When word came out several years ago about the new Ghostbusters remake casting four women as the leads, misogynists flipped out. Claims of “reverse sexism” and “ruining my childhood” were tossed around. I figured the film would be funny at best and another mediocre reboot attempt at worst. Well, I’m sad to say I was wrong. I’ve seen the film, and unfortunately what seemed like ridiculous criticisms at the time came true. As you can see in my description of the plot below, the 2016 version of Ghostbusters sacrifices the laughs and heart of the original for the sake of a political agenda.
(SPOILERS from here on out, so tread carefully if you don’t want to hear what happens.)
The film opens in a blackbox theater. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson are led by three women, naked and on leashes, onto the stage. Murray steps forward and, in the tone of a hostage reading a message from his captor, says, “We, the privileged male Ghostbusters, are evil by default because we are men. That is why we must be punished and replaced. All men, both Ghostbuster and non-Ghostbuster alike, should be imprisoned and/or gelded.” Hudson then says, “Sony murdered Harold Ramis because he was a tool of the patriarchy.” The three then get on their knees and chant, “Thank you, blessed givers of life. We bow before you in eternal shame. All hail the new women Ghostbusters, and that’s womyn spelled with a ‘y.'” Ray Parker, Jr.’s iconic opening riff plays as a a giant bucket of period blood is dumped on their heads.
We then cut to Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon all wearing plain clothes, sitting on the backs of four naked and trembling men’s rights activists. McCarthy says, “Hey, Men Who Went to See This Movie: we tricked you! This isn’t a comedy. We’re barely even in it. Now meet the four unfunny but nonetheless inspiring feminist icons who will actually be playing the new Ghostbusters.” We’re then joined by Gloria Steinem, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, bell hooks, and Ani DiFranco, all wearing Ghostbusters jumpsuits and proton packs. Unsmiling, Steinem says, “There will be no jokes or action in this film. Only displays of support for all womankind.” You then hear the sound effect of a proton pack powering on as Bader Ginsburg removes the pack’s gun from its holster.
I wish I could say it got better from there, but it doesn’t. The rest of the film is a series of disjointed vignettes. For example:
* Throughout the four hour run time, the famous Ghostbuster logo of a ghost with a red line through it is replaced with a white phallic symbol with a red line through it.
* All the ghosts scream misogyst catch phrases before being busted. At one point Slimer orders – not asks – Bader Ginsburg to make him a sandwich.
* There’s a scene where they bum rush Rick Moranis on the doorstep of his home to ask him to apologize for how Louis Tully “mansplained” taxes to Dana Barrett in the original. A confused Moranis, not in character and clearly unaware they were coming, politely asks them to exit his property.
* Elizabeth Warren gives a ten minute rant on why Ghostbusters 2 sucked. There wasn’t even anything about feminism in her speech. She actually raised a lot of good points here, this was the best part of the movie.
The film’s finale is the most troubling part of all. We see a giant, Wicker Man-like scene in which Hudson, Aykroyd, and Murray are being burned at the stake as the entire cast dances around the pyre naked. Steinem wears the hyde of the guy who played EPA Agent Peck on her head. Then a giant dump truck containing every known copy of the original Ghostbusters is dumped on top of the pyre, making the flames grow. “You’ll never be able to watch it again!” shouts a hysterical Kristen Wiig, cackling maniacally. “Down with the patriarchy!” The women then all raise off the ground, chanting in tongues as a shrieking Murray, Hudson and Aykroyd burn alive.
Ghostbusters (2016): 2 out of 4 stars. Check local listings for locations and times. Rated PG-13 for mild language, violence, and guys being burned alive.