Reel Reviews | Ghostbusters: Afterlife

by Charles Kirkland Jr.

A single mother and her two children discover their connection to an old paranormal investigation group and the coming apocalypse in Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

When Callie (Carrie Coon) receives notification that her father had died, she packs up her children to go and hopefully recover some sort of inheritance that will help her save her apartment from which they are about to be evicted.  When they arrive in Summerville, a strange rural Midwestern town that has frequent unexplained earthquakes, they find out that Callie’s father, known to the city as the “Dirt Farmer,” was a weird, old man who bought strange things and socialized with absolutely no one.  Unfortunately, the Dirt Farmer has left nothing behind but a dilapidated home, a strange lab, and an old hearse.  Since the family now has no apartment to return to, Callie decides to take up residence in Summerville in their estranged father’s home. Meanwhile, Callie’s unusual and intelligent daughter, Phoebe (McKenna Grace) begins to investigate the legacy that her grandfather left behind.

Written by Gil Kenan, Jason Reitman, and Dan Aykroyd based upon the 1984 film by Ivan Reitman, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a sequel to the Ghostbusters movies of the 1980s.  It stars Coon and Grace along with Finn Wolfhard, Logan Kim, Celeste O’Connor, Paul Rudd, Annie Potts, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver.  The film is directed by Jason Reitman, the son of director Ivan who brought Ghostbusters to life in 1984. 

Reitman does a good job of capturing the comedy/horror vibe of the original movies with his work in this film.  There is a decent amount of suspense to power the movie but the script is lacking.  There are too many times when the illogical equipment of the Ghostbusters seem to be second nature to the children, Phoebe and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) who have no idea who the Ghostbusters were.  Even with a little supernatural assistance, there is no explanation for how Phoebe, marvelously portrayed by Grace, should understand how to operate a proton pack, ghost trap, or a gunner seat in the Ghostbuster mobile.  Also, how is fifteen-year-old, recently departed from the city, Trevor able to repair the Ghostbusters hearse and then drive it like Dominic Toretto through the streets of Summerville?  

The best thing about this movie is the nostalgia that it brings back.  Coon, Grace, and Wolfhard make great additions to the Ghostbusters’ legend but it is the return of Murray, Aykroyd, Hudson, Potts, Weaver, and even Ramis that are the most fun to see.  The arrival of the Ghostbusters in the film is completely telegraphed, unsurprising, and a bit anti-climatic.   Almost all the actors from the original movie return to this film except for Rick Moranis who is replaced as the Keymaster by the addition of the People’s Sexiest Man, Paul Rudd. (If you don’t understand that last sentence, watch the original.)  Beware, the movie has a couple of Marvel-style end credit scenes, the last of which is suspiciously important.  Don’t miss it.

Rated PG-13 for supernatural action and some suggestive references, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a cute family film that is a perfect homage to the Ghostbusters of old.   It doesn’t make a lot of sense but it is a comedy/horror/drama movie about catching ghosts.  How seriously should you take it?

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is in theaters. 

Grade:  C