When I first heard of a new Ghostbusters movie, I figured it would be a rehash of the old movie with guy actors, where they wouldn’t really do anything new except update the humor with present day gags. I had no plan to watch it at all until I discovered the twist: four female leads with some of my favorite comedians playing the lead roles. WHAT. I immediately looked for trailers, but sadly the trailers were not mixed well, and weren’t all that enticing. But this was written by Paul Feig, Katie Dippold, and directed by Paul Feig– that seemed like a good combination. Even if the trailers were bad, surely, they couldn’t ruin an entire movie? So I decided to give it a chance.
Heavens was I glad I did. The movie blew me away with its wonderfully tasteful humor, fantastic leads, great side characters, a ridiculous but great plot, and solid good fun. I hadn’t had that much fun in a movie in a long time.
The movie begins with a tour guide, while he’s closing up shop, encountering a particularly malevolent ghost. The scene cuts to Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) in the physics hall practicing for her first lecture for that term. Here is where the adventure starts, where Erin is forced by circumstances to meet up with her old friend, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and Abby’s new partner, the engineer/inventor Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). During their investigations of ghost sightings, the three meet Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) the historian, who works as a subway clerk. Patty joins the team because of her knowledge of New York City and its history. This is a perfect combination in my eyes! Two scientists, an engineer, and a liberal arts historian.
All of the members of the group mattered, each with their own important contributions to their goals. Their roles impacted the plot in interesting ways, and the friendships they built were fabulous and important. Even Kevin, the somewhat intelligence-deficient secretary, had a role in the group, and the team cared about him. If harassment happened, it got called out and rightly so. Folks didn’t try to stop them from doing their work because they were women; instead, for once, the folks trying to stop them did it for reasons unrelated to gender.
The humor punched up and the jokes were smart and tasteful, which is exactly what I want out of a comedy but is often so hard to find. Plus, this movie hit on some important issues and explored them in an interesting, humorous, and respectful way. I’d say more, but I don’t want to give away spoilers in this review.
Also, the cast of background characters such as the civilians, police, national guard, and FBI were a wide variety of races. Since this is New York City, this was an important backdrop detail that they did well, and I greatly appreciated.
I also really enjoyed hearing Patty’s wonderfully detailed history knowledge of various parts of the city. This added such a depth to her character and subverted the stereotype of black characters portrayed as punchy, one-liner sidekicks.
Overall, I highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys great humor and a fun romp. I loved this movie, laughed out loud along with other movie-goers, and at one point nearly everyone in the theater cheered. It’s just that fun.
Representation really does matter, and this movie will bring in a whole new generation of fans to the Ghostbuster universe. This new Ghostbusters movie does not erase the existence of the other movies. Instead, it expands the universe and shares it with more people, adding more diversity and allowing young girls and LGBTQIA folks to see themselves as a ghostbuster. For them to feel like they matter too. Sharing this universe doesn’t mean white, cisgender, straight guys lose their childhood — they don’t as the old movies still exist and are still relevant to the universe. Sharing doesn’t mean taking something away. It means you get to share the joy and fun of a universe with more people. And that’s a good thing.
Oh, and stay till the end of the credits. The reference made will delights those who know the Ghostbuster universe well.