Tag Archives: Kristen Wiig

Does it Matter that “Wonder Woman 1984” is Meaningful, Unique, and Average?

“Wonder Woman 1984” is balanced on a fine line between nonsense and beauty. It opens with one of the best sequences in a superhero film. Then it has a mall fight that takes place much like it would in a 1980s movie. Choices like these make the film constantly hard to pin down.

Parts of it feel a lot more like a superhero movie from the 80s, particularly the Christopher Reeve-era “Superman” movies. These included both good moments and bad, and “Wonder Woman 1984” follows suit.

The plot is pretty simple. What if “The Secret” were true, everyone got their wish, and a Trumpian con-man was the only one who knew how to take advantage of it? “Wonder Woman 1984” never feels like a horror movie, except that its ideas and their consequences feel horrific because of the current events they speak to.

A lot of people don’t like this film. I do. I’ll cut the argument out of it right now – both views are right, depending on what you want out of a movie like this. “Wonder Woman 1984” triples down on its central theme and spends about as much time with Pedro Pascal’s villain Maxwell Lord and Kristen Wiig’s Dr. Barbara Minerva as it does with Wonder Woman and her alter-ego Dr. Diana Prince. If you buy into the central horror of the theme the movie’s running with, it can be an affecting experience you’ll want to see through. There’s also nothing wrong with slipping up on the film’s often generalized writing and thinking it’s all too uneven and directionless. Both are pretty accurate reads, and it’s one reason why the movie’s proving divisive.

This difference comes out of whether you want to see this film’s story or whether you want to see a Wonder Woman superhero movie. It’s strange that the movie has a really good idea what to do with Lord and his path, some idea what to do with Minerva’s, and almost no idea what it wants to do with Prince’s.

Lord has a direction that I’d argue makes him one of the best realized superhero villains we’ve seen. His writing is well thought out, entertaining, his performance is superb, and the character carries the movie’s extremely relevant central themes with direction and verve. Minerva’s path is increasingly generalized, but Wiig’s performance is deceptively good and overcomes that pretty easily. Prince’s path through the story is underwritten, often sappy, and takes shortcuts to bring her into plot alignment as the other two speed along. It’s a weird jolt after the first “Wonder Woman” followed her almost exclusively. This film gives her very little to do, and puts the most thought into Lord and how his journey carries the film’s themes.

If you’re ready to take the movie on its own terms and priorities, that may be fine. If you came specifically for a Wonder Woman movie focused on her as a superhero, it’s a big problem. Neither viewer’s preference is right or wrong, but you can see how each is going to have a wildly different experience watching the film.

On top of this, we spend more time with Prince the alter-ego than we do with Wonder Woman the superhero. Where it makes sense for Lord to develop the way he does and go from place to place the way he does, Wonder Woman seems to take advantage of some pretty big plot shortcutting. At one point, she steals a museum jet, and not only is it in working condition, it’s fueled up enough to take her halfway around the world.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this logic in this kind of movie. Superhero movies are often rife with shortcuts like these, but they usually explain it away with magic (or magical superscience) or they’re good enough at misdirection to help you overlook it. Not so here. The shortcuts are very visible and they’re badly written. I can forgive that in a superhero movie; not everyone will.

Are the action scenes good? They’re well done, but fairly sparse. They also risk something pretty refreshing for the genre – Wonder Woman is nigh untouchable. She is supposed to be both descended from gods and a godkiller. I’d say this makes the action veer close to cheesy. She swings from a glowing whip. She slides as much as she runs because otherwise her momentum would send her through walls – this can take some movements into Legolas shield-surfing territory. She runs faster than cars. Even when she’s severely weakened at points in the film, she uses an armored truck as a personal shield while running 70 miles per hour.

It’s refreshing because a lot of superhero movies right now have leaned into superheroics just being explosions vs. other explosions. Some of those explosions are very pretty, but at the end of the day, I don’t care who can explode more. If I wanted to see that I’d watch “Mythbusters” re-runs. If she’s akin to a god, then yeah, 99% of her combats should be breezes.

