Who you gonna call? Hopefully, your friends to go watch this movie, because “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is a surprisingly enjoyable sequel to the first two “Ghostbusters” films from the 1980s.
“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” follows a family of two kids and their mother when they move to their grandfather’s old dirt farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere. This town, however, has an unexpected history from a mining incident that leads the two kids and their friends to want to discover what is really going on.
Child actors can often be a weakness in films, but Finn Wolfhard and Mckenna Grace do a great job as somewhat relatable and lovable kids. They definitely do not talk like how kids would actually would in real life, but they provide strong entertainment value in their dialogue. Grace’s character, for example, makes awful dad jokes throughout the movie that came off as quite endearing. The humor in general, though, can be hit-or-miss. One character’s name is Podcast because he has a podcast, which is one of the most baffling writing choices seen in a film in an extremely long time. This kid’s humor radiates terrible Disney Channel sitcom vibes that lead to various cringe-inducing moments. Thankfully, other characters, like Paul Rudd’s charming but also goofy character Gary Grooberson, boost the humor.
Unfortunately, some characters do not get enough time to shine, such as Rudd’s character, who ultimately comes off as flat. While Rudd’s performance is strong, the character does not do him justice. The mother, played by Carrie Coon, also feels slighted as a character despite a high-quality performance. They play their roles in the story and not much else. Additionally, the rare emotional moments the movie offers never land, either partly due to this character writing problem or the way the character dynamics are portrayed in general.
One of the best parts of the movie is the way it brings the audience back into the world of “Ghostbusters.” The film takes its time to show the characters slowly discovering the history of the town and the existence of the Ghostbusters. The way the original films are incorporated into this installment never felt forced. Director Jason Reitman, son of Ivan Reitman, knows how to blend in the new and old for something refreshing. Inserting a younger perspective as well as a family aspect to the “Ghostbusters” world is a smart choice too.
The most recent “Ghostbusters” movie before this one was “Ghostbusters” (2016), which was an intriguing version featuring multiple talented comedians such as Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig. That film’s downfall, however, was the lack of blockbuster expertise from the director, Paul Feig. Feig, mainly working in the world of comedy with movies like “Bridesmaids” and “Spy,” butchered the final act of the movie with terrible special effects and less-than-thrilling action. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” avoids these issues by using a mix of practical and special effects in a small-scale third act. The effects play off perfectly as just campy enough to pay respects to the original movies without overdoing it.
“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” blends the fan service into a new story featuring likable main characters and an entertaining plot, too. Are there drawbacks? Of course. Some characters are thinly written, the humor does not always work and the emotional investment is low. Overall, however, the movie feels like fans, and not a bunch of corporate suits, wrote it. There is heart and passion put into this project. That alone is worth the price of admission and what every blockbuster should strive for nowadays.