Monday, July 25, 2016

GHOSTBUSTERS: Girls' night out!

Congratulations Celia Fowler, yesterday's winner of an ARC of Susan Elia MacNeal's THE QUEEN'S ACCOMPLICE.
HALLIE EPHRON: And I thought nothing could ever get me back into a real movie theater. At 10 to 15 bucks a pop? Five more for yellow popcorn?

Turns out all it took was a sh-t storm over remaking one of my favorite movies with an all-female cast.

As anyone who isn’t living under a rock knows, the Internet has been awash in nastiness from outraged (mostly anonymous) fans of the original GHOSTBUSTERS who turned thumbs-down long before the remake was even filmed, never mind released. What did they expect? After all, if you name a movie after an iconic portable vacuum cleaner, the ladies are bound to jump in and take over.

Zoot alors, a young female "film critic" blogger decried of the remake: “This isn’t about feminism. This is about greed.” Uh, so what’s yer point? Welcome to Hollywood.

As someone who loved the original GHOSTBUSTERS (GHOSTBUSTERS II not so much) and who’s a huge fan of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones, if I could’ve bought my ticket six months ago I would have. I went to see it at one in the afternoon on day-two of its run at my local AMC theatre. Only seats left were in the front, but we grabbed them.

Maybe I was seduced by the theater (when did they convert to stadium seating with red leather recliners). Or the A/C (it was 92 degrees out). 

It certainly was not the 20 (really, 20) minutes of coming attractions for 10 (really 10) movies followed by an ad for Coca Cola that ran AFTER the supposed movie start time. And it certainly wasn’t the great sound system that was so loud I had to stuff tissues in my ears.

Whatever it was, I loved it, beginning to… hmmm, maybe three-quarters through when, as my friend Michael Courtemanche pointed out, it tipped over into too much SFX and too little funny. Plus, watching villainous creatures rampaging through New York feels a little too close to watching the news.

But then, the final credits are sublime!! An unexpected bonus after the mayhem.

And the cameos! My favorite: Annie Potts! She played the  receptionist ("Whaddaya want?") in the original (one of the guys says to her: “Janine, someone with your qualification would have no trouble finding a top-flight job in either the food service or housekeeping industries” ) turns up as a clerk in a haunted hotel.

Confess. When’s the last time you went to a real movie theater, laughed yourself silly, and what other iconic bro-bonding movies would you like to see rebooted with a female cast?

LUCY BURDETTE: Hmmm, not sure I'd be running out to see this movie, but we love seeing movies at the Tropic Cinema in Key West. We walk to the theater--a huge bonus--and if you're a member, you get reduced prices. We saw SPOTLIGHT (loved it), the animated Oscar shorts (not so much), Helen Mirren in the English version of THE AUDIENCE (heaven), BROOKLYN (good), and I saw ROOM (tough but amazing.) So nothing laugh-out-loud, but lots of good movies in a real theater!

HALLIE: Hmm. Not too many belly laughs in those.

RHYS BOWEN: How about Twelve Just Women? I have to remind myself sometimes that it's only recently that women were allowed to sit on a jury.

Most iconic male movies would feel awkward with a female cast--that the object of the movie was to prove a point. And I don't know if I'll see Ghostbusters in the theater. As Hallie said it's just too loud and overpowering. The last movie I saw was Love and Friendship. More my style and quite funny.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I went to see GHOSTBUSTERS Sunday after it opened with Ross and two Smithies (mine and her friend.) We all enjoyed the movie, although I'll agree with you, Hallie, that I was just waiting for the SFX bonanza in the climactic fight to get over so the flock could get back to the good stuff - the interactions between characters.

I was explaining to Ross afterwards how wonderful it is to see a movie with women front and center where the sex of the main characters ISN'T the point. In so many, many films today, actresses play The Woman: the mother, the wife, the gf, the damsel in distress. The fact the character is female is the main point and feature of the character: "Look, our hero regrets breaking up with his wife!" "Look, our here's daughter is in danger!" "Look, our hero is an ordinary schlub who winds up with a babe 5X hotter than he is!"

In GHOSTBUSTERS, as in Paul Feig's BRIDESMAIDS, THE HEAT and SPY, the stories could easily be told around a group of guys. Really - picture Jonah Hill in the Melissa McCarthy roles and Vince Vaugn as Kristin Wiig or Sandra Bullock. The fact that they're filled with women instead of men is..revelatory, like the first time I saw a female Episcopal priest. "You mean women can do that?"

