I took a half day off of the day job on Friday because I wanted to see Ghostbusters this weekend and the timing just wasn’t going to work otherwise. Seeing Paul Feig’s film felt important to me. As a Ghostbusters fans, though not a die-hard like so many others. As a pop culture fan. As a guy who works with with a lot of incredible women who are writing in the genre field and who may have felt attacked by the misogynists out there who thought an all-female reboot of Ghostbusters who would somehow ruin their childhood.
But mainly I think I wanted to see it because I’m a dad to an awesome little girl who rules my world.
My princess and I have watched Ghostbuster over the past week. She doesn’t watch the scary parts (“I’m covering my eyes with my iPad, Dadda”) and she gets a huge kick out of Slimer whenever he’s on screen. She’s grown up watching The Real Ghostbusters (the less scary ones…usually) and for Father’s Day she made sure she got me Slimer for LEGO Dimensions. My daughter and I, thankfully, connect on many things, and aspects of Ghostbusters is one of them.
The thing is, though, watching the original 1984 film a few times recently has left me somewhat reticent about the movie as a whole. It’s very much a product of the times, so watching Ernie Hudson’s Winston and Dan Aykroyd’s Ray light up butts constantly, while accurate, feels very, very dated and unfortunate to me as a dad. Call me too P.C. or hypersensitive if you want. It’s just how I feel.
And while so many of us all love Bill Murray as Peter Venkman, I can’t be the only one who thinks he comes off as more than a little skeevy in his pursuit of Sigourney Weaver’s Dana Barrett, can I? Dana is a strong female character and doesn’t take Peter’s shit, but many of his asides, and especially his vibe when he first returns with her to her apartment, just feel as though they have no place in today’s culture.
Seeing the strength that the women in the new Ghostbusters film all possess was just one of the many reasons I absolutely loved this reboot. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon are inspiring characters. They’re badass. They’re funny. They’re cool. They’re smart. They’re sexy (especially McKinnon’s Jillian Holtzmann, who is as good as other reviewers are saying). These are women that I want my daughter to watch (when she’s a bit older or on home video when I can shield some of the scarier scenes) and know that she can be them. She can be anything she wants.
She can be a Ghostbuster.
I watched Ghostbusters for two hours and I don’t think the smile left my face the whole time. Is it perfect? No, not at all. I would have liked it to be funnier than it was. I chuckled, but I rarely guffawed, and I wanted to. But for me, that’s the film’s only real failing. There’s a lot of heart here, as friends reconnect and girl power saves the day. Plus, one of my big fears, that the new version would rely too heavily on imagery from the first film, was totally unfounded. This is a smart and original take on the source material, and one that I hope has legs for many movies to come.
More than that, though, I hope the “dudes” who were down on the film because of some silly sexism or misplaced worry about sullying the past can lighten up. The original classic movie, flaws and all, is still there and it isn’t going anywhere. Same with the sequel (which, while certainly a lesser film, still has the sharp chemistry the first one displayed). But for a new generation, and for future ones to come, there’s a new team in town that are as good at cleaning up this town as anyone we could hope for.
The Ghostbusters of 2016. They came. They saw. They kicked my ass.