Mark Kennedy | Associated Press
Ghostbusters: The Afterlife – a direct cinematic sequel to the 1984 classic – is of course haunted. But not in a good way.
Director / co-writer Jason Reitman’s sequel builds so heavily on his dad’s original that it sometimes seems like a mega hit checklist, from a duped Cadillac Ecto-1 to a Stay-Puft marshmallow, performances by surviving Ghostbusters, and even the same theme song by Ray Parker. – junior.
He took Ivan Reitman’s original too seriously – which had the feel of an anarchist parody of Saturday Night Live, taken as far as it could possibly go. He fetishizes ghost-catching equipment and limps until the original cast arrives – one cynically resurrected – to evoke some emotion he doesn’t deserve.
The film takes place several decades after the events of Ghostbusters, where the city is bargained for the village and any other sequels are ignored. The focus is on his single mother Callie (Carrie Coon walking on water) and her two children, the very, very young son Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and her precocious daughter Phoebe (McKenna Grace, also on the appropriately titled soundtrack “House with the ghosts”).
Following the death of Callie’s estranged father, the family travels to his ramshackle farm in Summerville, Oklahoma, where the children realize their grandfather was the famous ghost hunter Egon Spengler (the late Harold Ramis) who abandoned his mom for unknown reasons and received no forgiveness. … “Take a little advice,” the mother tells the children, “don’t chase ghosts.”
Creepy things happen within the first hour, and it’s only fitting that Stranger Things Wolfhard is here, mixing the show’s vibe with the early Steven Spielberg feel of a suburban film about stressful parents and their freaky kids. (Family motto: “Don’t be yourself!”). Chess pieces move on their own, often using flashlights and playing with proton packets.
The amount of acting talent wasted in this film is astounding, from a slug-style creature named Muncher “voiced” by Josh Gad (bravo, swallowing noise!), And Logan Kim playing a very odd podcaster, to the great actors J.K. Simmons and Tracy Letts. (The raccoon’s real husband, playwright and acting husband). Paul Rudd suggests Mom’s love interest as a diligent teacher, but Sexiest Man of 2021 can’t spark comedic sparks with so much slime.
Ghostbusters: The Afterlife twists like a special after-school night – kids, did you know science can be cool? – until the inevitable happens: original stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson arrive in the last 10 minutes to save the day (curiously, OGs Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver also appear, but aside). And then comes the tipping point: Ramis heroically reappears thanks to supernatural work on the computer, a moment that can seem either incredibly rude or extremely rude.
“What the hell is going on?” one character asks and she’s right. Poorly edited film music queues are often meant to signal to the viewer how they should be feeling. Poorly explained, the plot is based on what viewers already know about the first film and especially about the same villains – Goser, The Gatekeeper and Keys. Come on, at least update the villains.
Once the audience realizes that this is just a collection of greatest hits, they can calm down and expect lines like “Are you god?” and “Who will you call?” After all, this is not a film that can be viewed in isolation. It’s more like half of the movie, standing in the shadow of its parent. This movie is made to sell us more lunchboxes.
Ghostbusters: Life After Death
1 star out of 4
Rating: PG-13 (for supernatural action and some suggestive)
Duration: 124 minutes