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: We'll be seeing Ghostbusters this week and taking Kiddo, of course! So excited to see a movie that would pass the Bechdel test — where "The Bechdel test (/ˈbɛkdəl/ bek-dəl) asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added."

If you're looking for another movie (for the young (or young-at-heart) with strong female leads, I'd recommend Pixar's Academy Award-winning Inside Out, with Amy Pohler and Mindy  Kaling.

HALLIE: I loved Inside Out. And it might actually be the last movie I saw in a movie theater before Ghostbusters. (Before that: UP (in 3D)

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Hmm. Not sure I'll go to Ghostbusters. You are so right about Bechdel, Susan! And it's such an amazing filter.  Anyway, I'm intrigued by the question "when was the last time you went to a movie and laughed yourself silly?" I am really having to think about that. Sadly, it might have been -oh, gosh, I am spacing the title. But it had animals, and they sang Polka Dot Afro.   Does watching The Court Jester at home count?  I did cheer all the way through Working Girl, and then cried, but that's different.

And sadly, and anti-all of this, I really laughed at The Wedding Crashers. But they could easily make that with women. Wait. Now, really mulling this over, if they did, it would be SUCH a completely different movie, and the women would be reviled as "everything a woman is not supposed to be." Whereas for Vince Vaughn and what's his name, they are hilarious.

Which is, I guess, the point of this.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Honestly, I am so out of it that I didn't realize until a week ago that the remake of GHOSTBUSTERS had become this big cultural deal. I thought, oh, okay, well, that might be fun. I liked the original, so why not? And then I find out people are incensed because the characters are played by WOMEN? Is this the dark ages, or what??? (No, don't answer that...)

I'm sure we'll see it, but probably when it's available streaming. We are so spoiled to our very fancy movie theater with reclining seats (and pillows and blankets, I kid you not) and dinner and drinks service. But it's expensive--although not more than dinner out somewhere and then a movie at a regular theater. Still, we only go every couple of months, and we usually save those outings for "must see on big screen" movies. This summer it will probably be STAR TREK, and then JASON BOURNE at the end of August. (I have confessed before that I'm an action movie junkie...)

The movie I think of right off the bat that makes me laugh until I cry is so politically incorrect that I'm not going to admit to it:-) 

HALLIE: What guy flicks do you think they should remake with gender roles reversed?

I nominate:
Easy Rider
The Sting
Duck Soup
The Hustler
Blazing Saddles
Monty Python and the Holy Grail


  1. Unless it’s an outing with grandchildren, we seldom go to the movies [although I could be very tempted by reclining seats and dinner and drinks] . . . however, we did see STAR TREK BEYOND the day it opened.

  2. Aren't those red leather recliners flipping amazing! But I can't remember the last time I saw a movie other than on Netflix or Amazon. We are addicted to "Live at the Met" from September thru May, get reserved red leather seats and bring food and wine. It seems to be allowed for opera.

    However, I really want to see Ghostbusters Redux as well as the new AbFab film. Just not sure when that will happen. This is a busy summer, still have one more graduation party to attend this weekend. Love the notion of the Bechdel test. Thanks for the reminder Susan.

    Crawling back under my rock after seeing the morning line on Hillary and Whatshisname.

  3. Joan AND... I'm a long time Star Trek fan, Joan, though my favorite series was not the original but Next Generation. And of course those shows over the years have some pretty fabulous female characters (7 of 9!) though Janeway left me unenthused.

    How's the new one?

  4. We really enjoyed the Star Trek film, Hallie . . . a couple of unexpected plot twists, great female characters, especially Uhura and Jaylah. The franchise seems to be in good hands with J. J. Abrams. Hard to believe it's been fifty years, though . . . .

  5. Has anyone seen AbFab yet?? I don't know a thing about it.

  6. Just saw Star Trek last night -- loved it, all good fun, but it would not pass the Bechdel test... I propose a remake of Ferris Beuller's Day.

  7. Hank, I think the animated film you're describing is Madagascar II, which WAS crazy fun. And Minions, too. Brilliant. Both How to Train Your Dragon movies are great, and I loved, loved, loved Peabody & Sherman. Isn't it the best to have grandkids to "take" to movies? I always thank my grandson for being such a good excuse to see kids' films!

    Most kids' movies seem to be male-oriented buddy films, alas. You could remake Minions and make them female--they are SO obviously male. I like that Dory is now the star of the Finding Nemo heritage. That's kind of a remake.

