Alex Casey is a staff writer for New Zealand pop culture-obsessed website The Spinoff and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Movie review: Ghostbusters

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Ghostbusters rebooted.
Ghostbusters rebooted.

This year Ghostbusters had to prove that they weren't just afraid of no ghosts - but no trolls either. News of the all-female reboot of the 1984 classic sent the internet into a mouth-frothing frenzy, with overgrown man babies scream-crying that their childhoods would be ruined because the Ghostbusters now had boobs. The movie trailer currently sits at close to a million dislikes on YouTube, making it one of the top 10 most-hated videos of all time.

Here's some news to those boycotting the film: your childhood was a very long time ago and I wish you all the best in adulthood if you can't process the idea of four women leading a popular mainstream franchise without spewing out a pile of ectoplasm.

Even if director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy) and the acting talent of Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon is still not enough ... then yes, your beloved original Ghostbusters stars do make some withering cameos.

Beyond the talent-stuffed cast, there are plenty more reasons why the new Ghostbusters is worth a look. It's a lot of fun, and allows each of the women to showcase their different comedic stylings whilst going up against "the man" (both literally and figuratively) to save New York City from the onslaught of a ghost apocalypse. The zaniness doesn't always hit the mark - infantile jokes tend to fall flat and Kate McKinnon's unhinged weirdness feels like it's from a different otherworldly portal altogether. Just like the original, blending comedy, action, drama, and horror can result in a bit of a shambles, but that's part of the fun too.

Summer Bay heartthrob, Thor's Chris Hemsworth joins the gang as a receptionist with all the enthusiasm of a labrador puppy, his airhead character a clear barb at the historical role of women in male-led films across all genres. His outlandish idiocy is one of the funniest running gags of the film, and actually seems less outlandish when you think of just about every Anna Faris role ever.

Given the scorching fires of gender politics in which it was forged, Ghostbusters isn't as incisive or cutting as expected.

There are glimmers of sexist sarcasm, such as when Melissa McCarthy scrolls through YouTube comments and sees someone saying "no bitches going to catch no ghosts", or when Hemsworth tries his hardest to give the Ghostbusters' logo a giant pair of boobs. The commentary comes as subtly as McKinnon's T-shirt, which reads "One of the boys", or even in the simple fact that the costumes are the same baggy, ill-fitting jumpsuits and not tight-fitting catsuits with a cleavage cut-out.

The film is undeniably corny and doesn't take anything too seriously - especially the people who are gleefully rubbing their hands together in anticipation of its demise. Evoking the papier-mache chic of the first, the special effects are actively hokey, often looking like bad glow-in-the-dark temporary tattoos. There are plenty more references and cameos to keep die-hard fans on their toes, but not enough to feel as if the movie is pandering strictly to those riding a wave of nostalgia. This movie isn't actually for them.
An image that recently circulated on the internet showed a young girl in a Ghostbusters costume, beaming up at Kristen Wiig on the red carpet.

Video

That's why we need these sorts of movies, to tell young girls that they have more options outside of the frumpy librarian, or the ditsy assistant - that they, too, can be ghost hunters, physicists, lecturers, and blockbuster film leads if they want to.

That's the entire point: these movies just have to exist.

This isn't the all-encompassing magnum opus to answer all the questions of gender and representation in Hollywood.

But should it have to be? If anything, Ghostbusters comes as a sound reminder that sometimes, when you're carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, the solution might just be to shrug it off and make a fart noise.

- Spy.co.nz

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