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Ghostbusters (2016) was pretty good

You guys wanted a blog post about Ghostbusters in 2017, right?  Okay, cool.

Steph and I finally caught up last weekend on this one and we both had a good time with it.  There's tons to love here and much to be applauded.

I was surprised at how both Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy played the straight characters and took such a backseat to letting pretty much everyone else - including Chris Hemsworth - take the comedy spotlight.  It speaks to both of their talents and confidence that they pulled off really wonderful leads who could just be Ghostbusters without having to gawk at the camera constantly for laughs.

I had giddy, childish glee at all the different gizmos that Kate McKinnon's character invented throughout, and I'm excited to see my daughters grow up in a world where they can (I hope?) buy toy versions of them.  Of course, they'll have to watch the movie first... and seeing them react to it in a few years when they're old enough will be a ton of fun, too.

I thought the subtle commentary here and there about gender roles and the legitimization of the women - both as scientists and as career women - was fantastic.  It's both a joke and a seriously sad state of affairs that the ladies in Ghostbusters 2016 have to bust their ass for two hours just to get a polite "Thank you" and not get arrested, but the men of Ghostbusters 1984 propelled to riches and stardom after a single, highly-destructive gig at a hotel about forty minutes in.

And I dug the Halloween horror vibe throughout.  I've never been shy about my affinity for horror theatrics on this blog, so the haunted house version of NYC that you get to see is a major plus and a strong reason to revisit.

Really the only thing that actually bothered me about the movie was the way Bill Murray's skeptic character was presented.  Skepticism is too often portrayed (as it is here) as the simple act of saying "No" and being snobby about it, when all skepticism actually is is just asking, "Where's your evidence?"  But I don't know that I can hold that against the film; the premise requires that people not take them seriously, and if they didn't set themselves up as scientists at the outset you'd be able to dismiss their efforts as whack-a-doo lady nonsense.  So, I get why this character's here.  I just wish there was a way to have my cake and eat it, too.

It's definitely a different version of Ghostbusters than I thought I was going to get.  I have to stress that I don't mean "worse" or "bad."  Just different.  Overall, I do still prefer the original, but how couldn't I?  That was something I grew up with ever since I was old enough to understand movies.  What's really going to be fascinating is to see how kids today are going to feel when they're my age.  I think most future-adults will prefer both equally, because they each scratch a different itch.

The original Ghostbusters had a more subdued approach to most of its horror set pieces.  There were big, overblown moments with special effects and stuff, too, but a lot of it - like the eggs popping onto Sigourney Weaver's kitchen counter, or the eerie build-up to the librarian ghost - were quiet whispers that wanted to set you at unease.  In that respect, I'd say that the original is much more of a comedic horror movie, whereas the new one is a comedy about horror tropes.

And I have to wonder if that's an extra factor as to why so many grumpy old idiots got weepy about this one.  I mean, I know that horrible, outrageous sexism was the main reason - but people get defensive about preserving their precious childhood memories, as if they can some day actually become a kid again by just remembering something without external influence.  (That's a huge waste of your fucking time, kids - learn to love change and you'll realize how much sweeter new experiences are.  Live long enough and you realize that all your memories suck compared to the present.)  I have to wonder how many people out there were hoping to relive the magic of discovery and simply couldn't because they're not the right age anymore.

Speaking of discovery....

The thing that took me by surprise about Ghostbusters 2016 is how much they really tried to focus on the ghosts not as a source of horror, but as a source of knowledge.  The original movie played off the idea that ghosts were some unknowable, demonic, weird force that you had to be an esoteric genius to figure out, and that's why they were terrifying.  The new one just takes it for granted that ghosts exist and has four scientists (I don't care what the movie says, Leslie Jones counts - all you need to do to be a scientist is apply the method and write down your results) study and unmask them with enthusiastic glee.

The original treated ghosts like icky bugs that may or may not be under your bed - you're supposed to be freaked out by them and go, "Ew!"  The new one looks at those ghosts/bugs and goes, "Oh, cool!  Let's poke them!"

I found that really awesome and unexpected.  For as much as I complained about the skeptic character, the movies does much to reaffirm science.  True joy is in the discovery and research of hidden things, not in the roller coast ride of reacting to them.  And that's about as positive a message as you can possibly teach to any kid, boy or girl.