UPDATE: Review of Full ‘Ghostbusters’ (2016) Film

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Several months ago I wrote an article on my reservations with the new Ghostbusters film that was released this year, and now (after finally getting around to just renting the movie on Amazon Video) I’d like to review my opinion on the subject.

To start off: was this a feminist breakthrough that some had hoped? Frankly, no. At the very least, the movie hits the lowest bar for making a movie “feminist,” in that it passes the Bechdel test. Other than that, I wouldn’t say it was particularly feminist. Does that make it a poor representation of women in a movie? Not by a long shot. What I’m saying is that it skates by just over the bar. It’s neither misogynistic nor overtly feminist. To be completely honest, it’s what would be a completely normal, unremarkable action comedy (that just happens to star women), if seeing a movie starring all women outside of the rom-com genre were more normal. I’ll give it some credit for lightly dancing around some issues women face today, like not being taken seriously as professionals, but the film doesn’t really delve into the problems enough to make a splash.

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My biggest fear after originally watching the trailer was that the film was going to be a “all girls” gimmick. After watching the film in full (the extended cut, even), I’m at least satisfied that the film avoided being a total “Ghostbusters, but for girls!” gimmick. As I mentioned in my previous point, if it weren’t so unusual to see an all-female-led action comedy, Ghostbusters (2016) would be pretty standard fare.

And for the million-dollar question: did I enjoy the movie? Yes, yes I did. It was amusing, and I really enjoyed Kate McKinnon’s Holtzmann and Leslie Jones’ Patty, especially Holtzmann. Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig’s characters were goofy at best (not really my cup of tea, comedy-wise), but I could still relate to them having also grown up as one of the weird kids in grade school. Was it the best or funniest movie I’ve seen all year? Eh, not so much. Would I watch it again? Yeah, it was pretty good. Overall, I agree with this Washington Post article that the whole project would have ultimately been better off as an new, original franchise (as opposed to a rehash of something successful 30 years ago).

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One thing I did notice, something I haven’t heard anyone talking about online much (post links to articles about it in the comments if I’m wrong), is that I think this film was actually set in the same universe as the original 1984 Ghostbusters film. The trailer hinted at it, but then everything else, from the cameos of original movie’s actors to the fact that no one seemed to remember the city being nearly destroyed by the Stay Puft man in the ’80s, pointed towards this being a complete reboot of the franchise.

My fan theory hinges on something one of the government agents told the Ghostbusters when they were first called to the mayor’s office: “the cat has been out of the bag before, and yet, people loose interest and put it back in.” 1984 and Mr. Stay Puft happened, but everyone lost interest and forgot. That’s why Peter Venkman is now a paranormal debunker under the false name “Martin Heiss.” He either lost faith in the truth when everyone turned against the original Ghostbusters or was paid off by the government to suppress the truth. Egon, Ray, and Winston moved on with their lives, possibly changing their names to avoid public ridicule. Egon got a new job back at Columbia University and became a well-known professor with his bust on display in the physics department. Ray and Winston sought out new careers, as a NYC cabbie and the owner of a funeral home. Meanwhile, Dana under the false name “Rebecca Gorin,” decided to pursue paranormal science out of the lime light, ultimately ending up as Holtzmann’s mentor.

But hey, what do I know? It’s just a theory.

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