By Cassie V (Eastchester, NY, US)
Okay, so wow…I was totally not going to write anything regarding this movie. Until it actually came out, I didn’t even really want to see it. I never saw the original (a miracle, having grown up one of the youngest children in my family with a bunch of older male relatives who probably saw every blockbuster in existence) and so my interest in the remake was almost nonexistent…
Until I started hearing reviews from friends and reading about the public response online.
For the most part, it was positive. People loved the storyline and the comedy and the actresses who played the four main roles (all four of whom, I am a huge fan) and the music and it was just…really attractive. To hear so much positivity about a movie that, for months, was ridiculed and somewhat dreaded by so many people who were crying over their ‘lost childhood’s just because the cast for this movie just happened to be female. Give me a break.
What made it even sweeter, though, were the negative reviews. The ones where adult men raged and threw fits over the fact that the men in the movie seemed to all be some kind of joke and how they had absolutely no good representation. The reviews where men pointed out things that were just not ‘believable’ or ‘funny’ to women—like the queef joke in the first ten minutes, which I actually found quite hilarious—and the men that attempted to attack talented actresses like Leslie Jones.
These reviews actually are the ones that sparked my interest because I couldn’t even fathom how bad a movie had to be to garner this kind of response. I was so interested in finding out and so I invited my dad and my brother out for a movie night at the theater just a short ride from our house. I was actually quite surprised that they’d even want to see it, considering they had both made jokes about the movie—mainly about the new cast—and had both liked the original one.
People can surprise you, I guess. So can movies.
Despite my original reticence to see the reboot of a movie I’d never seen before, I actually found myself enjoying this film and nearly every aspect of it. From the way the characters all looked and acted different from one another, to the way they respected each other for these differences and worked together to save the city from the paranormal. Each character had her own strengths and weaknesses and there were no jokes made at the expense of another. And I was so shocked to see that none of them had been sexualized in any way, shape, or form. It was so foreign to me and, looking back, it’s almost sad to think that I had been expecting something like that.
If you’re reading this and you still have not yet seen this movie, then I must warn you that there are some spoilers below so read at your own discretion.
Let’s start with the characters, shall we?
First on the scene is Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), who is, quite possibly, the biggest nerd I have ever seen and I love her. She’s fantastic. She has her own unique style and has so many different sides to her, but they just…fit. Before joining the Ghostbusters, Erin was teaching at Columbia University (which is a huge deal for me, considering I never even hoped of getting accepted to Columbia; I’m pretty sure they would have used my application as toilet paper, it’s so fancy and scholarly) and she was up for a tenure position before things started happening and she was pretty much tossed out for finding a ghost (unfairly, I might add).
After that, she kind of gets into the groove of things with her old friend, Abby Yates, and Abby’s partner/assistant, Jillian Holtzmann. Not long after that, they add Patty Tolan to the team and despite being a former Columbia University professor (which, believe me, is plenty to brag about), Erin respects everybody’s opinions and never acts superior or better than any of them. She’s also this big, awkward dork when it comes to their bird-brained secretary, Kevin (played by Thor), but it doesn’t stop her from kicking some ghost ass when the occasion calls for it.
Next, we have Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), who is another genius, badass lady who had dedicated her life to catching and studying ghosts, despite likely facing ridicule for it. Even when she struggles to make ends meet in a low-paying job, she doesn’t give up. It’s actually because of her that the Ghostbusters come together; by listing a book that she and Erin had co-written on Amazon, threatening Erin’s tenure case. But Erin forgives her quickly after they find and film a real live ghost, just as Abby forgave her for “abandoning” her and their partnership. Throughout the movie, Abby plays a kind of leadership role to the rest of them. She is kind of Holtzmann’s mentor and keeps a pretty level head whenever their research is questioned (unlike Erin, who jumps at the chance to prove that ghosts are real to a ‘debunker’) and puts so much effort and focus into saving the city from ghosts, but she’s not a complete bore or anything. She’s as quirky as the rest of them and I think that’s great.
I’d also like to take a moment to thank everybody involved in the production of the movie that there was not ONE JOKE about the weight or size or anything like that about any of these women. I’ve seen so many movies with all-male casts where they all gang up on the fat guy for his size and he’s the constant butt of the joke for both his friends and the audience. Thank you for not doing that here. As a big girl, I appreciate it.
Now, for my personal favorite; Dr. Jillian Holtzmann, or “Holtz” (Kate McKinnon). Now, it may be because I have a huge crush on the beauty known as Kate McKinnon, or it could be the fact that Holtz was quite possibly the most relatable character for me, personally, but I absolutely fell in love with her from the first second she introduced herself and flirted (heavily) with Erin. Holtz is a genius, like the rest of them, and she’s also weird and incredibly quirky and very good with her hands…
Also, she’s gay. Very gay. Like, as I’ve already pointed out, she flirts with Erin the second they first meet (using the cliché “come here often?” pickup) and continues to just be oddly seductive the entire movie, with her tinted glasses, huge goggles, and unique wardrobe. Holtz is likely not meant to be a “sexy” character, but she just…is. There’s something about her that is just so damn attractive to me—and to plenty other wlw I imagine. Now, I have to actually say that her sexually was never directly addressed, nor was it explicitly confirmed, but there is no denying Holtz’s flirty vibes towards Erin.
