Yesterday, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones were named as the likely stars of Paul Feig’s long-awaited all-female “Ghostbusters” reboot (according to The Hollywood Reporter, the women are “in negotiations”). Naturally, the announcement garnered one of two possible reactions, ranging from "OMG THIS IS FREAKING EPIC" excitegasms to the dismayingly standard "why are we even rebooting this?" chauvinism. While it’s safe to say we swing strongly towards the first pole, we also feel like crowning the heirs to Venkman and Spengler's proton packs is no light matter. There were a lot of strong contenders bandied about -- Emma Stone, Amy Poehler, Lizzy Caplan, Jennifer Lawrence -- and the naming of the chosen ones calls for some more measured analysis. So let’s evaluate the choices:
Pros: McCarthy has the most successful track record as a comedic movie star and -- not that "Ghostbusters" is going to need it -- she’s also the ensemble’s most bankable lead, with a proven ability to convert star-power into box office results. Her wacky energy and strong physical comedy skills work best when she's able to play off someone with a more understated style (like Bullock in "The Heat," or Wiig in "Bridesmaids"). Basically, we're hoping Paul Feig will be able to recapture some of that "Bridesmaids" magic, with McCarthy as the fearless firecracker to Wiig’s discombobulated heroine.
Cons: Unfortunately, many of McCarthy’s recent outings, like "Tammy" and "Identity Thief," have shown the actress getting typecast into a sort of brash potty-mouth stereotype, one that relies less on her comedic timing than on her body type as punchline. With the way the four "Ghostbusters" are designed to embody different archetypes, we worry this could be another excuse to once again flatten her diverse comedic gifts into something disappointingly one-note.
Pros: Wiig and McCarthy are the clear lynchpins of the cast here, as the two 'Busters with by far the most film experience. Wiig, in particular, has displayed a lot of range, from her quirky "SNL" characters to her more somber outings as a dramatic actress. Hopefully this film will allow her to find that sweet spot she hit in "Bridesmaids": the lovable screwball who walks the line between lovability and detestability (our own Peter Venkman, perhaps?)
It pains me to admit it, but it’s been a while since Wiig has done anything that funny. Her recent attempts at dramedies haven’t exactly sailed for me, and lately I’ve been starting to wonder if she’s still got it (even her 2013 "SNL" appearance was pretty disappointing). Then again, this role could be exactly what Wiig needs to put her back in her element.
Pros: McKinnon, with her virtuoso character-work and her Jim Carrey-esque ability to garner laughs merely by contorting her facial muscles, has perhaps the most offbeat, kooky energy of the bunch. While the others tend to usually play some version of the same character, McKinnon's something of a wild card, and I can't wait to see what she's going to cook up here. Of any of them, McKinnon might have the best chance of giving birth to a wholly new, original character, one that could turn her into an instant movie star.
Cons: Here, the pro also doubles as a con -- this is McKinnon's first major movie role, and it remains to be seen whether her character work can flourish outside of SNL’s heavily joke-based sketch format.
Pros: The most surprising choice here, seeing as she only became a cast-member on "SNL" last May (on a personal level, it’s pretty freaking awesome to see the way Jones' star has risen). She has been one of the show’s standouts since she came on; as this weekend’s episode showed, she shines when acting as the exasperated voice of reason, while her powerful presence and confident, no-filter attitude represents a different sort of personality thrown into the mix.
Cons: Jones hasn’t had that much acting experience beyond "SNL" -- Chris Rock's "Top Five" is a recent exception -- and while her Weekend Update spots are often instant classics, she hasn’t displayed a huge amount of range in her characters (unlike the others, she has a standup background, not improv). Like McKinnon, we’re curious to see whether she has the acting chops to pull off a major film.
Pros: Not only are these women all uniquely funny in their own right (and in their own unique ways), we also know that they can work together as a team. Most of them have tested on-screen chemistry — Wiig and Jones were all on "SNL" together, while Wiig and McCarthy slayed in "Bridesmaids" — and their sketch backgrounds should be a good basis for this sort of ensemble-based film.
Cons: Is it just us, or is it unnecessarily parochial that the new lineup follows the same casting patterns as the original: three white actors and one African American? Add to that the fact that Leslie Jones is by far the least known of the bunch, much as Ernie Hudson was, and it makes us a little worried that the character will be sidelined the way Hudson's Winston Zeddmore was. In the same vein, as we expressed above, the fact that are all the women are such different physical archetypes smacks a little of typecasting, like flipping the gender was as far as they were willing to push a new interpretation of the characters.
(But reservations aside, this is still going to be epic).