Anyone who’s spent any kind of time with me knows I am a huge fan of the original. I saw it in theaters in 1984 and it sparked a love of comedy that has embedded itself in my DNA. It was the funniest movie I had ever seen and I was deeply in love with all the characters. I know every single line (just ask the poor souls who sat next to me when I watched it at Bryant Park last summer). As I got older, I would study the movie as an example of impeccable comedic writing, chemistry and timing. To me, the original Ghostbusters is the perfect movie.
So when I heard another Ghostbusters movie was officially in the works, I was devastated. Why mess with perfection? Why tarnish the legacy of the best movie ever made? Ghostbusters II already sucked so hard I had to delete it from my memory. Hadn’t they learned from their mistakes? And then I learned that it was to star four ladies. Holy shit. This will be a disaster and the morons who claim women aren’t funny will view it as validation.
Determined to keep an open mind, I avoided the hype for months. I would see headlines and hear chatter and actively ignore it. People would ask me what I thought about the fact that it stars female comedians. “I’m holding my opinion until I see it.” (Alas, the internet was not so restrained.) So to say the stakes were high for me would be an understatement. They weren’t just redoing my favorite movie, they had to make it good under the weight of insane misogyny in an industry I hold dear. How on earth were they going to pull this off?
Earlier today, a few of us lady comedians gathered together, crossed our fingers, took a deep breath and bought tickets. The reviews seemed to be good based on glimpses of headlines that were impossible to ignore. I had hope.
It was impossible not to compare it to the original so I stopped resisting. And indeed, it hits a bunch of the same marks. It gives a lot of nods to fans of the original. But it’s so not like other movies. Normal action movies have female characters who are either sexy idiots or evil bitches – occasionally they will throw in a sexy young scientist as if to say: see ladies, here’s your smart female character, a scientist lady who has perfect hair and wears a tight dress three inch heels to the smart person lab where she works. Ooh, I’m placated. Finally, a character I can relate to. I wonder if she’ll take off her glasses and be naked soon. Yawn. Then there has to be a love interest to motivate the main dude character. This movie flips that script with such incredible grace. All the male characters are either morons or evil geniuses. How does that feel, gentlemen?
As a little girl, I didn’t have a lot of female characters I could try to emulate. You know who I looked up to when I was little kid? Marion from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Her super power was drinking dudes under the table. And she owned a dank bar. I hadn’t seen that in a movie. Definitely not ideal but she seemed so much more badass and capable than say, Willie from Temple of Doom, which was the female character I was more used to seeing. Ghostbusters is a movie that gives little girls someone to emulate. These chicks are smart and strong and funny and they’re not catty, mean or existing for the pleasure of men. These are the women we want our daughters to be. I want little girl Ghostbuster costumes to be the number one seller at Halloween. We need this.
They never mention having boyfriends or husbands or romance at all. What? They are just smart and capable on their own? Yes. They even hire a hot guy because he’s hot. What’s that, boys? You don’t like being objectified and ogled? You must not have a sense of humor. Relax, it’s just a joke.
There are a few meta lines in the movie about reading hateful internet comments but the fact that they are all women is never mentioned by the main characters. They never say “Hey! We saved the city and our periods all synced up. LOL.” There’re no stupid lines about being women because you don’t need stupid lines about being women. There are no jokes about spanx or how hard it is to hold a purse and a proton pack. There’s no mention of lipstick or periods or pregnancy. The only lines that are clichéd stupid women jokes are from male characters who, as mentioned, are either evil or stupid. The actresses in this movie follow a fantastic formula: Work hard. Be funny.
Other notes about the movie: It’s action-packed and yes, the plot is kind of ridiculous, but name me an action movie that doesn’t have a few plotholes. I was more distracted by it taking place in NYC and being so obviously not shot in NYC. They could have probably edited out 10 minutes of the action sequences and it would have been fine.
The filmmakers made some incredibly smart choices for this movie – the best of which was the casting. It was an inspiration to see women in comedy doing the kind of comedy I want to be doing. We’re funny and we’re going to keep being funny. Yes, as funny as the boys. And it will be okay, I promise. We need to live in a world where we can all be funny together. Fellow female comedians: this one is for us. Men, if you see this movie as a threat, you have no idea what you’re actually afraid of.
We left the theater so pumped. It’s just pure fun. I am so relieved and happy. It’s a different movie from the first and my heart is big enough to love both. One launched a lifelong love comedy and the other made me proud to be a woman in comedy. And Ghostbusters II never happened.