Photo: Courtesy Columbia Pictures.
It's official: An all-female reboot of Ghostbusters is happening. Director Paul Feig has confirmed that he and The Heat's screenwriter Katie Dippold will be reuniting to cowrite the script. Meanwhile, it's all but certain that Melissa McCarthy will lead the cast of funny ladies, with Jenny Slate, Kristen Wiig, Amy Poehler, and Wanda Sykes also being mentioned as potential 'busters.
Feig's films (The Heat, Bridesmaids among them) are hilarious. Dippold wrote The Heat, which is all the recommendation she needs. The prospect of a film starring the funniest women in Hollywood is indeed exciting. But, empowering? Not really.
While plenty of people are buzzing about finally getting a "girl power" Ghostbusters, I can't help but feel pretty meh about the whole thing. For starters, the fact that it's taken 30 years to get an all-female cast greenlit is more discouraging than it is groundbreaking. It all feels like a token gesture.
Aside from Bill Murray's Venkman, with his macho, overly flirtatious behavior, the original Ghostbusters wasn't a guy movie in the same vein as, say, The Expendables. The actors could have easily been switched out with actresses (say, Goldie Hawn or Gilda Radner) without many script alterations. Perhaps that's why Feig's version was such an easy sell. It's simple to swap in female characters, but isn't it also a bit pointless?
I find it harder to replace the women from the originals, however. As a kid in the '80s, I saw Sigourney Weaver as the antithesis of most of the female leads I'd encountered. She was strong, a bit brittle, she lived alone, had a fascinating job (two of them, actually), and was a single working mom in the sequel. Oscar's dad wasn't in the picture, and it didn't matter. And, Annie Potts' Janine Melnitz held her own and could have eaten Egon for breakfast.
The upside of an all-female Ghostbusters is that it will give our favorite actresses another platform to let loose. The downside is that rehashing old material is hardly inspiring. Sequels and reboots are rarely as good as the originals, so why is Hollywood so set on tweaking a beloved classic when they could put that energy toward creating fresh ideas for women? I want to see Melissa McCarthy and Tina Fey cut it up as much as anyone else. But, more importantly, I want the material to be great. Is there really nothing better for them to sink their teeth into?
Of course, I'm hoping I'll be proved wrong. Maybe the film will be just as good as the original. Maybe it will add something to the gender debate by shaking up what we traditionally see as male and female roles. Maybe it will be more than Hollywood simply throwing us a bone. Maybe.
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