    I've just searched through all the movies released in 2014 til now, and realized I've pretty much only seen the kids' movies, plus Monuments Men and a couple others that we watched here at home. We don't go to many theaters. However, we watch Netflix all the time, or at least my husband does. I can't stand seeing how many awful movies get made. Plus, I'd usually rather read a book than watch anything violent.

    Melissa McCarthy is a treasure, and she's a game changer, too. If you haven't seen Spy I highly recommend it. I don't want to spoil the fun, but she turns spy movies and gender expectations upside down, inside out and sideways. And makes you laugh while doing it.

    For remakes, how about Blues Brothers, Grumpy Old Men, About a Boy, and The Odd Couple?

  8. Wouldn't Ferris make a great female character!? Just imagine the uproar!!
    How about Revenge of the Nerd-ettes? Or has it already been done??

  9. Karen, I loved SPY, too. Saw it on a plane. And again on maybe Amazon with my kids. My husband loved it, too.

  10. I saw it this weekend, too! I loved it and can't wait to see it again (at home in my pjs and much cheaper with better food).

  11. Hallie! FAV photo ever! Great job--I do not know how you do that.

    And I am obsessed with female Wedding Crashers. The entire premise is embarrassing from a female POV. But here's the thing: what if… ONE of the women (A) was trying to help the other (B) because of..something. Maybe-- B is un-selfconfident, or getting over a bad relationship, or is shy. SHe's shy, and never knows what to say, so A tells her if they crash weddings, no one knows who she is anyway, and she can just make up stories, so she doesn't have to worry. So its a confidence builder. And etc. It works better if the women are not predatory, but just--buddies in need. Then of course A meets someone, and something happens, and B has to help, an B realizes she went as shy as she thought.

    Or they're zombies and it's The Wedding Slashers.

  12. Female Wedding Crashers would be stellar. I think the last time I laughed out loud at a movie was Three Men and a Baby. I don't get out much :). That is one that would definitely NOT work as a sex swap. Oh and I loved the Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson movie--what was that called. Laughed out loud, but saw it streaming. What a fun topic.

  13. I think the reason a female Wedding Crashers would take some pretzeling to work is that it's a romantic comedy. (I say this having not seen it... so I could be wrong) The thing about Ghostbusters is that it doesn't have a romantic bone in its body. No traditional stereotyped relationships to upend. Smart to take an action flick and axe the whole Sigourney Weaver/femme fatale. (In her cameo Sigourney Weaver feels much more like Ripley than Dana Barrett.)

    Kair: Something's Gotta Give, I think.
    I need to think about Three Men and a Baby. How could you...

  14. Hallie, that's a pretty good list.

    The Girl went to see Ghostbusters with a friend. She proclaimed it "good, not great, but not a complete waste of my money." She saw a matinee, which is at least a *little* cheaper. As someone who is a great fan of the original (okay, c'mon - that cast is awesome), I saw no purpose to remaking the film, but hey - someone thought they could make money. Fine. I saw no need to remake True Grit. I hear they are remaking Ben Hur. The remade The Magnificent Seven. All films I see no reason to remake, but...whatever.

    Like Debs, I tend to save my movie-going for the big-screen action flicks (Hi, I'm Mary and I like action flicks). We trade in our American Express points for movie coupons. Last one we saw was Captain America: Civil War (freaking amazing movie - so good with plot and character development). We'll see the new Star Trek. Don't know if I'll see Bourne - I like Matt Damon, but what is the plot going to be?

    And yeah, 7 of 9 was great, but Janeway? Meh>

  15. Oh and I was just about to write the screenplay. Well so much for that idea.
    Nevertheless, Wedding Crashers--which I suppose is a romantic comedy if you like twisted --has the funniest first scene I have ever seen.

  16. Wedding Crashers... Going right now to see if it's on Netflix or Amazon...

  17. Oceans Eleven, et alii . . .

    The Outsiders

    I plan to see "AbFab" first but "Ghost Busters" is on my (short) list.

  18. I love Hank's list. How about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Big Lebowski, or a Lethal Weapon/48 Hours cop-buddy flick?

  19. Jim, hmmm… wonder if Thelma and Louise was Butch Cassidy? Hmmm..

  20. Great, Hallie! I am now watching it in my head and laughing.

  21. Butch Cassidy & the SD Kid -- brilliant.

    The Odd Couple. I'm sure that's been done.