The last superhero movie that really tried doing that was Ang Lee’s “Hulk”. We know how that went. Unlike that film, though, the action isn’t a central point. Wait! What?!? Then what is a superhero movie where the action isn’t central? How can a superhero movie that prioritizes something other than action be the event movie experience we want?

I’d ask the opposite question. How have we tolerated so many superhero movies that only pose heroism as violence? Don’t get me wrong – I love my fight choreo. I’ve been trained, I’ve trained others, I’ve written on it extensively. But if all a superhero does is win by fighting, what’s their value? Superheroes are supposed to be a little more like…well, like “Star Trek”. They’re supposed to look for opportunities to communicate, to understand, to win the fight by not having to have it in the first place. How is this supposed to be a golden era of superhero movies when none of these superheroes remember that violence is only one of many tools they’re supposed to possess?

I remember the 1990s animated “Batman” series as most do: a high point in superhero storytelling (yeah, Batman’s not technically “super”, blah blah blah, I get it). That Batman got in plenty of fights, sure. And sometimes he gathered clues. Sometimes he went undercover and just talked to people for information. He saw many opportunities to talk to villains, to make them relent – sometimes because they still had a shred of humanity left, sometimes because all they’d wanted in the first place was someone to listen and understand. Some of the most exciting moments involved out-maneuvering a villain so well that the fight didn’t even have to take place. That’s a more capable and interesting hero than how we typically boil down the meaning of superheroes for movies.

I don’t see that very often in our superheroes anymore – every climax and set-piece is a fight. A lot of them are really awesome fights, but what about those battles that can’t be won with a fight? Those battles exist, and to never portray them means your storytelling is exceptionally limited. Those other stories used to exist in superhero adaptations. Where have they gone? “Wonder Woman 1984” remembers that superheroes are more than a pair of fists. Yes, she beats the pulp out of countless dudes, armored cars, deflects bullets, crushes dozens of guns in her hands. And she also finds other ways to solve a situation when appropriate.

That might strike some viewers as slow or anti-climactic. To me, it carries a lot of meaning. It makes the film more interesting because I know it’s willing to pose an unwinnable situation that might have to be solved in a way other than a fistfight we already know Wonder Woman will never lose. Figuring out how to outmaneuver unwinnable situations is interesting. Another fistfight or explosion-off can be entertaining, but if that’s all you have, if that’s the only way you know how to solve a situation in your movie, you start to lose a certain breadth in your storytelling.

“Wonder Woman 1984” is incredibly uneven, but it feels unique and valuable at least in this way. It sits relatively alone in modern superhero movies because the hero has more at their disposal than simply out-brutalizing someone else’s violence. That alone makes it a better superhero movie – specifically superhero movie – than a lot of the films featuring the best violence we can imagine through CGI. I don’t care about a 20 minute vignette about replacing a hammer with an axe, or who borrows what power, or if Iron Man has missiles that blow up 20% better than his previous ones. Give me a hero who sees more to their purpose than being an overzealous police officer, and you’ve won me over.

“Wonder Woman 1984” is not a great movie, but it’s one of a handful in the last decade that remembers a superhero is more about being an empathetic hero than being an impressive weapon. If it had spent a bit more time with that hero and given her more to do, it might be a better movie, but as is, I do think it’s a pointed one. Is that enough to make you like an uneven movie that badly needed a rewrite? That’s going to split viewership down the middle.

It’s an average movie that feels more original and less tiresome to me than many better movies in the genre that nonetheless make me feel pretty empty. I’ve said it before, I walked out of “Avengers: Endgame” both wildly impressed and also feeling like I’d just watched a pretty hollow, meaningless experience. “Wonder Woman 1984” didn’t impress me and it isn’t made nearly as well. But the experience is jam packed with meaning however unevenly it’s portrayed and discussed. Which is better? There are moods for each. Which are you looking for?

Does it Pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?

This section uses the Bechdel-Wallace Test as a foundation to discuss the representation of woman in film.

