If you like gadgets, ghouls, gag-jokes, and girl-power, “Ghostbusters” (2016) is the film to see.
After a semester of being too busy to make it to the movies and a summer of some fairly disappointing cinematography — looking at you, Russo brothers and David Ayer — the new “Ghostbusters” was exactly the type of comedic relief that I needed in my life. My friends and I were laughing for most of the nearly two hours, and I am not ashamed to admit that I was as scared during the supernatural film as I was while watching the third Purge.
Set in New York City, the film follows physicists Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), engineer Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) as they fight a series of malevolent spirits that start popping up all over the Big Apple. When the film opens Gilbert is a tenure-track professor at Columbia attempting to avoid scandal. Unfortunately, belief in the supernatural causes her to be fired, a worry that may or may not be relevant to future academic Yalies. It isn’t long before the foursome realizes that the multiple ghostly appearances they are encountering are more than mere coincidence. Combining particle physics with Tolan’s advanced knowledge of the city’s history, the team finds themselves racing time to preserve the world of the living.
A fan of the original “Ghostbusters,” I enjoyed the remake as a tribute to the classic. Bill Murray was missing on screen, but Melissa McCarthy and Leslie Jones ensured that humor was not. The new film also abounded in references to the original hit, including an appearance from the disgusting but lovable Slimer. The 30-year wait also ensured an upgrade, albeit not a huge one, in special effects.
The new “Ghostbusters” provided new messages and was often a parody of mainstream media. The Ghostbusters’ secretary is the lovable but entirely incompetent Kevin, a hunk played by Chris Hemsworth. Gilbert’s awkward flirtations, probably workplace harassment, with Kevin and his portrayal as helpless eye-candy that requires rescuing is a clear take on the way women have been presented for decades.
With women underrepresented in STEM and comedy, “Ghostbusters” was a small step for summer movie-goers but a giant leap for (wo)mankind. My only serious criticism of the film was that all three female scientists are white. While Jones’ character was important, intelligent, and integral to the success of the team, it is troubling that, again, Hollywood has cast a black actor in a service job rather than an academic one. Jones has publicly responded to similar complaints by asserting that MTA workers deserve the same levels of respect bestowed on scientists. Although I agree with her and loved her character, I would have been excited if the rest of the cast had been more diverse. In the future I hope that we will see women of color in an array of roles in film and television.
“Ghostbusters” is still in theaters, so for any Yalies that are not yet swamped with their studies, the time is now and you know who to call.