  22. Maybe the female Odd Couple IS Thelma and Louise?

  23. The female Butch Cassidy is Thelma and Louise...

  24. So right, Hank. It would be fun to see how closely the plot and screenplay compare, but I haven't seen either in years.

    We watched Inside Llewyn Davis, this weekend. Trying to imagine that with a female lead. Could be done, although the movie was kinda-sorta based on a NY folksinger named Dave Van Ronk. But would we watch a brooding female lead not making it clubs, couch surfing, and trying to decide whether or not to give up and go back to...waiting tables? (It's the Merchant Marines in the movie.) (The music, by the way, is fabulous.)

  25. Best female-sub-for a male-lead in a movie that I've seen was Helen Mirren as Prospera in The Tempest. And there were some pretty funny moments in that film--I mean, who would've thought 'Shakespeare' and 'Russell Brand' would work??

  26. The last movie I saw in the theater was The Imitation Game. This will probably be the last theater screening for me, as my severe hearing loss prevented my from hearing the soundtrack.

    12 Angry Men one of my favorite dramas) has been staged as 12 Angry Women or 12 Angry Jurors. It would be nice to see one of these versions filmed.

    I vote for redoing the Bond films with Jane Bond. Can you imagine the gender uproar?

  27. What about the MI-5 franchise with women? I'd see that in a heartbeat.

    The last die-laughing movie I saw in the theater was "Bridesmaids." And Kristin Wiig -- is she generally fantastic, or what? I rented "Welcome to Me," which is darker, satirical, and offbeat funny. It's about a bipolar woman who wins the lottery and spends the money to produce a talk show in which all she talks about is herself. It's good. :-)

  28. How about The Godmother, instead of The Godfather; that would be so And not to mention it would probably be a blockbuster flick; just sayin'...

  29. The name's Jane... Jane Bond. I can see it, Lisa!

  30. If you want to see a terrific female spy, watch Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust (and she does look a lot like Ingrid Bergman, so I'd bet the name was deliberate) in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. She is superb. And she rescues Tom Cruise, not vice versa.

  31. I want to see Ghostbusters. I shared the feeling that it didn't need to be remade, period, but if they were going to do so, I actually think female was a great way to go. And I'm so glad I didn't have to be the first to say that Star Trek is my must-see movie this summer. I have a date to go with my son when he's home next weekend.

    Mary Sutton: I was also strongly opposed to remaking True Grit. Then somehow I got talked into going, and I became a convert. The REALLY funny thing is that as I was watching it, I didn't think I liked it. It is such a different movie from the first. (I'm told the remake is much truer to the book.) But it really stuck in my head and after a while, I had to admit that I loved the new version. Not as a replacement, but as a really different movie.

  32. I thought Ripley in Alien was written gender neutral. And I thought that was great. No changing of the main character that screamed woman instead of man. I haven't seen the new Ghostbusters but I think Melissa McCarthy would make anything good. She was hilarious in Spy. She and Sandra Bullock were in a buddy movie where one was a cop and the other an FBI agent. What would that be a riff of? Lethal Weapon?
    I don't go to the movies much anymore. I will probably take my granddaughter to see the AbFab movie or the Jane Austen comedy while she's visiting.

  33. Susan - True Grit, yeah. I heard the same thing. I didn't think I liked it much when I first saw it, but as time went on it got better. More likely, I came to appreciate it more. As you said, not a replacement but it's own story.

  34. Mission Impossible... Really? I confess after Tom Cruise messed up Jack Reacher, I haven't been able to watch him. Though he was great in A Few Good Men, a movie that would make no sense with a female cast.

    How did I miss the remake of True Grit?

  35. I meant the MIB -- the Men in Black franchise! Totally different thing going there -- could totally do with women. WIB!

  36. Loved Men in Black! Yup, I can see WIB, Lisa

  37. I used to love going to the movies, but I think I've gotten curmudgeonly in my reactions to the distractions at the movie theaters. Rude people who pull out their cell phone to check whatever and cast an unwanted glow, who kick seats, who talk, who bring kids to movies that are too old for them and then wonder why the kids are restless. Gee, I need to shake that off and get back to the theater. I do like going with the granddaughters because my main expectation there is to just enjoy being with them. My daughter brings the girls over once every summer and we go to the drive-in, which is 20 minutes away. That's always fun.

