… which, holy shit, that’s a double entendre, isn’t it? And it took me 32 years to notice it? Okay, now my childhood’s ruined.
Here’s the clearest indication that I enjoyed Ghostbusters: the main characters’ names are Abby Yates, Erin Gilbert, Jillian Holtzmann, and Patty Tolan. The receptionist’s name is Kevin, and I don’t think he had a last name.
I need you to understand this about me: I don’t remember the names of fictional people. I can read entire books and be able to describe the plot in close detail and have trouble recalling the main character’s name. I can almost never remember the names of any of the leads of movies. And I know all five of the major characters in this film. First and last names. That’s freaking amazing. It shouldn’t be the case, but it is.
I didn’t initially want to see Ghostbusters, not because I thought it would Destroy my Childhood– that’s not a real thing– but because I thought it was an unnecessary remake. The first film is sacred to me, but its sacrality has not led to me seeing the second film more than perhaps twice, so I can’t really pretend I have any loyalty to the franchise. And there are no Marvel superheroes in this movie, so ignoring it would be well within my established prior practice. Then I looked around and decided I’d rather change my mind than be on the same side of some of the people who agreed with me about not seeing it, and then I laughed my ass off at the first trailer. And then I saw the movie on opening night, a thing I haven’t done in, literally, years.
This movie’s funny as hell and you should watch it. If Kate McKinnon isn’t the funniest motherfucker alive– can I call a woman that? What if she’s gay?– I don’t know who it is, and Leslie Jones is funny as fuck too. Also notable is Chris Hemsworth’s performance; I’ve enjoyed his Thor but I seriously had no idea that the guy could be as funny as he is in this movie.
You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the putative leads yet, Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig. I know little about Wiig, but I’ve seen McCarthy in other stuff and she has annoyed me. Honestly, I thought the two of them were among the weaker bits of the movie. They have their moments, certainly, but they don’t do “smart” as well as McKinnon does– she is the perfect mad scientist– and many of McCarthy’s lines in particular read like the kind of dialogue that dumb people write for smart people to say. “You did not disclose that the vehicle in question would be a hearse!” or whatever it was, for example. Wiig forgets that she’s supposed to be a physicist about fifteen minutes into the movie and there’s no real need for her to remember it since someone has to be the straight woman and be the butt of all the ghost-vomit jokes. I didn’t dislike her, but she’s not a reason to see the movie.
I do find myself wishing that Patty could have been an academic– either also or maybe flip her role with one of the other women. I think the idea of a Ph.D candidate in New York history working for the MTA could have worked, for example. But Patty is a fun character and the Sassy Black Woman stereotype we were all worried about is dialed back about as far as it can go.
Interestingly, this film shares its biggest flaw with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. TFA’s worst moments all involved the characters from the original trilogy. Similarly, Ghostbusters is at its worst when it’s trying to remind us that all of the actors from the original films (except for Rick Moranis, who quit acting years ago) supported the project. Other than the nice touch of putting a bust of Harold Ramis outside Erin Gilbert’s office, the only cameo that wasn’t insanely distracting was Annie Potts. Murray and Aykroyd, in particular, brought the movie to a screeching halt the three times they were on screen. And then once you realize what’s going on, and that they’re all gonna show up, you spend the movie watching for the next one, and it’s distracting as hell.
Other than that, though, and Paul Feig’s moderately annoying habit of cutting to Kate McKinnon’s or Leslie Jones’s reaction to every line someone else says (make it part of the drinking game) it’s a hell of a movie. The villain is interesting– he’s basically a GamerGater who has lucked into some supernatural physics– the effects are fun, and some of the shit they get up to with the proton packs and the other weapons Holtzmann comes up with are awesome fun. There’s a great stinger at the end of the movie, too, even if the film should have ended with the line “I love this town!” like the first one did.
(Yes, I know what I just said about the first movie. But they set up that line and then don’t deliver it. They shoulda, dammit.)
I wanna marry Kate McKinnon, guys. I know; I’m married and she’s gay. Realistically, though, if you think about it, neither of those two things really have much of any effect on my chances, so I figure I’m free to dream on that point. Then again, I’ve never seen her in anything other than this movie, so maybe it’s the possibly-straight-but-I-doubt-it Jillian Holtzmann who I want to marry. She’s not real. That doesn’t affect my chances much either, I guess.
This movie is funny and you will like it so go see it.