Two Naked Dogs Studios

Bustin’ Made Me Feel Good: A Ghostbusters Review

July 15, 2016

I, typically, don’t frequent movie theaters very often. I prefer watching movies at home where I can study, analyze and be entertained with lesser distractions. Anytime I do feel the need to venture out to a film, it is a pretty big deal for me because it means a film may have some merit. It could simply be the casting that I like, the director, a combination or the simple need of wanting to be entertained for a couple of hours.

It’s no surprise, at this point, if you’ve been following any entertainment news over the past few weeks, you’ve heard, seen or read something in regards to the latest installment of the Ghostbusters franchise. It seems the film, wrapped in it’s own form of controversy, has been on the tips of everyone’s tongues for the longest time. The fun, new film hits theaters today and features an all female lead cast with a male support with the presence of Thor frontman, Chris Hemsworth.

Kristen Wiig brings us into the film following the opening set up where we are first introduced to Gertrude Aldridge at the Aldridge Mansion. Wiig brings her stoic, yet awkward brand of humor to the table as the film moves along to introduce the remaining characters of Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), Jillian Hotlzmann (Kate McKinnon) and Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones). Wiig’s form of humor is somewhat reminiscent of her role in The Bridesmaids, although, not quite as over the top. She was certainly spot on in character as Erin Gilbert, a super-smart physicist.

Melissa McCarthy soon enters our mist as the adorable, quirky and brainy Abby Yates donning what can only be described as an upgrade to a tin foil hat. I’m not entirely sure what it is but it was a suitable and offbeat way to welcome her to the screen. Throughout the movie, there are glimpses of McCarthy’s typical role of the over-the-top, almost overacting, BFF with no volume control but it is certainly not overbearing nor unwarranted. She carried herself beautifully throughout the film, moving gradually from the quirky, quick-quipping scientist to a certified badass mamma-jamma and landing at heroine. I love McCarthy’s form of comedic delivery and presence, especially here. I loved her on Mike & Molly and truly can’t wait to see what the future brings her.

As the film progresses, we are introduced to a sassy MTA worker, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), who inevitably encounters one of the more terrifying ghosts in the film, in my opinion (don’t fret, I’ll get to Holtzmann). I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about Leslie Jones beyond her work at Saturday Night Live but I’m fully convinced she has the chops to carry on to other projects. She’s a beautiful, tall, powerful woman who can certainly fill any roll brought before her, comedic or dramatic. She is an amazing talent and the industry should take notice. While Jones is certainly larger than life on screen (she towers above the other ladies for sure), her street-smart character is on the level and I’d imagine she is, too, in her daily life. She brought the sass and attitude one may expect from a street-smart metro laborer coupled with the humor and charm of a best friend. It created a necessary balance between the book smarts of the scientists with the street smarts of the average individual.

Of course, I cannot offer a review without including Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann. Where does one even begin to describe Holtzmann or McKinnon’s portrayal? I imagine my sentiments for McKinnon/Holtzmann echo that of the majority of folks whom have fallen in love with this movie and, in particular, this character. I love quirky, geeky, intelligent, funny characters in film. They are typically the outcasts, the misfits and the weirdos. I am all of that and then some so I can relate. McKinnon is an incredibly talented impressionist and comedienne as showcased during her time on Saturday Night Live, but she brings a whole new level of awesome and amazing into her unique portrayal of the weird, geeky scientist whom we first meet in an off-the-cuff come on to Erin Gilbert early in the film. I won’t deny it, I’m a bit of a fan of Kate McKinnon. I love her impressions on SNL. Hell, I simply love her, in a non-creepy, “she would be cool to have a beer with” kind of way, although I’d probably never be able to drink for laughing. She’s smart, funny and, apparently, has a rescue cat. If you have a shelter or rescue animal that you love and adore, cat or dog, you are good peoples in my book. Along with that, she’s got incredible comedic chops. I had no doubt as to what I would get from her character on screen and she nailed it. Nailed. It. For acts 1 and 2, we see the goofy, fun side of Holtzmann including a fun dance to DeBarge’s “Rhythm of the Night,” propane torches and flaming paper towels included, all the while the brainy inventor continues to improve upon the necessary weaponry to aid the Ghostbusters in the ever-growing fight to stop the inevitable evil starting to take shape amidst the one liners and awkward weapons tests in a New York alley. Entering act 3, however, we see a shift from the geek into this incredible, hard-hitting, take no prisoners genius with a Proton Pack any Ghostbuster would envy. I can only hope that other producers and directors take note of this young lady’s talent. Kate McKinnon has talent that rivals many of her predecessors, both male and female. She knows how to work the camera without going too far. I fully believe McKinnon could nail any role she deemed worthy to tackle, be it comedy or drama. Yes, she’s THAT good.

