Thoughts on “Ghostbusters,” the Loathed Remake

A scene from Ghostbusters (2016). Left to right: Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, and Leslie Jones.
A scene from Ghostbusters (2016). Left to right: Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, and Leslie Jones.

There is a moment in the new Ghostbusters movie where Kristen Wiig’s character, Erin, mistakenly reads aloud an online comment that says, “Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts.” It’s a funny line that is made poignant with added context. Since the film’s announcement, this remake, its cast members, and its director (Paul Feig) have all been under fire. Why? Well, because it’s a horrible thing to remake a film, but even more terrible to remake a film with an “unconventional” cast-list. Despite the original 1984 Ghostbusters film featuring the likes of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson, this 2016 remake instead features a female-led cast.

With that being said, I know it’s possible that a lot of the anger directed at the recently released Ghostbusters reboot is not necessarily because it features lady Ghostbusters, but because the film is a remake of a beloved classic. That’s no excuse for bullying and abuse, though, and there has been plenty of misogyny and racism hurled at the film’s cast members. That behavior is abhorrent, and shouldn’t be overlooked. Have other remakes received this same backlash?

I am not going to argue the merits of Ghostbusters ‘16, as I don’t pretend it’s a cinematic masterpiece. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t magnificent either. Overall, it was an entertaining summer movie that I don’t think was trying to be much more than that. It was escapist. I found it funny. What was most refreshing about the movie was seeing four women allowed to be goofy, without that negating their characters’ heroism and intelligence.

Frankly, I’d rather see new stories be written with female leads. But, do I think the movie’s warranted the hate it’s gotten? No. The film’s greatest crime is being a remake but plenty of truly terrible movies get released these days. The question to ask is when a remake is ever acceptable, and whether or not people will react as furiously to the up-and-coming Ben-Hur remake as they did to this, that is if their frustration is with Hollywood being remake-happy and not with this Ghostbusters having a female cast.

I’ll bite, I don’t usually like remakes. For instance, I hated the 2013 Carrie remake. Still, I don’t see remakes to be that much more damaging than the countless unnecessary sequels that get made and the scores of book-to-film adaptations that only do the original authors a disservice. But, this is the reality of modern cinema. It’s much more lucrative to take an already established story and make a film out of it than to gamble with producing an original screenplay. The main purpose of a “blockbuster” is to be a commercial success, in case that wasn’t already obvious.

Perhaps, if you’re frustrated by Ghostbusters getting remade (and not just for the wrong reasons), maybe the issue isn’t with this particular movie, but modern Hollywood as a whole.

Knowing this, I still see every Marvel movie that hits theaters and am anxiously awaiting Rogue One (coming this December) and Star Wars: Episode VIII. They’re entertaining and while not without their flaws, are still great stories with fascinating characters. I do hope that someday again we might see a purely original, imaginative series that takes the world by storm, becoming the Star Wars of a different generation. Sure, we’ve gotten close a few times, but the nature of what movies are successful today makes a feat like that difficult.


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