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My TV Dinner

Every Friday The Social's digital correspondent, Jessica Allen, answers two questions we face every day. What should I eat? And what should I watch? The answer for one is frequently found in the other.

How eating pizza and watching Ghostbusters can lead to deep thoughts

Jessica Allen reflects on sexism and Ghostbusters, both old and new

Two things occurred to me on Sunday night when Simon and I re-watched the original 1984 Ghostbusters — a film we’ve collectively seen dozens of times but not in the last decade: first, it wasn’t as funny as we remembered, and second, Dr. Peter Venkman, played by Bill Murray, is not just a scientist: he’s a stalker.  

Although we didn’t finish the movie, we polished off an entire pepperoni pizza from Maker Pizza, along with 10 of the best chicken wings I’ve ever consumed. The shop, tucked away on a side street near Queen and Spadina, hasn’t so much re-invented the takeaway pie: they’ve just crafted one that delivers everything you want from a pizza today — and then some that you didn’t even know you craved.

Much like the remake of Ghostbusters, which opens Friday, although I enjoyed a sneak peak on Monday night. The movie, which sees director Paul Feig reunited with Melissa McCarthy for their fourth summertime comedy, stars McCarthy and Wiig as friends Abby and Erin whose childhood obsession with the paranormal resulted in a co-written book: “Ghosts From Our Past: Both Literally and Figuratively.” No wonder that when the out-of-print publication resurfaces it gets in the way of Erin being tenured at Columbia.

Two current SNL players round out the cast: Kate McKinnon is the eccentric engineer Jillian and Leslie Jones plays Patty, a subway attendant highly versed in the city’s lore. (The actress may have had some difficulty finding a dress for the remake’s New York City premiere, but she has no difficulty stealing every scene she’s in.) Chris Hemsworth as Kevin the secretary, who has difficulty walking, talking, and answering a telephone — but he sure is pretty — rounds out the cast.

Listen, the plot is pretty much poppycock. But so too was the original’s. Maybe that’s on account of both Ghostbusters being kids movies. (The original was rated PG while the remake, which is scarier, is PG-13.) And while the remake lacks some of that ad-libbed charm that Murray provided, it is funny: my head was so light from laughing that I nearly floated out of my seat.

Spoiler alert: these four new Ghostbusters are all women. The Neanderthals who couldn’t process that, we can dismiss. Others, however, expressed disdain over the remake being a symptom of the bankruptcy of Hollywood. But Hollywood has been retelling stories for a while now, and some of those retellings, I think, are better than the originals: The Thing, True Grit, The Bird Cage, Heaven Can Wait, to name a few.

The arguments about Ghostbusters — about the validity of remakes, about the creeping revenge of marginalized groups that somehow taint or diminish the original product that apparently belongs to another group (mostly obtuse white males) — would be insipid in the best of times. After the events of the last few weeks, the fact that anyone has excess anger or outrage to spare over Ghostbusters with vaginas is staggering.

I want to be sympathetic. Perhaps the complexities of the world drive us back to childish things. But there is a difference in taking a slight moment of nostalgic refuge in a youthful memory and in being childish.

Both sets of critics may not go see Ghostbusters. Although they’ll miss out on some air-conditioned summertime fun with a multitude of thrilling cameos, not to mention touching homages to the original that you might miss if you blink, let’s be at peace with that.

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