The good news is that a new Ghostbusters film is finally looking likely: writer-director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) announced on Wednesday that he has been engaged to write a Ghostbusters sequel with Katie Dippold (The Heat).
Further good news is that the film will likely not star Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, and the other remaining cast members of the 1980s films, as there is surely no way that they could recreate the humor and insouciance of the earlier films in the current dotage. (Cameos by the principles are likely, of course.)
Possibly good news, though possibly not, is that the new film “will star hilarious women. That’s who I’m gonna call,” as Feig announced via Twitter. Casting women in the lead roles certainly reduces the relevance of comparisons between the 1980s cast and the (as yet unannounced) cast of the reboot, which is all to the good, and Feig has shown that he knows how to write and direct funny films with female leads.
But a large part of the charm of Ghostbusters was the central characters’ appealing combination of iconoclasm and idealism. Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) dispensed numerous quips throughout the film, and Ray Stantz (Dan Ackroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) established a background of stability with their decency and sensibleness, all of which was given further comic force by the befuddled reactions of Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) and Louis Tully (Rick Moranis). The strong cast was as important to the films’ success as the ridiculous story lines and impressive special effects. The films, especially the first one, were highly unusual in their depiction of bourgeois entrepreneurship as rebellious and exciting, and the cast had no small part in embodying that concept.
All of that will change with the new cast, though that was inevitable if the reboot was to be anything but a pale remake of the original films. Feig’s films have shown him to have a pretty sound understanding of contemporary absurdities, which was a strength of the original Ghostbusters films. Other filmmakers have made a couple of good supernatural comedies in recent years, such as The Watch and This Is the End. To be successful, the new Ghostbusters will have to be at least as funny and spectacular as those films while at least attempting to be as sensible in its foundations as its Ghostbusters predecessors. Perhaps this new direction in casting the film will help.