1. Does “Wonder Woman 1984” have more than one woman in it?

Yes. Gal Gadot plays Dr. Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman. Kristen Wiig plays Dr. Barbara Minerva. Robin Wright plays Antiope. Connie Nielsen plays Hippolyta. Lilly Aspell plays Diana at a younger age. Gabriella Wilde plays Raquel. There are a few other brief roles with speaking parts.

2. Do they talk to each other?

Yes.

3. About something other than a man?

Yes. Primarily this is through Prince and Minerva, who speak extensively about history, artifacts, and research they do at the Smithsonian Institution.

The movie makes a point of showing how constantly harassed both are on a daily basis. Because the film is so focused on Lord, however, you might get less screen time for Prince as the lead role and Minerva in such an important supporting role than you’d expect.

This is also a good section to discuss broader diversity. Here, the film has some good and really bad moments. There’s an unspoken element to Pascal’s character Lord, where a Latino character bends over backwards trying to present himself visually and culturally as white as possible in order to be accepted in the business world. This is brought out later in the film through flashbacks. Even if it’s never outright discussed, it’s something I’ve struggled with in my life and it was a very recognizable and impactful character note to include.

At the same time, our heroes go to a Mayan descendant at one point in the film for mythological/historical information. First, I’m sick of Mayans being the excuse for any film to just stick whatever make-believe nonsense they want to shove into a film. That there’s such a massive hole of mythological and historical information is the direct result of colonialist violence, and is not an excuse to supplant and rewrite what’s missing with whatever your fiction needs. Yet it gets worse:

The character talks about being related to Mayans several generations back and uses the phrase “our people” to describe them. He is played by an Indian-American actor who in both my research and the research of other critics seems in no way to be Latino or indigenous. To simply take one person of color and assign him as another person of color is a disturbingly racist misappropriation of inclusion and representation, and is one of the most glaringly offensive moments I’ve seen in a film all year.

You can watch “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max with a subscription.

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Let’s Cast! “Ghostbusters”

Ghostbusters Emma Stone

Introduction by Kevan Tucker

Ghostbusters is a movie near and dear to my heart. It was one of my first obsessions as a kid and I’m still convinced it’s near-perfect. And how can something like that be improved on? That said, I am ecstatic about the news of a Ghostbusters reboot, and I think Paul Feig’s idea for an all-female cast is fantastic.

The funny thing about Ghostbusters is that it was a huge success that didn’t produce a stream of knockoffs. The only movie in the 30 years since that comes close to capturing the same blend of comedy, thrills, and characters is Men in Black. It’s hard for me to come up with any other movie (excluding parodies like Shaun of the Dead) that strikes the same tone. Ghostbusters pretty much stands alone, which is unique for such a cultural touchstone.

There has been much handwringing in Ghostbusters Fanboy Land about what a catastrophe this movie is going to be because the magic of That Cast at That Time can never be reproduced. And also, women (?!?) or something. But Paul Feig’s decision to do a hard reboot of the franchise negates those fears. He’s not aiming to reproduce that magic. He’s going to find new magic with These Comedians in These Times using what is sure to be a cast of the most powerhouse female comedians out there. You won’t be able to compare them to Bill Murray at his most charming because the franchise will be something different.

Ghostbusters is a fun idea that still feels original, but there are a few core things that I hope will remain in the reboot. The first is that it’s ultimately a character-based comedy. It’s not a parody, it’s not referential. It totally stands on its own. There is also something so deliciously New York about it. There’s a kind of grime and grittiness to it that adds so much to the texture of the movie. It’s that kind of specificity and attention to detail that makes the movie soar. It’s the cheap local commercial they make, the headlines they get in the New York Post and the old, beat up firehouse they use to set up their business. That, to me, is the flavor of Ghostbusters that can’t be lost. And Feig, as the creator of Freaks and Geeks and director of Bridesmaids, is the perfect person to create a detailed, character-based comedy. But with ghosts in it.

