Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Road to 300: Lady Parts

I don't normally get political here on the Island; we all need a little break from politics and loudness and whatever else comes with living in the middle of an election season. Regardless of your personal feelings about Hillary Clinton, you can't ignore the historical significance of this election. While other women have run for President, no woman has ever been nominated by a major party for the presidency. She achieved this first just over a week ago at the Democratic National Convention. I admit that I teared up a bit during her speech; she is not the soaring orator that Barak Obama is but her words and the moment were enough for me. I'm not naive enough to believe the next 90-ish days are going to be easy or fun but they will be fascinating to watch. And I will be there with her on this journey, hopefully all the way to the White House.

However, today is not about Hillary Clinton or her historic bid for the presidency. No, today I want to discuss some other ladies who haven't had the easiest time of late but have chosen to rise above that and bust some ghosts.

Yes, I'm taking about the all-female cast of Ghostbusters.

Like most people, I love the original Ghostbusters. It's not a great movie but it's funny, a little scary, and featured a great cast who are the reason the movie works. The sequel is less exciting; I tend to watch it when I'm sick. It's one of the movies that I call fall asleep during, wake up in the middle, and still know what's going on before I fall asleep again. People, mostly men, lost their shit when it was announced that Paul Feig was going to be making a new version all female cast. Clutch your pearls or whatever it is dudes do when they're shocked by something. It didn't matter that the original cast was behind the film (and all make an appearance in the new one, including a lovely tribute to Harold Ramis who died in 2014). It also didn't matter that this isn't a remake in the way that other movies have recently been remade; Feig wasn't interested in recreating the same characters from the original films but creating a movie that exists within the universe of Ghostbusters. I didn't read this as a remake as much as an addition to the story in the way comic book stories often cross paths within the same universe.

What this movie makes abundantly clear is that people have zero chill and are incapable of simply being entertained. Everything doesn't have to be an epic masterpiece that will last the test of time. This could be the greatest movie of all time (it is not) and it wouldn't make a difference to a large percentage of the population who refused to see the movie because of ladies in lead roles. I cannot with these people. Are people with vaginas really that scary? Is that what's happening here? Interestingly, the movie plays to this theme in several places most notably with the character played by Kristen Wiig. Erin (great name) is a physicist, working towards tenure at a prestigious university. She is constantly being criticized for being uptight and dressing in a dowdy fashion. It doesn't matter that she's an accomplished scientist; she's still female so apparently it has to be hard to "make it" in academia. This is the reality for so many women in the world and not just in scientific fields. I'm not making this up; it's a reality. Hollywood isn't that much better and this movie is a clear example of that.

I liked the movie a lot. I would have liked it even if there wasn't controversy around it and if I didn't feel like I was required to go see it because I have lady parts and I need to support other humans who have lady parts. My favorite things included:
  • Leslie Jones as Patty Tolan, an MTA worker who also happens to know a ton of New York history. This comes in handy throughout the movie. I feel like Patty and I would be friends and go on history tours together.
  • HOLTZMANN! Kate McKinnon is freaking hilarious as the engineer/physicist who gives us some of the best moments and the best gear in the movie. She's probably the only character that has a true parallel to the original cast; Ramis's Egon, but she takes the weird and wacky to a completely different level. Egon was the straight man of the group; Holtzmann is something else. 
  • Cameos by the original cast except Rick Moranis (who declined the chance to be in the film and has been on a hiatus from Hollywood for the last 18 years following the death of his wife). My favorite cameos include Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and the firehouse. 
  • Chris Hemsworth. Is it stunt casting? Yes. Was he funny? Yes he was. Did I objectify him a bit when he was wearing the white t-shirt and dancing at the end? Absolutely. It's hard being in a movie just for your looks isn't it?
  • The friendships between the women. It's great to see the Abby/Erin friendship evolve during the movie to what you imagine it was before Erin went all academic on Abby. Dropping Patty into the group changes it for the better. They don't compete with one another; they need one another to bust some ghosts and save the day.
  • The climactic fight scene. History, ghosts, cool weapons, slow motion fight sequences, improbability, and something seemingly innocent being turned into a rage filled ghost monster - this sequence had everything.
Seeing this movie didn't ruin my childhood memories of the original or discredit its originality. It added a new chapter to the Ghostbusters universe and let some seriously funny women showcase their talent. If the fact that they are female while being funny and busting ghosts bothers you, you need to take a long look at your life.

Ghosts are scary; feminism isn't. Ectoplasm is gross; funny, talented women are not. Considering a future led by an angry hornet of a man is terrifying; women as Ghostbusters is not.

Ghostbusters & Car

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