Ah Ghostbusters...I don’t think there is a comedic/horror franchise that has developed such an ardent and devoted following. This is especially interesting as there has only been 1 universally well-received film in the franchise, the original 1984 film directed by Ivan Reitman.
I enjoy that film well enough but have never seen it as some kind of comedic masterpiece like others do. To compare it to the likes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail is insane but to each their own I suppose.
We of course got the 2016 reboot with an all-female cast that made the internet implode with toxicity and now we have a new iteration Ghostbusters: Afterlife. And unfortunately a critic friend of mine had a supposed fan call him on his personal berating him for his negative review of this film, so the toxicity continues amongst extreme members of the fandom. Sigh…
But what do I think of this film? I suppose that’s why you are all reading this review! Honestly I’m of 2 minds about it. I enjoyed watching it and can tell Jason Reitman took crafting a love letter to his father very seriously. On the other hand, is it still a nostalgia porn cash grab by a studio desperate to keep an IP alive? Yes, yes it is….
In the end enjoying Ghostbusters: Afterlife will lean entirely on whether you can stomach the nostalgia or not. If you find that patronizing and annoying you will hate it. If you can smile at most of it than there’s lots to like here.
One of the biggest differences in this entry is it is solidly made for children rather than adults like the original. McKenna Grace leads the cast as a quirky girl named Phoebe who is moved to the middle of nowhere by her Mother (Carrie Coon) to take care of her Grandfather’s dirt farm after his passing. Grace is very likable and endearing and I think boys and girls alike will really enjoy her performance.
Paul Rudd plays Phoebe’s teacher and fellow seismology nerd who begins dating Coon’s character. Then we have Finn Wolfhard as Phoebe’s brother Trevor. The action is well done throughout and there is a plucky feel to the adventure that will remind 80s kids more of Goonies than Ghostbusters tbh.
Where the nostalgia comes in is in a series of cameos and winks at the original that did make me cringe and weren’t really needed for the story but then I’m not a die-hard fan of the franchise so maybe they were more appreciated by the audience it was made for? You’ll have to let me know. The Annie Potts cameo was especially lame. Talk about giving someone nothing to do…
The score and special effects have an 80s Amblin-esque quality to them that I found charming and engaging. Others may mileage may vary on it. There’s also a moment at the end which you could feel Reitman’s love for his Dad literally on screen and it got to me. It was as raw and real as you can expect in a movie like this.
I’m not going to tell you Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a classic and people who hate it are wrong. I get it. Still for me it was a sweet enough love letter by the director to his Dad and an engaging enough adventure for kids to recommend. I’d say if that sounds appealing to you give it a try.
6 out of 10