New from Al and Linda Lerner on Movies and Shakers: Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Ghostbusters: Afterlife Movies and Shakers November 19, 2021

This is not as much a sequel as a harmlessly fun resurrection that brings back the lovable and original Ghostbusters to help some newbies to the trade. It’s not the greatest, but has some comedic moments, and chestnuts of nostalgia from the original 37 years ago. 

It all starts with young mother, Callie, (Carrie Coon), her son Trevor (Finn Wolfhard – Stranger Things) and nerdy, brainy daughter, Phoebe (McKenna Grace) on the way to Grandpa Egon Spengler’s house. Their estranged Grandpa left them this creepy old farm house in Oklahoma that actually looks haunted. 

It takes a long time for Jason Reitman, (son of Ivan who directed the original and was on this set, too) to introduce the new characters and why they’re in Oklahoma before the old iconic ones come into play. And there are throwbacks to the original throughout the film. 

Trevor and Phoebe go to a new school and science teacher Gary Grooverson (Paul Rudd- just off winning the title of Sexiest Man Alive 2021) 

is the cool, nerdy teacher there for the kids. Phoebe befriends a cute kid named Podcast (Logan Kim).  Phoebe is a curious sort and starts exploring Grandpa’s domain, bringing Trevor in on the fun. They find all kinds of curious equipment, even ECTO 1, that decked out ghost trapping car that even has a gunner’s seat. They even find an unkillable twinkie left in the glove compartment of the old souped up station wagon. 

Rudd is funny as the science guy who knows just enough to recognize when something is very strange. Of course, he’s interested in the kids’ Mom. Coon is very matter-of-fact sexy trying not to get involved with her father, Egon’s world. But the kids find it fascinating and go after more. 

Reitman does well putting in cameos of the original cast, including Bill Murray as Vankman, who fought making a sequel to the original for years. Ernie Hudson is back, lookin’ good with this dulcid tones as Winston Zeddemore. Dan Aykroyd is still “Ray,” Dr Raymond Stantz, and Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver are present, too. J.K. Simmons is a hoot as the leader of the Cult of Gore who didn’t have much of a presence before, but appears now. Tracy Letts is Jack, that guy running the local grocery, and you may recognize the voice of Josh Gad as the haunting object being chased, Muncher. 

As the film progresses, the ghosts make their energy and appearance known. The old clues come back, like the stacking of books which apparitions like to do. Phoebe fills the bill well as heir to the ghost busting legacy. She finds the old uniforms her Grandfather saved, even pulling a Nestle’s crunch bar out of a pocket that Vankman gave him decades ago. Out comes Ghostbuster equipment, ghost traps, the iconic Echo 1 car, ray guns and more. The special effects don’t provide much action until the last half of the film. 

Jason Reitman joined with Gil Kenan and original scriptwriter Dan Aykroyd to create this parallel story to the original that relies more on their actors rather than the whiz-bang special effects. It’s a good decision since they put some heart into the plot along with the laughs. Rudd has some funny lines throughout trying to help the kids and as an excuse to gain quality time around their mother. The characters made of ectoplasm look just like they did in the original, and not much has changed in the method to capture them. 

The marshmallows are back, but now there are tons of tiny ones crawling out of bags on the grocery store shelf. They look like that Sta-Puff giant one lumbering in the original, but they’re so cute until Rudd starts poking them. He gets plenty of blowback. 

Reitman and the original Ghostbusters use this film to honor the memory and legacy of the late Harold Ramis who co-wrote the original. His presence is prominently felt here, especially in the last act. This film is as much a tribute to him as to the film. Stay till the very end for two post credit scenes.

This film is a fun throwback to the popular original staying true to their saving the world with attitude vibe.Reitman has stayed true to the recipe that made this such an iconic 80’s comedy. The update slips on as nicely as the old Ghostbusters jumpsuits. There’s not much new here, but Reitman and the cast, old and new, provide warm, fuzzy, ghost-like nostalgia with some laughs along the way. And when you hear that bouncy theme song, you may want to shout, “Who you gonna call!”

Sony Pictures     2 hours and 4 minutes       PG-13

The post Ghostbusters: Afterlife first appeared on Movies and Shakers.

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