“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is a fun reboot that ushers a new generation into the classic franchise. The 2021 film serves as the next chapter in a series that started in 1984. The original “Ghostbusters” lands safely in my Top Films List. While thoroughly enjoyable for all, “Afterlife” is geared to work on a slightly younger audience.
The film was written and directed by Jason Reitman; himself the son of Ivan Reitman who helmed the original. Reitman does a successful job of blending in callbacks, Easter eggs, and homages to the old film. The score is a great mix of old and new bits. The special effects are updated and excellent, never going overboard as modern tech is often tempted to do.
Mckenna Grace stars as Phoebe Spengler, a nerdy twelve year old with a passion for science. Her family consists of older brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and wine drinking mom Callie (Carrie Coon). Phoebe is the estranged granddaughter of Harold Remis’ iconic character, Egon. The cast is topped off with Paul Rudd as Gary Grooberson, Phoebe’s science teacher and Callie’s potential love interest. Supporting roles are handled by Logan Kim and Celeste O’Connor.
Unlike the original story, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” features kids as the primary cast. None of which were alive when the original came out 37 years ago. Mackenna Grace leads the gang with wit and humor. She looks right at home firing a proton pack at a monstrous ghost. Finn Wolfhard is everywhere these days. The shaggy haired star of “Stranger Things” has been on the big screen in “IT” and “The Turning” among others. Wolfhard and Grace have a great chemistry together. Likewise, the rapport Rudd and Coon have with the kids and each other is fun. It will be a treat if they reprise the roles for the inevitable sequels.
Acting and effects are great. My complaints come from the story itself which is fairly weak. The original fleshed out the characters and the direness of the situation. We knew who Peter, Ray, Egon, and Winston were. Here, the characters are fairly quick to accept the ghosts, the tools (and talent) needed to defeat them. That could be a rub on a film that runs slightly over two hours.
I was instantly reminded of “The Force Awakens.” The plot rehashes the concepts and characters from the original while adding in a few new elements. The final act is virtually identical to the older movie. It won’t be a shock when an array of new toys are released. And while I won’t spoil anything, watch out for some great cameos, and stay through the entirety of the closing credits.
Is “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” as iconic as the original? Not even close. But it is a fun flick that warrants a viewing. Hopefully it will get the younger generation to revisit the classic. Diehard fans of the series will appreciate the nostalgia. Newcomers will laugh and love the modern cast.