Trolls have had their claws out for Paul Feig’s all-female Ghostbusters reboot since it went into production. Can the comic firepower of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon prove them wrong?
“Ain’t no bitches going to bust no ghost.” This remark could have come straight from the comments section of the ‘most disliked trailer in YouTube History’ aka the promo for Paul Feig’s all-female Ghostbusters reboot. But it’s actually a line delivered by Melissa McCarthy’s character as she reads the online reactions to her work as a paranormal investigator. It’s perhaps no coincidence that the antagonist of Ghostbusters is an angry white male, highlighting an awareness of the challenges this gender-appropriated remake of Ivan Reitman’s cherished 80s classic faced from inception.
This new Ghostbusters is finally here and it’s a resounding success, not only demonstrating that women are just as good as men at catching ghosts, but also that Paul Feig is one of mainstream cinema’s most important filmmaking talents. In recent years no one has done more to amplify female voices in mainstream Hollywood this writer-directors.
His films have consistently positioned female actors in roles traditionally dominated by men, reworking well-worn genres like the buddy movie (Bridesmaids), the cop movie (The Heat) and espionage thriller (Spy), infusing them with a unique comedic sensibility without being patronising or pandering to stereotype. These sharp comedies have seemingly laid a path for a film that finds its achievement in establishing the all-female lead cast of McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon as simply characters in an action movie; at no point does Ghostbusters feel like it wants to be a women’s action film.
This new imagining of Ghostbusters walks the fine line between remaining faithful to the spirit of the original while cultivating its own personality. Fan service requires there be numerous cameos and in-jokes, which could easily have distracted from this film’s unique energy. The crowning achievement of Feig’s riotous comedy, however, is its embracing framework: conciliating the demands of diehard fans with those desperate to see more female leads at the multiplex. (Although it’s worth remembering that not all fanboys are boys.)
Ghostbusters won’t resolve the issue of gender inequality in Hollywood, or abate the streams of rampant online misogyny, but the thought of scores of young girls growing up with their own proton packs suggests it could be a groundbreaking moment in Hollywood history.
Released by Sony