I suppose any review of the remake of Ghostbusters has three things it needs to cover.
I'm going to start with the most distasteful first. If you're the sort of Neanderthal that is convinced women can't carry big budget movies and you hate this movie just because it's got four women rather than four men then just close this review now the comments are closed anyway. Thankfully the box office is proving you're a moron too. If you're not a bigoted moron, then feel free to keep on reading, please.
Second, because it's shorter really, it should be third logically. Is this a good remake? I would have to say yes. There are a number of scenes that are pretty much straight lifts from the original when that works without disrupting this film's flow, there are a number of well placed homages and cameos so old fogeys that remember the original fondly can go "Oh, look..." and it's clearly remaking the original without it being a scene-for-scene reshoot so it's not stuck with 32 year old material where they don't think that doesn't work so well. The only place I wish they'd stuck closer to the original was the soundtrack - I loathe the new theme song, I'm sorry, but I do. You may or may not already know this but all but one of the living core cast have cameo appearances. The late Harold Ramis' son is in the film instead, although I certainly didn't recognise him.
However, doing all those things doesn't necessarily mean the film is any good so, finally, and most importantly, does the film work on its own merits? This is harder because as a comedy it's ultimately a question of does it make you laugh. Mark Kermode says a good comedy film should make you laugh out loud at least six times. I didn't stop to count them but this film certainly did that for me, I'm pretty sure for all three of us that saw it together.
There is a plot but isn't actually important: it's more of a device to move from scene to scene where there's a chance to make you laugh, but it works nevertheless. By and large, between all the scenes, the script doesn't miss out on a form of humour from slapstick to fart jokes to reverse sexism to bad puns to visual humour and more. I suspect, because of this scattergun approach, you'll find elements where you feel it's not so funny and so it feels slow and elements which tickle your funny bone more and so feels faster. I know I did. However, the changes occur fast enough and the script mixes the styles well enough that there were, from memory, never three slow scenes in a row and rarely two, so I was never bored and the scenes where I wasn't laughing weren't bad because I could find some plot, some nice special effects and some satisfying character interaction to watch when I wasn't too busy laughing, at least once we'd got our first few ghostbusters together. There is also a satisfying big fight and a conclusion and the Ghostbusters save the day. Yay!
Perhaps alongside that is the new Hollywood Feminism's greatest exposure. There has been a bit of trend in recents months for a subset of female led US TV shows and now a major film to not actually rant and rave about its women doing things, they just portray them getting on with their jobs. Ghostbusters doesn't make anything of the fact that it's women, not men, doing this, except one little joke about the 'Ghostbros' MRA commentary on the internet. Given just how sexist Hollywood is, this is a bit rich some might say: women aren't in a lot of those jobs to "just get on with them" after all, but showing women doctors, assassins, cops, scientists and so on as it's starting to do more and more without making a fuss about it. Society, even in America actually has had women in all those roles, except possibly assassins, for a long time now after all, and the wheels haven't fallen off yet, despite what Fox News would have you believe. Sometimes, eventually, art imitates life.
It's worth saying, I did think this film could fail because one of the things that really made the original work, along with the script, was the apparent bond between the leads. Happily that is here with these four women and, as I've already hinted, it really helps here too.
I can't say whether you'll like this more than the original. I don't know how much you liked the original and judging how much you'll like a comedy is a really hard call because comedies are a much more personal thing than, say, an action movie where you tend to either be a fan of the genre or not. I was 19 when the original came out, maybe 20 when it was released in the UK, and I have fond memories of it. This, I think polished those and sits comfortably alongside it.
To return, somewhat, to my first point from a slightly different perspective. I haven't done really well for summer tentpole movies this year: Ghostbusters, Captain America: Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse are the only three really. Deadpool was a Valentine's Day release, although it's essentially got the structure of a blockbuster and I missed Batman v Superman (not that that's a bad thing apparently). Ghostbusters is, for me, clearly better than the other two big summer releases I've seen. It's quite hard for me to compare Ghostbusters - a movie that frankly must have been close to a PG and gets moved up because of references to a stripper pole and 'ordering a strip-gram' and loud screams - and Deadpool - a movie that must have been close to an 18 rating with 'strong, bloody violence throughout, frequent use of strong language, frequent visual and verbal strong sex references' - because although they're both action comedies they just appeal to completely different parts of my sense of humour. Deadpool will work 100% or 0% for you. Ghostbusters will work in parts for just about everyone who isn't irrationally prejudiced.
Bechdel test: It would take less time to count the scenes (there are a few) where it fails than those where it passes. There are 7 named female roles and 13 named male roles. Shocking really where the four main characters are women. Three of the four main characters are feel strongly drawn in. They're vibrant presences throughout the film. One of them is less vibrant in the film. She's there to be the butt of a lot of jokes and slimed a lot and perv on Kevin a lot. However, she is also the only character who gets a backstory so I suppose that makes her perhaps more the straight-woman for the jokes but in terms of actual character development better done than the rest.
Russo test: While Jillian Holtzmann has been coopted by the lesbian community as one of their own, and it's incredibly easy to see why especially the eye!sex scene with Erin Gilbert and the start of the handguns scene no, no one in New York is actually openly gay at all. Who knew!
[An unusual side note. We saw a trailer for a remake of The Magnificent Seven before the film. I'm not sure if we'll see the film, but I really wish they'd made that with an all female cast to see the MRA folks scream!]
The author does not allow comments to this entry