A bit of background: I fucking hate Hollywood. For the past 6 ish years or so, very few films or TV series have come out of Hollywood that don’t have at least one moment that made me want to stand up and leave the theatre. In the past 6 years, I have come out in support of Frozen as a painfully obvious coming out metaphor, and that’s about it. I haven’t seen everything else but I’m confident I would have no shortage of reasons to shake my head and mutter “garbage” most of the time. Lately I keep to books.
So, with that bias in mind, “pretty good” is a damn high bar to leap over. The 2016 Ghostbusters reboot did alright.
My biggest criticism: No plot twist. It was all fairly predictable. If you want a sophisticated exercise in plotting, the 2016 Ghostbusters ain’t it. Any time horror tropes are invoked, they are also easy to anticipate. A few horror tropes are subverted in a humorous way, but not necessarily surprising ways.
However, there were a few things that swing this movie out of the garbage pile:
- Humour: Anyone who thinks women can’t be funny clearly needs to see this. More importantly, the humour usually doesn’t need any minority to be the butt of its jokes–just cishet white men, the most privileged demographic in the West. It’s a “punching up” film through and through.
- Queer gaze: The film makes one character–Holtzmann–ping gaydar so hard for queer women, but her queerness is signaled in ways that don’t cater to the male gaze. There’s no romantic subplot (just bit of oggling over the attractive-but-dense receptionist, Kevin) and no kiss between women to fetishize. But Queer women noticed even without signals that are obvious to cishets. Holtzmann uses all the same Queer-coded cues that actual Queer women use.
- Competent action heroines: I’m still recovering from the shock of proper action heroines that can do something.
- Allegory: The villain is a white nerd boy who feels disenfranchised because he has been bullied. This is demonstrated on screen briefly, in a cartoonish and almost exaggerated fashion. When he delivers his villainous diatribe to the protagonists, he sounds like he’s reading off a Reddit forum, claiming the protagonists must have been treated with dignity if they don’t want to burn society to the ground. They promptly point out that no, people have been and continue to be assholes to them, but they don’t see that as a reason for mass murder.
All in all, the movie would be spared from Shiv’s hypothetical tyrannical purge of Hollywood materials.