Synopsis: When a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.
Stars: Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Sigourney Weaver, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts
Director: Jason Reitman
Running Length: 124 minutes
Trailer Review: Here
TMMM Score: (9/10)
Review: This is a public service announcement to all major Hollywood studios (and any independent ones with franchise opportunities) that are tossing around ideas of rebooting or relaunching their most valuable properties. There are a million ways you can go wrong in resurrecting what has made you a boatload of cash in the past and will continue to bring in money moving forward as you churn out repackaged Blu-rays, coffee mugs, and ugly sweaters. Don’t go cheap, instead why not think big, shoot for the moon, great creative, spend the cash, take the time. Fans will wait for the product if the product is quality. It’s late as I’m writing this and reading over these last sentences, I’m not sure if I’m writing a review for Ghostbusters: Afterlife or giving a pep talk to an ad agency that just lost a big client. No, I’m definitely writing a review for this long in the works and much called for sequel, which was delayed over a year due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
I feel as if I need to give this announcement to Tinsel Town (since all the big execs are reading this, naturally) because Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a prime example of why waiting to get the right group of people together and aiming for perfect instead of “acceptable” is how the best sequels are made. I can’t even begin to describe how pleasing this film is and not just on the low-bar scale of fan service. Fan service is often the easiest box to to check of all so critics that ding a film for “paying fan service” aren’t really giving an adequate critique of the film. No, this is a movie that not only understands its audience but cares about them as well. It knows how long they’ve waited, suspects they may be bringing their own children to the movie, and provides an entertainment package that work fantastically for the generation that grew up with one set of Ghostbusters while paving the way for the next generation to get their own heaping dose of kicks from the festivities.
Does it help having some knowledge of the first two movies (the original in 1984 and the divisive sequel in 1989 being the reference points, the female-led reboot in 2016 isn’t acknowledged as far as I could tell) going in? Sorta, but only because you’ll pick up more of the small tips of the proton packs director Jason Reitman (son of original director Ivan) makes to what his dad crafted before. It’s more or less a continuation from the second film which picks up today in a small town in Oklahoma where Egon Spengler retreated to after the Ghostbusters disbanded, abandoning his young daughter in the process. Living life as a recluse before recently dying (original star Harold Ramis passed away in 2014), his now grown daughter (Carrie Coon, Gone Girl) is a single mom to Phoebe (McKenna Grace, I, Tonya) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard, The Goldfinch) and needs a place to stay after being evicted. Her dad’s ramshackle house in the middle of nowhere will have to do. Working through the hard feelings she has will have to wait a bit.
Ah, but Spengler picked this town and this house for a reason, as we’ll come to see. First, we’ll learn a bit more about the town from Phoebe’s summer school science teacher Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd, This is 40) and Podcast (Logan Kim, a star in the making) her lab partner and, soon, her partner in crime. Seems the town is known for its strange earthquakes even though it isn’t anywhere near a fault line or any other natural developments which would normally cause them. Then there’s the abandoned mine which has seemed to have some activity lately. Oh, and who can forget all the fun discoveries Phoebe finds around the house when the inquisitive girl who has trouble fitting in starts to poke around with a ghostly helping hand.
Uh-oh…I think I’ll stop there because I wouldn’t want to get ahead of myself or let you in on what Reitman and screenwriter Gil Kenan have cooked up for the remainder of the film’s exciting second half. The thrills and adventure only rises as the stakes grow, resulting in a movie-going experience that works as a sort of fountain-of-youth-filmgoing. I went in as an adult but left feeling fifteen years younger. It’s that fun of a watch and while it does have the allure of a summer blockbuster, its spooky tone fits right into its late fall/Thanksgiving release slate.
Led by a solid cast of young talent and given great support by its adult cast who ace the fast-talking dialogue in Reitman/Kenan’s finely tuned script, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the sequel fans have been waiting (dreaming?) for. This isn’t a quickie get rich quick project or a recycled brain-dead treatment. Reitman (Labor Day) grew up on the sets of these films so it’s no surprise he has spoken of how personal these films are to him. It shows in nearly every frame on screen and continues to the very end of the movie which has one of the longer post-credit scenes I’ve seen in a while. The movie won’t be complete if you don’t stay until that absolute final credit is through. I suspect by the time the movie is over, you won’t need any prodding to stay through the credits.