Ghostbusters Roundtable Discussion

Ghostbusters is finally here! Easily one of the most talked about and derided film of the year, everyone now has a chance to go out and see it for themselves. So was it worth the wait, or were the fanboys living in their mom’s basement right all along? A few of us here at Geeks OUT got together and decided to answer those questions as well as a few more!

So after all the hype and hullabaloo over Ghostbusters, the most important question that needs to be answered is whether or not it's any good?

Trish McNeely: I thought Ghostbusters was phenomenal, and I was constantly laughing! The special effects were bright and aesthetically pleasing, and the cast made it their own movie, but kept the initial concept the same. I saw it twice, because of Holtzman. Her end speech was gorgeous and totally resonated with me and what I fight for as a queer person — love.

Adam McDonald: Aside from Goonies, Star Wars and Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters was one of the movies that defined my childhood. So was I worried about this reboot? No, not even once. Paul Feig has delivered some of the funniest movies of the last few years, and all the actresses in this are at the top of their game. It’s as good as, if not better, than the original, and that’s about the highest compliment I can give it. You’ll also get a rare recommendation to go see it in 3D since they do some really cool effects with the ghosts and proton packs extending beyond the black bars à la Oz: The Great and Powerful.

Amanda Malamut: I absolutely and positively loved it! I was never into the originals as a kid- but it seemed like this film embodied the spirit of its predecessors without being a complete remake. It was funny, clever, and it was super enjoyable. And Kate McKinnon is now my Patronus.

Jon Espino: I agree with Adam that compared to the original, it is as good if not better. The pure fact that they fixed several of the issues, especially the terrible depiction of women as nothing but damsels in distress and sexual objects, makes this better than the original. It has about a 80% joke landing rate, but that is all made better by the introduction of Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon), who channels the genius, mad scientist inside all of us.

Fanboys went crazy over the fact that the leads would be played by women, and the film figuratively addresses that "controversy." Should they have done that? Would it have been better if they just ignored the immaturity of the internet?

Adam: Slight spoiler here, so please skip if you don’t want to know ANYTHING about the film. It's hard to express just how wonderful it was that the villain is essentially the epitome of the fanboys and men’s rights advocates who were complaining about this movie from the get go. Sure, skulk around and threaten to burn the world down from the confines of your mom’s basement because the world isn’t going exactly as you had hoped. Have fun with that. Ghostbusters had every right to address the "controversy," and they did it not only in a way that obliterated their talking points but also got the audience to laugh out loud as well.

Amanda: I think fanboys proved the point of this movie with the way they've been acting. You have women in the film who have been ostracized and persevered through friendship, loyalty, and knowledge. The villain is a sad man who wants to control everything because he was bullied. I was bullied as a kid, but it doesn’t give me the right to be a giant d-bag to everyone. The movie isn’t for the fanboys, it's for little girls and for women who never got a chance to see themselves in a movie like this.

Jon: It was great that they were able to address this fact while simultaneously obliterating it with humor and gags meant to show how ridiculous the controversy is. The film wouldn't have been as socially conscious if it didn’t reflect the views that many misogynists around the world still hold. Those views are the misguided notion of female inferiority and the reinforcement of wildly outdated gender roles. They still exist and this rebooted/upgraded Ghostbusters film destroys all of them.

Trish: It was totally appropriate to address the trolling fanboys. I also think they did it flawlessly. They explored the annoyance of being a woman — especially an intelligent one — and not being taken seriously. At the same time, they kept it light and funny. Furthermore, this quality added to the story, instead of distracting from it. The all-female team provided an inside look into what it’s like being a woman, introducing something extraordinary, yet hard to believe, and experiencing the usual backlash of being patronized, and being unable to believe in the power and intelligence of women.

How did having a mostly all-women cast affect how the movie played out? Did it honestly feel different than a mostly male cast would have?

Jon: Female-led comedies always feel different, especially since they aren’t plagued by the distracting male gaze POV. At no point were any of the Ghostbusters made into purely sexual window dressings. The focus was placed on their individual talents and characteristics. Most all-male comedies would have some off-color jokes about homosexuality and women, but Ghostbusters has absolutely no time for that.

Amanda: It definitely felt different having an all-female cast. The friendship and camaraderie that was portrayed was powerful in a completely female way. The speech that Holtzman gave at the end was beautiful in a way that only a queer woman could deliver it. And if it was mostly a male cast I feel like an unnecessary redo versus an interesting new take.

Trish: Having an all-female cast made the experience of a team more about friendship as opposed to competition and Alpha male fights. I noticed that none of them tried to take the helm. They all worked together and then celebrated individual ideas.

Adam: I read something really telling online the other day that this was the first time women in an action movie were allowed to kick-ass and be smart without being sexualized, and it was kind of shocking to realize the truth in that. Just as we had with Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it’s time there are more strong, female role models for everyone to look up to, especially young girls. And yes, that means they can have fun and throw in a few naughty jokes that will go over those kids' heads ("Is it better or worse to know that came from the front?"), but the style and sensibilities of a female-led class did do a lot to improve the humor and tone of the movie.

There were a lot of throwbacks to the original — cameos, locations, one-liners, etc. Was this great fan service or was it distracting?

Amanda: I thought the throwbacks and the fan service was cute. The original movie was campy, it makes sense to have references to that throughout the new film. I think the film paid homage to the original without completely going overboard.

Trish: This was brilliant fan service for sure. People love familiarity, and since this movie wanted to be its own entity, as well as a throwback, I think it provided something for everyone in the audience — old and new fans alike. I didn't feel they were distracting at all. They were subtle enough to flow with the story, but familiar enough for fans of the original film to potentially catch some nostalgia to become more emotionally involved in the new film.

Adam: It did a fantastic job of reminding us what came before without crossing the line into pandering. It also almost felt necessary — like a passing of the torch to this new generation of Ghostbusters. Jurassic World was an example of paying too much homage to what’s come before, but Ghostbusters perfectly walked the line between ignoring the past and relying on it.

Jon: It was a great fan service and almost an inevitable aspect for this reboot. To acknowledge how far you've come, you need to at least give a nod to where you've been, and Ghostbusters does a great job of acknowledging its past without dwelling on it too long. Every cameo was a great reminder of the characters that came before and also a great way to include them into the new universe established in the reboot.

Now that we've had male-only and female-only films, do you think the next step should be a gender integrated movie?

Trish: I can't personally imagine how an integrated team could play out. They may be more successful jumping on the Civil War train that's so popular right now, and come together at the end to defeat another apocalyptic entity.

Jon: Now that Ghostbusters has crossed the gender borders of the franchise, I think it should continue on its mission of inclusion and integrate the film franchise. The biggest complaint for the original films was the boy’s club it established. To be truly progressive, you can’t be guilty of the same crimes you are fighting against. The next step needs to be a male person of color, preferably not heterosexual. I'd recommend a gay Hispanic male. Maybe his name could even be Jon. Yes, I am available for an audition.

Adam: I like Jon’s idea to include an LGBT character as we deserve the representation too I was actually hoping that Chris Hemsworth character would end up being gay, but the bimbo/hunk role worked out fantastically. I don’t really have a problem with their keeping it a mainly female-led cast since male-led ones are the crux of almost every movie already out there. I’m not opposed to mixing genders, and adding more men wouldn’t deter me from seeing or enjoying a sequel, but it just doesn’t feel as necessary or relevant.

Amanda: I want a Ghostbusters where Kate McKinnon plays every character. Safety lights are for dudes!