This weekend, it was announced by Variety that Paul Feig, celebrated director of Bridesmaids, is in talks to make a female-centric Ghostbusters reboot. While I consider Feig untested (one hit does not a great director make), I can almost assuredly say that Ghostbusters as a female vehicle sounds far more appealing to me than a third Ghostbusters chapter made in spite of a dead Harold Ramis, a reluctant Bill Murray, an unhinged Dan Akroyd, and an absent Rick Moranis (who clearly has too much going on right now, judging by what he told Empire magazine a year ago).
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the gender disproportion in strong leading roles, and rightfully so. Right now, we are at the height of comic adaptation popularity and movie fans literally can’t buy a movie with a female superhero in the lead. It’s been 28 years since we saw Ripley strap on the exosuit and do battle, and, if pressed, I can’t think of one subsequent kickass heroine comparable to Sigourney Weaver in Aliens.
So, given that the American film industry is already rebooting nearly every foreign film, classic film, cult classic film, and terrible film, most frequently to disastrous results, I am in full support of attempting to correct two problematic trends at once. Not only do I wholly back the idea of a female ghostbuster troupe, I’d like to present, in earnest, five other classic movies we should reboot with women in the starring role.
Want to see an arena where the gap between male and female performance is immeasurable? Try Mixed Martial Arts, a competitive field that embraces its female participants, who go at each other with brutality and skill equal to their male counterparts. Warrior, Gavin O’Connor’s 2011 cage fighting drama about two underdog siblings entering the same ten million dollar fighting tournament, hit all the right notes to contest Moneyball‘s status as the best sports film of the current decade, mainly because of its poignant familial drama. So it stands to note that nothing would be lost in switching out its male competitors for females. Sisters are more loyal and fight harder than brothers (generalizations, sure, but I doubt many surveyed siblings would refute). And this year has provided a perfectly suited pair for the roles: Sabotage‘s Mirielle Enos and Hercules‘s Ingrid Bolsø Berdal both, in supporting roles, provided their movies with heightened intensity and distinctly feminine toughness, the sort of contributions that would do well pushed to the forefront of the narrative and pitted against one another in a cage.
12 Angry Men (12 Angry Women)
Have you ever tried to convince a woman that her first impression is wrong? Imagine trying that with twelve women at once. Swap Henry Fonda’s legendary performance as Juror #8 with Sandra Bullock’s Oscar-winning, impassioned turn as Leigh Anne Tuohy in 2008’s awkward The Blind Side and you’ll raise a few eyebrows in interest. Swap out every juror for an actress of comparable talent (think Kathy Bates, Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Amy Adams all sitting at one table) and now you’ve got an epic. There’s not even a plothole to address here; it’s common knowledge (if only within courtroom film mythology) that prosecutors seek women jurors because of their unrelenting and unmerciful approach to justice. But adherence to realism may prove problematic. Forget the option of a hung jury. The attempt to sway this many women one-at-a-time would result in a narrative longer than the combination of the Lord of the Rings films and, by the end, the jurors would be in that room together so long that all twelve menstrual cycles would sync up.
Liam Neeson does a passable job in the first installment of the now exhausted Taken franchise, but backwoods biology doesn’t teach about the dangers of father bears. Mama bears, tiger moms– that’s the ticket. It’s the maternal instinct that is renowned as the most ferocious force in the animal kingdom. So, all of the tactical skill in killing that makes Taken somewhat fun to watch in the first place would only be intensified if that training had been provided to a mother instead of a father. Zoe Saldana has more than proven her effectiveness as an ass-kicking super-force in the flawed Colombiana and as a supporting tough girl in Guardians of the Galaxy. There seems to be no end in sight for the Taken sequels and ripoffs, so if we’re really that in love with the formula, lets let momma have her chance.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (The Good, The Bad, and The Great Personality)
No genre has excluded women from hero positions as unabashedly as the Hollywood Western. I’m sure the American West in that era was a brutal place for a woman, but given that the most immediate example I can come up with for prominent female characters in Classic Westerns are the victimized prostitutes in Unforgiven, maybe filmmakers could give it a little more effort. So I suggest we reboot Sergio Leone’s infamous trilogy with a Woman with No Name. Up-and-comer Shailene Woodley, an actress I personally hold in high esteem who deserves every opportunity to elevate and showcase herself, would be a perfect pioneer into the genre. The eccentric Woodley has already drawn attention to herself for claims that she carries her possessions with her everywhere she goes and makes her own toiletries, so her free-spirited, new-hippy nature might lend to a seamless fit as a nameless drifter.
Silence of the Lambs
It’s a tough sell. The Oscar-winning Silence of the Lambs is as celebrated and revered a film as any in history. And Hopkins’ performance as cannibalistic psychological genius Hannibal Lecter stands with the best performances of all time. So, how could it be improved? Simple answer: Dame Helen Mirren. You feel those chills? Hannibal just got a whole lot scarier. But I’m not finished. Remember the true villain of the film? Buffalo Bill? Remember the weird mirror talk, and the dance, and the prisoner in the pit? Well, imagine if Jennifer Lawrence’s character in Silver Linings Playbook ended up a few big steps crazier. Holy. Shit. Put the lotion in the basket, indeed.
Got any ideas of your own for rebooting movies with strong female roles? Slip them into our comment section and let’s make this post a petition that we can send when Hillary becomes President.