That said, the structure of this article actually goes against everything I’ve been saying in that the esteemed Mr. Valdez has asked me to choose actors based on equivalent parts in the original cast. [Yeah, sorry about that, everyone disobeyed anyway – Gabe] I don’t think Feig is going to do that. And it’s going to be a better movie for it. But I’ll do my best to distill what was great about the original cast.

THE PANEL

Gabriel: Joining me are actress and filmmaker S.L. Fevre, filmmaker Ben Kahn, actress Rachel Ann Taylor, filmmaker Kevan Tucker, and our creative director Vanessa Tottle. Everyone’s written here before, I believe, except for Ben, who joins us for the first time.

Ghostbusters Tig Notaro

THE LEAD (The Bill Murray)

Gabriel: The biggest question of all is, Who’s our Bill Murray? He played Dr. Peter Venkman, and was the comedic core of the original Ghostbusters. There aren’t many actors capable of his legendary deadpan – who can replace that?

Kevan: Peter Venkman worked so well because he always had a healthy dose of skepticism about the whole ordeal and also served as the romantic lead. I think Emma Stone would be a perfect choice. She’s the only person I cn think of who is deft enough to come close to the blend of charm, cynicism, and anarchy of Bill Murray. She wouldn’t be Bill Murray at all. But she’s someone you can hang a movie on. And goddamn it’s just about impossible to dislike her.

SL: I think it would be fun to have Mindy Kaling. I don’t care that she’s casting against type. I want the funniest comedienne around. She leads ensembles better than anyone else.

Vanessa: Tig Notaro. A 43 year-old lesbian with a double-mastectomy? Yeah, I get why Hollywood would never do it, and that’s why most comedies today suck. They choose for celebrity instead of ability. Notaro is the best choice to fill Murray’s shoes.

Ghostbusters Aubrey Plaza

Rachel: I love Ellen Page. I imagine her leading this group while she doubts what’s happening and whether she should even be there.

Gabriel: I couldn’t find anyone I was happy with until my brain struck on Parker Posey. The deadpan, the cynicism. Everything about her was perfect. Could she hold the audience at arm’s length? Could she be a little too aloof for mass appeal? That’s always a danger, and at the last minute I realized a better solution: Aubrey Plaza. She can communicate that same easygoing disaffection, she has her own uniquely dry delivery, and she can do aloof, but she also offers that everyman accessibility – especially with her work in smaller films like Safety Not Guaranteed and Life After Beth, in which she marries that dry delivery to a great deal of underlying heart.

[Ben was a bit inundated and couldn’t discuss at length, but he got off a list for us.]

Ben: Sandra Bullock.

Ghostbusters Jessica Williams

THE ENSEMBLE

Gabriel: How about the rest of the team, played by Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson in the original? Ackroyd served as the straight man, charmingly translating the exposition to which Murray and Ramis reacted. Ramis was the most bookish of the crew, taking scientific readings even as he issued dire supernatural warnings. Hudson was Winston Zeddmore, brought on to help the team when they become inundated with calls about the supernatural.

Kevan: (joining Emma Stone) I would love to see Amy Poehler in the Dan Ackroyd role. He ended up being more of the straight man in the original. But character-wise, he was the entrepreneur. He was the one who pushed everyone to get the company off the ground. I would love to see Poehler being the driving force of the operation. The one who cares a little too much.

The other two comedians I’d love to see in the movie are Kristen Wiig and Jessica Williams. Kristen Wiig has such a fantastic deadpan that would really round out the group. And Jessica Williams, who I admittedly haven’t seen act outside of The Daily Show, has a brilliant pushy New York energy that the movie needs.

You could go either way with them. In the original Ghostbusters, Harold Ramis was the scientist who added the modicum of scientific legitimacy that was needed in the group. And Ernie Hudson was the outsider who had no business being a Ghostbuster, but was dragged along when the shit hit the fan. With this cast, either Wiig is the nerdy scientist and Williams is the young intern who joins the group. Or you could also switch it up and have Williams be the brilliant, fast-talking scientist and Wiig be the person you never expected to be a Ghostbuster who rises to the occasion.

