Ghostbusters has lit up Summer 2016 like a Rorschach test for trolls. On the evidence of early (over)reactions to the cast, grotesque Twitter racism, and its current IMDB rating of 5.3*, I’d bet a lot of people go into the movie with their opinion pre-formed (from “Bitches get stuff done” to “This movie ruined my childhood”).
When you’re actually in the theater, the final product feels harmless. There are more self-referential nods to the haters than a Taylor Swift song. And as the beginning of a potential family-friendly franchise, this Ghostbusters doesn’t even deserve a PG-13 rating. I didn’t hear Melissa McCarthy swear once. Maybe it was Kate McKinnon’s suggestive winks, or proton guns that are only dangerous to ghosts, and not people. (Don’t try those at home, kids.) Ghostbusters 2016 is a safe next step after the diverse, female-driven worlds of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Hunger Games quartet.
But it’s also pretty cool that it happened. Four great comedic talents saving Manhattan from Slime-ageddon.
Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, unusually, are the straight women of the foursome, playing two physicists who, after a decades-long silence, come back together after a ghost sighting at a historic New York mansion. Filling out the team, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones don’t really have fleshed-out characters to play—did McKinnon even get a single expositional detail?—so they have the freedom to play within the lines of the scene, keeping the movie more unpredictable than the by-the-numbers plot can. McKinnon is the loosest and wackiest, with the batty energy of Christopher Lloyd steering the DeLorian. Jones and McCarthy are both women with a boundless energy, ready for anything, and I hope that the inevitable sequel gives them more space, lets them be more imaginative.
Will Ghostbusters become as rewatchable as Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids or Spy (or even McCarthy’s character in The Heat)? Unlikely. But I’d love this movie to boost Jones and McKinnon into the careers McCarthy and Wiig got from Bridesmaids. Leslie Jones could clean up in a Judd Apatow movie. And I see McKinnon becoming a delightful character actress. Even leading a rom-com one day, with Ellen Page, maybe.
We know it’s already a hit among children: Ghostbusters merchandise has been selling above expectations. And just this weekend, Brie Larson was announced for Captain Marvel, the MCU’s first female-driven movie. Frankly, I’ll buy a ticket for any movie starring McCarthy, Wiig, Jones, and McKinnon—and I might get to, if Columbia Pictures trusts the stars they have and finds ways to use them. This could be a good way to Make America the ’80s Again. Leslie Jones for a Top Gun reboot, anyone?
*Rotten Tomatoes is at 75% right now, just to make the disparity clear.