Rounding out this “Fab 5” is Chris Hemsworth in his portrayal of the so-incredibly-dumb, it’s almost painful, Kevin. I’ll admit, I’m not a Hemsworth fan but there is no doubt he is far more than just eye candy. He is an incredibly talented actor and, as we see in Ghostbusters, comedian (and apparently dancer). He certainly rounds out the cast and completes the “flip the script” direction of the film.

If you haven’t gathered by now, I, without a doubt, loved this interpretation of the Ghostbusters franchise. The characters are relatable, fun and entertaining. Hey, and get this, I’ve seen, and loved, the original film from 1984 and I love this version, too. Wait, is that really possible? Yes, my friend, yes it is. Let that sink in a bit.

I’ll wait…

I was incredibly excited to see the new Ghostbusters and I will, most likely, see it again. I made a point to see it in an IMAX theater, in 3D. I wanted the full experience and it was definitely worth every penny. But I can admit, I was also expecting to be disappointed. I had to remind myself as to what my expectations were; to be entertained for 2 hours. That was it. I didn’t need this great, amazing Oscar-worthy film with the most beautiful and moving of cinematic imagery or CGI the world has ever seen. I simply wanted to be entertained in a way we don’t often see. Really, it is that simple. To expect anything beyond that, well, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment and won’t appreciate the film for what it is.

I don’t typically watch movies in the same way “normal” people would. I study camera movement. I study lighting. Those are the two things I am passionate about so I find myself removed from most films and stories in favor of study so that one day, maybe I can be on set of something so large and amazing as this. But I was able to set that aside and immerse myself in this new world that Paul Feig had created for a couple of hours. It was refreshing. It was inspiring. I laughed so hard I may have ugly laughed/cried. I smiled through it. I was startled at some of the ghosts jumping off the screen. It was an escape that made me feel like a kid again. It was fantastic, especially given the tumultuous state of the world we now live in.

We don’t see female-led features of this caliber often. Ghostbusters was certainly entertaining but it was also nostalgic in it’s own unique way with homage to the original. There are multiple cameos by the original cast speckled throughout, including a smiling bust of the late Harold Ramis. There are plenty of purposely placed items that pay homage to the original film lining this new rendition and I challenge fans of the original to at least give this one a chance. You might be surprised. It was reminiscent of the cult classic that set the precedent but it held it’s own in a fun, beautiful, geeky, updated and entertaining way.

This, however, brings me to the tougher subject at hand. This may be career suicide before my film career even takes off but so be it. If it changes one person’s mind, it was worth it.

If you’ve been following the promotional endeavors of the cast and crew over the past few weeks and as far back as the initial announcement of the production in development, you’ve heard or read of the controversy that has arisen as a result of such a dramatic flip of the script. The words “sexism,” “misogynist,” “feminist” are being thrown around a lot. I try to shy away from online drama as best I can but what I have seen and read for myself implies that these words aren’t entirely unwarranted. Allow me to explain.

By definition, yes, women seeking equality in a society dominated by men is feminism. Sure, Ghostbusters can be classified as feminist because it took away the boys club card and made it co-ed. Suck it up, buttercup. These ladies showed the boys up and made it smart, sexy and fun along the way. I, personally, hope for more of this. I’m ok with the label of feminist. I can own it.

For a better part of the history of Hollywood, the industry has been dominated by men either in executive roles or lead actor roles. Women have always taken a back seat, objectified and discounted. Anyone who says otherwise is full of, well, you know. What reasonable excuse can these misogynistic fan boys come up with to justify not having a female-led cast?

I’ve heard some say it would “ruin their childhood.” Do tell. If you’re childhood is defined by a film about chasing ghosts with particle accelerators then I’m pretty sure you’re childhood was ruined well before you hit puberty, home-skillet. Others have deemed that the new movie changes the definition of Ghostbusters for them and their brethren or that it destroys the nostalgia. Let’s be real here. If your definition and nostalgia of a movie from thirty-two years ago changed because of a new reboot featuring all women, you should just turn in your man card and bow out of the game because you obviously aren’t secure enough in yourself to handle it. Hello, it was a movie; a piece of long-form entertainment. If you allow a movie to define you or your childhood, maybe get a hobby… Or a snake… Ok, maybe not a snake. Chinchilla? Your preference.