SL: (joining Mindy Kaling) I guess I’m not trying to fit the type. The quality I want is being able to make me laugh. Mindy Kaling has a bite, so Krysten Ritter is a perfect pairing. Sour and sweet. Ritter was amazing in Don’t Trust the B- in Apartment 23, but she showed a completely different side of herself on Breaking Bad. I think she’s the most dynamic comedienne around.

Charlize Theron was so good in Arrested Development that I wish she did more comedy. I really like the idea of her being the group’s nerd and scientifically laying down why ridiculous things are happening in a way that seems simple but that no one else understands.

For the normcore woman, Nasim Pedrad. She has so much range. She deserves so much better than the crappy sitcom she’s in.

Ghostbusters Amy Poehler

Vanessa: (joining Tig Notaro) The Ackroyd is so obvious I’ll be really pissed off if anyone chooses different: Amy Poehler. She is the beacon of frustrated idealism on television, why not do the same on film? I also like the idea of her having to cope with Tig Notaro.

For the scientist, Sarah Silverman. I want her to explain make-believe to everyone as if they’re dumbasses for not getting it, and then casually mention the end of the world so briefly it’s barely noticed.

I really remember vividly that scene where Ernie Hudson talks about the Bible and the End of Days. When I was young, that scared me. There’s no one I want bringing down the group and giving it a reality check more than Sandra Bullock. I get why that’s not what she normally plays in a comedy, but does anyone doubt she can play whatever role she wants to? I also like that she enters partway through as the outsider and isn’t the focal point.

Rachel: (joining Ellen Page) I like Emily Blunt. She can deliver exposition and give drive and focus to the group. Jessica Williams could be a great scientist. She already tells me how the world’s ending four nights a week on The Daily Show. I like Krysten Ritter for the Hudson role. Very innocent, no idea what she’s getting herself into. I like it.

Ghostbusters Krysten Ritter

Gabriel: (joining Aubrey Plaza) I switched back and forth between two women for the Ackroyd role: Emily Blunt and Kristen Wiig. Ultimately, though, I think Wiig’s the woman for it. She’s worked with Feig before, but I don’t actually put a high priority on that. It’s more that she’s often slotted into the kookiest, showiest roles, and on the rare occasion where she’s gotten to play the more down-to-earth straight man, the cleverness of her humor shows through and lends her a touching humanity.

Comedy that reveals humanity…I guess that’s what I’m going for across the board, because I think that’s what the original Ghostbusters communicates beautifully. Jessica Williams is my choice for the scientist of the group. I really didn’t expect so many others to share that view, but I think she could be the force of the group, the deliverer of dire consequences who dives head-first into doing the riskiest thing anyway.

Finally, Krysten Ritter. I’m really pleased so many people are listing her. She’s been my favorite screen (i.e. non-standup) comedian since her lead role in Don’t Trust the B- in Apartment 23, and for good reason – she’s hilarious. She can do very charming, human comedy, and she can pull off absurdism as well as any comedian I know. And what’s Ghostbusters, if not a set of comedians looking at the absurd and responding in the most deadpan way possible? Her and Wiig are, I think, the most complete comedians in my group.

Ben: Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Mindy Kaling, Olivia Munn.

Ghostbusters Michael Ealy 2

THE LOVE INTEREST (The Sigourney Weaver)

Gabriel: Sigourney Weaver’s Dana Barrett plays a major part as the love interest, later possessed by a demon named Zuul whose chief diabolical power seems to be showing off her legs. In keeping with the theme, let’s assume this is gender-switched. What hunk fills Sigourney’s shoes?

Kevan: Bradley Cooper (or Jon Hamm). You need someone who’s a bit of a heartthrob and can be a legit aspirational love interest for Emma Stone. But they also need to be game and have comedy chops.

SL: I don’t know how well-known Michael Ealy is, but I love pairing him with Mindy Kaling. He’s so easygoing and sweet. He’s accepting, but his beauty makes him feel hard to get no matter how nice he is. And he can do comedy.

