In a divisive take on a decades-old format, Ghostbusters (2016) is a breath of fresh air. For a film that was so excessively maligned by a specific portion of the internet before its release, Ghostbusters takes an original concept and runs with it.
Although it may not have the ‘true iconic brilliance’ of the originals (not my words), this film revolutionises the genre and passes the Bechdel Test ten times over. The original may be fine, yes, but this film is an absolute blast!
We’re in New York. Dr Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a physics professor at Columbia University. Once a serious ghost theorist, her world is thrown off-kilter when a man visits her with a copy of Ghosts of Our Past, the book she co-wrote with her best friend Abigail Yates (Melissa McCarthy) many years previously. Erin, however, was under the impression that said book had been destroyed, and goes to find Abby for an explanation.
Along the way, she encounters Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) and the four women team up to prove the existence of ghosts once and for all. They also manage to save New York from a homicidal genius who wants to create the Fourth Cataclysm, but that is another story.
The divisive portion of the Ghostbusters tale comes from the decision to cast four very funny women (all part of the Saturday Night Live cast) as the leads. These women are not exactly the type that one would expect to be action heroes, but they do just fine all the same. What is so wonderful about Ghostbusters is that it takes these ordinary women and makes them action heroes.
It is wholeheartedly rare to see women as anything more than tokenized characters in action films, but all of these women are three-dimensional and beautiful to watch. For once, I could see myself as one of the characters. For once, I could be a Ghostbuster. We’re not all Emily Blunt or Angelina Jolie, and our films need to respect that.
Female friendship is treasured in this film. Female-led ensemble comedies have a tendency to victimise other women for their choices, and there is none of that here. These women don’t fight over men, don’t create arguments out of nothing, and genuinely appear to care for each other.
Comedy and horror are balanced beautifully within this piece. Although it is clearly meant to be more of a comedy-horror than a horror-comedy, there are genuine scares and moments of tension. The sublime pacing works well to keep this 134 minute movie running smoothly. While the CGI ghosts are certainly interesting-looking, they keep this film feeling unique.
It may not be equatable to certain filmic paragons of our time, but it is wholeheartedly enjoyable. It’s hilarious, it’s positive, and the soundtrack is phenomenal.
Ghostbusters (2016) is a family movie that doesn’t suffer from the stale sexism and bad pacing of the original. It might be a light comedy, but it’s one hell of a fun one.
Five out of five stars.