Let’s shed light on the real issue at hand. I believe our society is coming to a point where equality is becoming mandatory, not optional, and men are scared shitless as a result. When I was a child, we didn’t have strong female leads fronting large-budget, major Hollywood films like this. What role models did we have? Barbie? Really? We had the likes of Glen Close, Bridget Fonda and Sigourney Weaver, all wonderful actresses in their own right, but only Weaver and Fonda were ever in badass lead action roles and frankly, I was too young to handle the Alien and Point of No Return movies.

The idea of inferiority in society baffles me. Where did this notion that women, or those with darker/other skin tones, are inferior or not worthy of fair and just treatment? I can only attribute it to our historic roots in which men were the hunters and women were caretakers. During the settlement years, the established roles of men and women were necessary for our species to survive and evolve but we are well past that now. Our population has doubled in the last 60 years. I think we’re doing ok. We’re not exactly on the endangered list. And slavery…. Don’t even get me started.

I work in a couple of male-dominated industries; distribution and graphic design. I work in corporate America. There is no stronger “boys club” than corporate America. Don’t get me wrong, my job is great as is the company. I love the company I work for. But the reality is, I will never move up the corporate ladder without sacrificing a significant part of who I am in order to achieve that. I’d have to change my approach, my attire, my attitude to ever move up but my dreams and aspirations aren’t centered around my current employment situation. This is not because this mentality is intentional or meant in ill-will, I don’t believe that is the case at all (our leadership is fantastic in my opinion), but because there is a societal, deep-seated belief well beyond the office walls that women are in no way capable of handling tougher, riskier situations or making decisive, definitive decisions, or in this case, women can’t possibly be bad ass enough to take on the after life. Right?

I’ve been blessed in the handful of amateur film projects I’ve worked on. The casts and crews I’ve worked with have all been great and accepting but this is the independent scene, not the Hollywood machine. The independent film scene is far more inclusive and open to differing directions in leadership. Not Hollywood. That pains me to say that because I absolutely love hanging out in Hollywood. It’s one of my favorite places but simply google gender bias in Hollywood and you can read up on the plight of women in Hollywood. Go watch That Gal… Who Was in That Thing and hear it from the mouths of those women. It has been proven, and will continue to be proven, that women can be as good as, if not better than, men in the industry. More and more independent film crews are being “manned” by all women crews. This is amazing. That is revolutionary. But Hollywood refuses to catch on and as a result, the majority fanbase follows suit, hiding behind keyboards, spewing their hate-filled tirades to any message board free of policing. I love that Ghostbusters pokes fun at this, by the way.

What I find so incredible about what the cast, crew, producers and studio behind the new Ghostbusters film has done is surely they had to have known the backlash they would face as a result, but they went through with it anyway, with female leads. They had to have known the great risk in pursuing Ivan Reitman and Paul Feig’s direction for the project, both financially and demographically. Filmmaking, in general, is a huge financial risk so couple that with the inevitable backlash for an all female cast… Mad applause for pressing forward. Seriously, standing ovation. I don’t think people realize the magnitude of what Ivan Reitman, Paul Feig and Katie Dippold have brought to the table, especially for women in film. Reitman, Feig and Dippold may not realize it either but I am certainly thankful they decided to change the game the way they saw fit and didn’t let the haters derail it. I can only dream of a day when I can be a part of a film of such magnitude but I believe progress is happening and that dream may be closer to reality than I think. Throughout the film and the promotional campaign leading up to it’s release, I can only envision how much fun the entire cast and crew had and the love they have for each other and the franchise to press forward in spite of such nastiness. I hope to one day be a part of something that amazing, even if I’m only on set as a PA, I’ll take it!

I hope the box office results are tenfold what the predictions are. I hope this film surpasses every hurdle it faces during its theatrical campaign. And I hope this opens doors for the cast and crew along the undoubtedly crazy journey they are now on.

If you venture to a theater to watch the new Ghostbusters film, go with reasonable expectations. Don’t look at it as a slap in the face to the original. It’s not. Get away from the madness in the world and simply be entertained for 2 hours. It’s that simple. So what if the CGI isn’t as realistic as you would like. So what they’re all female in the lead roles. To the misogynists out there, the world is changing; either get on board or be left in the dust.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go paint my car white and red and wire up a siren. Maybe even dust off my proton pack…