Vanessa: I’m pairing off Tig Notaro, so I want someone complex and intimidating in the same way. David Duchovny. That gives me some older actors, but I don’t care – he’s still hot and he can show off his legs all day long.

Rachel: Bradley Cooper. Not even a competition.

Gabriel: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the king of cool in my book. He’s suave, he’s dapper, he’s nice, he’s old-fashioned, he can do comedy in his sleep, and it’s easy to be invested in him.

Ben: Love Interest(s) for Sandra, Melissa, and Maya – Keanu Reeves, Chris Pratt, and Jon Hamm.

Ghostbusters Natasha Leggero

THE. RICK. MORANIS.

Gabriel: Oh boy, Rick Moranis. The role of Lewis Tully was originally written for John Candy to provide Bill Murray with ineffectual competition for Dana’s (Sigourney Weaver) affections. When Moranis took the role instead, he converted Tully to a geekier stereotype, and he’s possessed halfway through Ghostbusters by a demon referred to as the Keymaster. Who takes over this role, full of facial and physical comedy?

Kevan: (competing with Emma Stone for Bradley Cooper’s affections) Paul Feig shouldn’t make anything and leave Melissa McCarthy out. And as much as I’d like to see her suit up in a Ghostbusters uniform, she might actually be better in the smaller, showier role that Rick Moranis killed in the original.

SL: (competing with Mindy Kaling for Michael Ealy’s affections) There’s no way this movie should be made without Aubrey Plaza in it. She needs an opportunity to show off and go nuts in some movie. I think she’d kill it.

Vanessa: (competing with Tig Notaro for David Duchovny’s affections) Emma Stone. Maybe that creates a Lolita situation, but why not? That’s nothing new for Duchovny (as a character). The only thing not on Stone’s resume is a dark comedic role. I like her for that.

Rachel: (competing with Ellen Page for Bradley Cooper’s affections) OK. People won’t like this. I could be adding too much narrative, but take a deep breath, everyone: Alektra Blue. The porn star. I like Ellen Page encountering someone so perfected, and who completely outclasses her in every physical way. In 80s movies, the class nerd always got the girl when the mean jock proved too inhuman. Why not invert that, especially when inhuman is something you can literally become in Ghostbusters? Blue is also a great physical comedian in many of her movies and I can’t imagine anyone pulling off Rick Moranis as aggressively.

Gabriel: (competing with Aubrey Plaza for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s affections) Man, and I thought I was being edgy with Natasha Leggero. I want someone in that cast who’s a dangerous comedian, who has a threat to her and can unbalance an entire cast with a look. Leggero wouldn’t seem it – she’s a petite brunette – but she’s my favorite acidic stage comedian, and I think that level of digging under someone’s skin could bring out Plaza that much more. Leggero has guested in nearly every counter-culture comedy there is, but most recently, she’s left a swathe of boozy, passive-aggressive destruction through Garfunkel & Oates. She can also shift from hyper-aware to oblivious at the drop of a hat, from judgmental to easygoing. She has a sociopathic charm that has just enough wink to it to make you realize it’s a put-on, but in her roles, that translates to never being sure what the hell she’s about to do.

Ben: Cameron Diaz.

Ghostbusters Martin Short

ANYONE ELSE?

Gabriel: Any other recastings you’d like to see? Secretary Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts) delivered a ton of personality in a small role. There’s the demon Gozer (Slavitza Jovan), set on ending the world. EPA suit Walter Peck (William Atherton) shows up and shuts the Ghostbusters down partway through the original. Will we see the Paul Reubens Gozer originally planned?

Kevan: I’d love to see Louis CK as the frustrated guy behind the desk or the put-upon maintenance guy they hire to keep the place running. I can’t see anyone other than Parker Posey as the slimy government agent trying to shut them down…although I heard that Gillian Anderson is vying for a role in the movie and this would be a pretty awesome place for her.