Also, Kate is gay so why can’t her character be as well.
Holtz is also pretty bad ass and has a ghost fighting scene that made me simultaneously swoon and feel powerful as all heck. Like DAMN. I felt my heart racing and my spine tingling and I just wanted to watch it over and over again. I felt exactly the same the second time and it was glorious. But, as badass as Holtz is, she’s also very complicated and mentions, during an end-of-movie speech, that Abby is her first real friend which makes me desperate to hear her backstory (or create one of my own for her, as a writer, and then pitch it to Paul Feig for the sequel). All in all, Holtzmann is just a fantastic character and Kate’s portrayal of her was amazing.
Last, but not least, to join the main GB team is Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), who is the glue that literally holds this movie together. Seriously. They would not have figured out a LOT of things without her. She is the first civilian to see a ghost and she identifies Rowan (the main bad guy) and helps the others with the history of the city (because she is a badass historian and reads hella nonfiction). Also, she’s incredibly sweet and her first scene has her greeting the commuters from her MTA booth in the subway. The Ghostbusters all respect her and accept her into their group as an asset. Hell, she provides both their costumes and the car they use to get around. Patty is just plain awesome and Leslie Jones does an awesome job of portraying her. She’s funny and tough and just…indescribably cool. Leslie Jones deserves only love for this character.
Patty is affectionate—especially with Holtzmann, but who wouldn’t be—and literally just wants to help. She’s almost pretty street smart and would definitely survive a horror movie (which she proves in the basement of The Mercado). The trailers kind of had her looking like the ‘streetwise black girl’ but she is so much more than that and I actually really love that they didn’t boil her down to just that.
Now, I’ve heard a lot of complaining about the male characters in this movie and I have to laugh because men just cannot handle jokes being made at their expense, can they? And they’re not really jokes. I mean, we’ve got the dumb blonde secretary trope, Kevin (Thor), who the ladies still adore despite him being no help in the office at all. He’s basically eye candy for Erin (the others don’t seem to find him all that attractive, though Holtz finds him particularly amusing) and his bits are hilarious because he’s just so empty-headed. But they still risk their lives to save him—and NYC. Rowan, the resident bad guy, is a freak who thinks that he’s better than everybody else and plots to destroy everybody. Also, he’s a raging misogynist and I love how that was one of his character traits because it’s really big to show that that’s a trait you do not want to share with anybody, let alone a villain who literally tried to kill everybody.
The mayor is useless. Like there is no doubt. Ever see Jaws? Yeah, he’s that useless. He does nothing to save the city, even after all the warnings he gets from the GB’s and by Erin herself. I’m actually surprised he survived the tiny ghost apocalypse, but that was probably the doing of his assistant, Jennifer (Cecily Strong), who is the real brains and who, in my opinion, deserves the title of mayor in the next movie. Although, she’s actually quite sketchy and handles press like a pro to make the GB’s look crazy. I would still enjoy seeing her more than that mayor though. No doubt.
The relationships and the plot and the characters and just…everything was so well worked out. My only complaint is that I wanted it to be longer, so that we could get more in depth background stories and maybe even see more of Holtzmann flirting with Erin and hear more about the history of New York City from Patty and more about her backstory and Abby and Erin’s childhood and just…more.
This movie is great for young girls and it shows them all that you can be a scientist and you can prove all of the naysayers wrong and you can be nerdy and badass and beautiful and you don’t have to choose between these things. They’re not mutually exclusive. I wish I had seen this as a little girl. I wish that I had known what little boys got to know about themselves. I wish that I’d had something to instill confidence in myself and my abilities and my personality and looks, the way Abby or Erin or Holtz or Patty do.
But I’m happy because now little girls will get to see that and they now have some amazing role models to look up to. I hope I get to see this in a lot more films and reboots to come. It’s important. Representation matters, guys.
[as they encounter a ghost]
Abby Yates: That’s a class four apparition.
Erin Gilbert: It’s okay. She seems peaceful.
[to the ghost]
Erin Gilbert: My name is Erin Gilbert, doctor of particle physics. I…
[suddenly the ghost barfs ectoplasm all over Erin]
Abby Yates: That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
[referring to the ectoplasm]
Erin Gilbert: That stuff went everywhere, by the way, in every crack. Very hard to wash off.
Cabbie: I don’t go to Chinatown, I don’t drive wackos, and I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!