It’s official. I’m making a new Ghostbusters & writing it with @katiedippold & yes, it will star hilarious women. That’s who I’m gonna call.
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) October 8, 2014
It’s fitting that on the 30th Anniversary of the original film that Hollywood finally gets the ball moving on a third film. But while many Ghostbuster fans fully embraced the idea of an all female squad, of course there were some who weren’t ready to accept the change and speak their prejudices out loud for anyone willing to hear it. To those people I ask..why does it still matter?
Frankly speaking, throughout my lifetime I’ve seen this franchise butchered in just about every medium imaginable. Comic books, games, cartoons. The only property that doesn’t fully tarnish and embarrass this franchises legacy is the original film. Sony has tried and failed to conjure a new Ghostbusters so many times, that it’s not surprising they would embrace a daring new take. Lord knows that a third film has been in limbo since the 90’s with passed over plotlines such as one where the original cast gets transported to a hellish version of Manhattan. Or others involving a new younger group (Ashton Kutcher was rumored to be the lead..ugh) taking over for the originals. With the death of Harold Ramis and the leader of Ghostbusters not willing to pick up a damn script (Bill Murray reportedly read a draft for the third film. Shredded it and sent it back to Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, with a note saying “No one wants to pay money to see fat, old men chasing ghosts!”; I personally see no lies there), it might be time to finally let go of this pipe dream and embrace the idea of a reboot.
Take a look at the 2004 film Mean Girls. Upon it’s release, the film was a modestly-budgeted female-led high-school comedy based on the debut script from pre-“30 Rock,” Tina Fey and starring a group of largely unknown faces centering around a Disney star. To have known the impact the film had made on pop culture as well as the rise to stardom that it’s stars would have following the film’s release, Tina would have to have ESP or something. Take a look at Penny Marshall’s 1992 hit, A League of Their Own, which it’s plot of a women’s baseball league formed during World War II sets it up to be a feminist classic. More recently, there has been Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black or Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids, which in my opinion is the funniest original comedy I’ve personally sat through since 2009’s The Hangover. Women have much more comedic acting chops than some like to give credit for. Feig brought up a good point in an interview, “We are willing to watch movies with all dudes but as soon as something mostly has ladies in it, it’s a chick flick.” We’ve grown so used to seeing more men than women in media, despite women making up half the population, that if filmmakers do make the effort to add more diversity, people complain about it having too many women. It’s a fact that audiences want to see themselves in a character and they want to see new stories being told with a plurality of people across race/gender/orientation/class lines. Why? Simply because movies with diversity do well.
Despite that persistent claim that “women aren’t funny,” there have always been great female comedians, no matter what the Kenan Thompson’s of the world will tell you. In the wake of Joan Rivers’ death, the legacy of comedy’s female trailblazers was once again examined and although Rivers’ contribution to the medium was incredibly important, she was hardly the first to do it. What’s so cool about the prospect of “Ghostbusters III” is that in carrying on the legacy of one of cinema’s most popular comedic series and acknowledging women’s rightful place in comedy just feels so symbolic and the fact that original Ghostbuster Bill Murray gave the film his blessing is the icing on the cake.
When asked about the film Bill Murray weighed in on who should lead the next generation of the franchise. “Melissa McCarthy would be a spectacular Ghostbuster. And Kristen Wiig is so funny—God, she’s funny!” Murray said at the Toronto International Film Festival, continuing, “I like this girl Linda Cardellini a lot. And Emma Stone is funny. There are some funny girls out there.” Mr. Murray is right: To say there are some funny girls out there is a bit of an understatement these days. Ever since the initial announcement regarding the new “Ghostbusters” every actress that fancies themselves a jokester wants in. Murray only reinforced some of the more popular choices but no matter who ends up as the leads, the fact that Sony is willing to accept the idea that a famous male-centric fantasy franchise can be as successful (if not more successful) with women in the protagonist roles and open up the debate on which comediennes should be casted is a huge deal.
Discussing the film’s 30th anniversary earlier this year, Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman said that he thinks the film has stayed a part of the American consciousness for so long because it has a “feel-good quality,” which “creates something… more timeless.” Hopefully, this spirit will also be on display in the third film. Yes, there is a lot to be learned from a good gender swap, but a female-centric “Ghostbusters” needn’t be strictly a political move. Yes, women and men are different, but one of the best things about entertainment has been America’s slow realization that when it comes to comedy, women can play everything that men can.
Oh and for the record…
- 1) Aisha Tyler
- 2) Emma Stone
- 3) Melissa McCarthy
- 4) Ellen Page
That’s who I’m gonna call!