SL: I want to see Martin Short as the secretary so bad it’s not even funny. It’s a compact way for him to play off the cast without interrupting them. Mel Gibson as Gozer, because I can’t think of anyone who would be so evil and hilarious to see. Janeane Garofalo should be the EPA chief.

Vanessa: Kevin Spacey should answer phones. Tig Notaro can put him in his place if he acts out too much, and he’ll be happy for it. I want to see Amy Adams as Gozer. I can see her taking the role so many different places. Katey Segal for the EPA guy.

Ghostbusters Parker Posey

Rachel: I’ve always wanted Sam Rockwell to answer my phone. Make him the Ghostbusters’ secretary. Crispin Glover for Gozer. Who else? And Ellen Degeneres would be hilarious for the EPA suit.

Gabriel: These are all such amazing answers. Alan Arkin to answer the phones. He could get that same energy Annie Potts had, of not wanting to take any of your shit but also being super-supportive and happy for the Ghostbusters. Gozer = Crispin Glover, why are we even still talking about it? And since I bumped her from the lead for Aubrey Plaza, Parker Posey as the EPA threat, with agents Garfunkel and Oates choosing some very special moments to bumble around in the background.

Ben: Villain – Sigourney Weaver (surprise cameo). Assistant – Bill Eichner. Cameos by Meryl Streep, Will Smith, and Robert Downey Jr. as hauntees/ghosts.

Kevan: And I’m sure that Paul Feig will come up with something way more amazing than that. There are so many people who would be amazing. I mean, don’t we all kind of want to see Maria Bamford trying not to cross the streams? Or Tina Fey being slimed? The possibilities are endless on this one. I can’t wait.

OUR FINAL CASTS

Ghostbusters Emma Stone 2

Kevan’s Ghostbusters
The Lead – Emma Stone
The Entrepreneur – Amy Poehler
The Scientist – Jessica Williams
The Normcore – Kristen Wiig
The Love Interest – Bradley Cooper
The Rick Moranis – Melissa McCarthy
The Secretary – Louis CK
The EPA agent – Parker Posey

Ghostbusters Mindy Kaling

SL’s Ghostbusters
The Lead – Mindy Kaling
The Entrepreneur – Krysten Ritter
The Scientist – Charlize Theron
The Normcore – Nasim Pedrad
The Love Interest – Michael Ealy
The Rick Moranis – Aubrey Plaza
The Secretary – Martin Short
The Demon Lord – Mel Gibson
The EPA agent – Janeane Garofalo

Ghostbusters Tig Notaro 2

Vanessa’s Ghostbusters
The Lead – Tig Notaro
The Entrepreneur – Amy Poehler
The Scientist – Sarah Silverman
The Normcore – Sandra Bullock
The Love Interest – David Duchovny
The Rick Moranis – Emma Stone
The Secretary – Kevin Spacey
The Demon Lord – Amy Adams
The EPA agent – Katey Segal

Ghostbusters Ellen Page

Rachel’s Ghostbusters
The Lead – Ellen Page
The Entrepreneur – Emily Blunt
The Scientist – Jessica Williams
The Normcore – Krysten Ritter
The Love Interest – Bradley Cooper
The Rick Moranis – Alektra Blue
The Secretary – Sam Rockwell
The Demon Lord – Crispin Glover
The EPA agent – Ellen Degeneres

Ghostbusters Aubrey Plaza 2

Gabriel’s Ghostbusters
The Lead – Aubrey Plaza
The Entrepreneur – Kristen Wiig
The Scientist – Jessica Williams
The Normcore – Krysten Ritter
The Love Interest – Joseph Gordon-Levitt
The Rick Moranis – Natasha Leggero
The Secretary – Alan Arkin
The Demon Lord – Crispin Glover
The EPA agent – Parker Posey (with agents Garfunkel & Oates)

