I’ll be honest and admit that I wasn’t looking forward to another entry in the Ghostbusters franchise after the 2016 film I won’t go into for reasons. Though when I kept seeing the trailers for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a little spark of hope was lit that made me want to give it a chance. Now that it’s here, I can honestly say it’s not a perfect follow up to the original films, but it has more than enough fun and amazing young talent to make busting feel good again.
Taking place 30-some years after the first two movies, we enter the life of a middle-age mother named Callie (Carrie Coon) and her two kids Trevor (Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things fame) the 15 year-old that’s looking for love and adventure, and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) the 12 year-old who is socially awkward but very intelligent.
They’re soon forced to move into an old, run down farm house in the middle of nowhere that her estranged father left her after she’s unable to pay the bills at her current place. It doesn’t take long to learn that her dad is Egon Spengler, former Ghostbusting hero (originally played by the late and great Harold Ramis who also co-wrote the classic films) and that his place is littered with classic gear for busting and trapping ghosts. We also learn that he was trying to stop an apocalyptic event that involves some pretty powerful ghosts with ties to the original movie.
Eventually the kids find some of the old gear and slowly learn about the town they’re in, its ghostly secrets, and how it ties into this event thanks mainly in part to a school teacher named Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd who nails the comedy) who is studying the freaky earthquakes there, a young lady local Trevor is trying to be with named Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), and a kid who quickly becomes Phoebe’s best friend named Podcast (Logan Kim who steals scenes with comedic charm) who goes by that name because (you guessed it) he makes podcasts.
Without giving anything away, it falls upon these unlikely characters to pick up where the original Ghostbusters left off and stop this terrible ghostly event from taking place, if they can learn how to use a proton pack, drive the Ecto-1, and toss the famous ghost traps to bust some evil spirits and save the world.
I really had a good time with this film as I love how it sprinkles in just enough nostalgia to make old school fans such as myself feel good, but not so much as to get too sappy. A perfect example is how the film focuses more on the kids and the adventures they get into instead of copying the old movies. If anything, this film comes off more like an homage to classic Steven Spielberg films such as The Goonies, and I love how both the kid and adult actors have perfect chemistry and play off each other really well as though everyday on set was a fun day.
I’m also glad that the director and co-writer is Jason Reitman, son of Ivan Reitman who directed the original films, and how he applied what he saw and learned from his dad making those and brought it over to this movie. As I mentioned earlier, not everything is perfect as there’s some bits that could’ve been better or reworked, such as some of the corny humor, the predictability that begins to show early, and even some of the emotional nostalgia they reach for near the conclusion.
But in the end, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a fun, welcomed follow up to the 80s classics that we should’ve got back in 2016. It has a great cast with even better chemistry, some nostalgia in the right places, and some pretty cool surprises I dare not spoil. It’s basically everything you could want from a fun-filled family movie, and paves the way to make busting ghosts awesome again.