories, that teach us in subtle ways, and show how diverse characters can kick some ass. But it's also a fun movie to see that honors and expands on the original and will leave you happy and laughing all the way through the credits...and also totally in love with Kate McKinnon. I'd give her a call any time.