Ghostbusters Sandra Bullock 2

Ben’s Ghostbusters
The Lead – Sandra Bullock
Ensemble – Melissa McCarthy
Ensemble – Maya Rudolph
Ensemble – Mindy Kaling
Ensemble – Olivia Munn
Love Interest – Keanu Reeves
Love Interest – Chris Pratt
Love Interest – Jon Hamm
The Rick Moranis – Cameron Diaz
The Secretary – Billy Eichner
The Demon Lord – Sigourney Weaver

On DVD, etc: “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”

Walter Mitty lead

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is an inspirational tale about Walter (Ben Stiller), who spends years of his life doing little else but going to work, taking care of his mother (Shirley MacLaine), going home, and going to work the next day. Doing your job, being the best at it, and never making a mistake for 16 years straight, like Walter, used to mean you earned a house, the means to support a family, and the security of another 25 years on the job. Now, it means you scrape by month-to-month. Doing the same thing well for a long time means you haven’t advanced, which means you’re expendable in the next company downsizing.

Walter has vivid daydreams of being a mountain man, of having a superheroic throwdown with his boss, or of simply enjoying old age with someone…but life has taught Walter not to take chances, to instead keep his head down and do his work.

Walter Mitty specifically speaks to the generations coming up in this economy. My own generation, hitting 30, was supposed to have the basic building blocks established that could see us through the rest of our lives – house, family, picket fence. We’re a generation that started working at 14, after all. We haven’t stopped, and we’re still repaying our college loans. How can we hope to repay for two wars, a financial recession, increasing ecological crises, and our loans from China? We’re a generation of can-do growing into the realization of, “We may never have the means to.” We were raised to take on the world, to do anything we set our minds to, set instead to scrabble decades on end in a service-based economy. This generation’s yanked on its bootstraps so hard we have welts on our hands, yet we had better opportunities 10 years ago, fresh out of school. It’s terrifying to think we might have even worse ones in 10 more.

Walter himself has worked at Life magazine for 16 years as their manager of incoming photographs. Life is bought out and must publish its last issue before laying off most of its staff and becoming an online-only webzine. Its most famous photographer, Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) has sent in a photograph he refers to as “the quintessence of life.” It’s to be the front cover of Life‘s final issue. The only problem is that Walter never received it. With the help of his secret work crush, Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), Walter sets out on a journey that takes him to Greenland, Iceland, and Afghanistan in search of Sean and the lost photo.

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Walter Mitty is a Ben Stiller movie, and sometimes it has too much trouble forgetting it’s not Tropic Thunder. One of two of Walter’s daydreams are oddly placed satires of other genres that belong in some other, kookier, Stiller movie. It’s strongest when it’s more interested in Walter overcoming challenges and becoming the person he once imagined himself. The challenges he faces are outsized rather than personal – a shark, a volcano, handsy TSA agents. The movie glows not when he’s faced with these obstacles, but rather when he’s faced with a choice, such as whether to hop on a helicopter with a drunken pilot to chase down his mystery. This is when Walter’s daydreams aren’t just futile moments of power fantasy; they’re comforts that support him and give him the courage to press on.

Walter Mitty is a schmaltzy film. Its message is simplistic, and this is the thousandth time we’ve seen it. And yet, there’s an earnestness in how Stiller directs and acts out the story that reminds us schmaltz is often heartfelt. He has a point to make, and sometimes we need to hear something for the thousandth time for it to sink in.

Walter and Cheryl seem like ordinary people, like folks we’d enjoy drinks with after work not because they’re special but because they’re low-key and unassuming. Walter Mitty works for me because it celebrates the tenacity and the workaday attitude we’re told this country used to value. Walter Mitty doesn’t make the mistake of thinking it’s our attitude that’s changed. It simply recognizes a country that doesn’t value it anymore.

This is a movie filled with ordinary people who won’t get a sniff of their dreams, and this is the most pressing issue of every American generation coming up right now. It won’t work for everybody – it will be too cloying or uneven for some. It may remind a few more of us, however, that self-sacrifice isn’t the corporate asset it used to be. Taking those chances that bring you closer to who you once imagined you could be – that’s the difference between a good life and one in which you’re expendable.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is rated PG for language and action.