    I think that the convenience of Netflix streaming and Amazon Prime and other ways to see movies these days has been the biggest factor in me not going to the theater anymore. Which is a shame. I used to love the ambiance of the movie theater and the big screen. Growing up, I had the best, most magical theater ever in which to watch movies. There were faux balconies on the walls with magical scenes and columns and a feeling of entering another world. Of course, it used to be that going to the movies was the main type of date, so good memories there, too.

    The last in-theater movie where I laughed hard didn't have anything to do with the movie. A couple of friends and I went to see a serious movie (can't remember the name, but it had Vanessa Redgrave dying and thinking back to her youth), and I sat trying to hear the movie for about 10 or 15 minutes. I knew my hearing wasn't great, but I was really worried about it now. Finally, I turned to one of my friends and whispered that I couldn't hear what the actors were saying. She looked at me and admitted she couldn't either. We both then turned to our other friend who had a familiar puzzled look on her face. Well, long story short, none of us could hear it, and we were only a fourth of the way up from the screen. Pretty soon, it became apparent that others were bending in to try and hear. I went off to find a theater employee and tell them that nobody could hear the movie. It was adjusted, and we enjoyed the rest of the movie, and we had a great laugh over it all.

    I haven't seen the new Ghostbusters movie yet, but I'm thinking of going this week. I've loved the idea of a female cast for it since the beginning of the buzz about it, and the actresses playing the parts are great choices. Hank, I agree that Thelma and Louise is the female Butch Cassidy. Denise Ann, I agree with your pick of Oceans Eleven as a good female remake. Lisa, MIB, too. Hallie, I like the idea of The Sting as a female remake, too.

    And, I am so jealous, Debs, of the red recliners and your movie theater.

  38. Kathy, love your story about not being able to hear and realizing, it wasn't about you.

    We used to have two local movie theaters. One was torn down just a few weeks ago. We watched it disappear in stages. Fascinating. It was a terrible theatre - sticky floors, curmudgeonly management, and we once saw a movie (Little Women with Winona Ryder) that had been spliced together with a chunk from the middle tacked onto the end. I don't miss it.

    Our other local theatre is now a terrific restaurant. Vast. They play movies on the walls.

    Kathy, all our AMC theaters have those red recliners. When an all stadium seating theatre opened not far away, they had to compete.

  39. Yes, WIB! I'd go for that!

    Hallie, I like the Mission Impossible movies because it's always about the team, they're clever, and the problems are not solved by two men beating--or blowing--each other up.

  40. Lisa, I thought MI-5 referred to the Bond franchise! LOL

    Oh, yeah, I'd totally watch a Women in Black movie.

  41. Hi Karen -- I saw your comment and then Hallie's. Whoopsie! I liked your response -- Jane. Jane Bond.

    Maybe she could be James' long lost twin sister. :-)

  42. Oh yeah -- but from which Bond Girl? Hah!

  43. Any of the ones who didn't die at the end! That doesn't leave that many.

  44. Yeah, too bad about those Bond girls.

  45. The Hangover might be an interesting all-female remake, but maybe that's what Bridesmaids was? I somehow missed that one. Rather than an all-female cast to counter and all-male cast, I'd like to see more women dropped into gender neutral roles that now go to men. Debs has long heard my prime example: that Lando Calrissian should have been a woman. Think about it. An old "associate" of Han Solo's, back to help, when Leia isn't exactly sure what that association amounted to, and Han would just as soon forget the whole thing? It could have been a whole lot of fun. But there are tons of emergency room doctors, beat cops, and other casual speaking parts with names that could make the movie world look more like the real world, where women are 53% of the adult population. I love to see movies in the theater, by the way. I usually go to the early-bird/before noon showing which is cheaper and less crowded on a weekend, with the added bonus of leaving the rest of your day free for your own adventures. I laugh out loud a lot, although not usually all the way through, particularly since some of the movies I've seen this year include Spotlight, Bridge of Spies, and Captain America: Civil War. Good stories, all, but not exactly laugh-a-minute scripts. I had hoped to fit in both Ghostbusters and Star Trek: Beyond this past weekend, but got overtaken by the heat and the urge to nap. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day.

  46. Honestly, can we please just have good original screenplays with women in strongly written roles? Maybe even women who are over forty? ::sigh:: A woman can dream...

    But yeah, okay, failing that, if you can disguise them cleverly (Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid --> Thelma & Louise), that'll do. Just please no direct remakes!

  47. Congratulations to the winner of the ARC for the Queen's Accomplice.

    The new Ghostbusters is a must see! I want to see the movie,

    Loved the movie Love and Friendship.