The first film I ever saw in the theater was Ghostbusters (1984). I was two years old, and after the movie, my mom and dad would say “Who you gonna call,” I would excitedly recite back“Ghostbusters!” I typed this review moments after seeing Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) wearing Stay Puft socks and a Ghostbusters shirt, complete with a matching mask. So, full disclosure – I am definitely a little biased about this film property. That kind of fandom will likely push a person to one extreme or the other -so, to get this out of the way…I love this movie!
Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) moves into her recently deceased grandfather’s dirt farm with her mother (Carrie Coon) and brother (Finn Wolfhard) in a rural town in Oklahoma. Upon arrival, it’s clear that the family knew very little about grandpa, but Phoebe soon discovers that he was a Ghostbuster. It seems this town is more than it appears, and Phoebe has her work cut out for her.
Grace has proven time and time again that she is an acting force to be reckoned with. She brings so much to this film and the legacy it represents. It is easy to love Phoebe and see her love of learning and disconnection from people as a slight surrogate to Egon from the original films. Sure, genetics may not dictate personality – but this is a movie where ghosts shall be busted, so I’m not going to nitpick things like this. Her character is charming, and a solid protagonist to root for.
Ghostbusters was a comedy with some scary moments in it. This film captures much of that. It’s fun, and a lot of the design is quite creepy. However, this film leans a little into the comedy and is geared towards being family-friendly. Phoebe’s first…and only…friend is named Podcast (Logan Kim), and he may irritate you at first. You may even be tempted to roll your eyes at the ludicrous name – and yes he is a podcaster – but if you give the kid a chance, he’ll grow on you.
Wolfhard is fine, but his character doesn’t fully register in any real way until much later in the film. Instead, Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd) is the piece that stands out. Much like my fandom of the property, Rudd is an actor who works for me all of the time. He is one of my favorites, and he does such a terrific job bringing the Rudd charm and humor to this film.
Anytime you make a film sequel off of an old property, there are going to be elements of nostalgia present. Fortunately, Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan manage to give us a compelling story that ties into the original without leaning too heavily on the pieces from it. Yes, these stories cross streams – but the major tie-ins feel more logical than a simple cash-grab may have.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife was every ounce of joy that I had hoped it would be. Back in 2018, I visited New York for the first time and stopped to see the Ghostbuster’s firehouse. Not long after that, I went to see Tully (2018) with Jason Reitman doing a Q&A. I like to think that this movie is some byproduct of that screening. If not, I’m just going to pretend that it is, and state that this movie falls into the Must See area for me.