Strap on your proton pack and hop in the Echo 1, because the Ghostbusters are back. A true love letter to the franchise, Jason Reitman follows in his fathers footsteps and serves up a worthy sequel.
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.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife, was written and directed by Jason Reitman, the son of Ivan Reitman, the original director of the classic 1984 Ghostbusters. Some would say this is the passing of the torch, that Jason, who literally grew up on the sets of the first two Ghostbusters movies, was always destined to make a Ghostbusters movie himself. This movie is clearly a love letter to not only his father and everything he built within the Ghostbusters universe, but his childhood as well. Much like the directing duties being passed down a generation, so is the job of busting and capturing ghosts. We see the grandchildren of the legend Egon Spengler learning about their family history and their true destiny in life to finish what their grandfather started all those years ago.
For some, Ghostbusters is their childhood, something they grew up on, a warm place that serves as a reminder for when things were simpler. People much like myself have been waiting a very long time for a continuation of this beloved franchise, and I think this served as a great launching pad. It’s something that can gravitate towards the veteran fans and something that will suck in a ton of new ones.
The story is simple, things have changed, there hasn’t been a ghost sighting for nearly 30 years and the Ghostbusters are no more. It doesn’t mean that everything is quite so simple and when Egon casts himself into solitude in the remote and small town of Summerville, and it leaves his friends and family wondering why. Enter his daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) and her two kids Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard). With nothing of their own, they assume that Egon might have left them something, at first glance it feels like he left nothing, until Phoebe digs a little deeper and starts to unravel the mystery of Summerville and who her grandfather really was. Nothing to his name except his old farmhouse, the family decides to make the most out of this situation and give Summerville a chance. Callie never truly understood why her father left her and she believes that he’s nothing more than an asshole. Even his old friends are stumped at his behaviour and haven’t spoken to him in a long time.
McKenna Grace steals the entire movie. The quirky and awkward kid, who is a spitting image of Egon, who would have made Harold Ramis very proud. She’s funny, a bad ass and carries the movie on her back. She’s never had any friends, so when she meets Podcast (Logan Kim) a curious kid who loves conspiracy theories and all things ghosts and supernatural, they become instant BFFS. She also befriends her summer school teacher Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd). It’s Mr. Grooberson who leads Phoebe down the eventual Ghostbusters rabbit hole when she brings in a ghost-trap she found at her grandfathers home to school. That’s when all hell breaks loose and it’s up to Finn, Podcast, Phoebe and Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), Finn’s pseudo girlfriend to jumpsuit up and take down some ghosts.
This is a small movie, it feels warm and homie. No giant action set pieces or massive explosions, this is a kick-start for something bigger to come. There are some really fun moments, and certain sounds, like a proton pack getting switched on will immediately bring a smile to your face. This movie is about family, finding yourself and understanding that sometimes people have to do things without any explanation at all. If you’re a fan of the franchise I honestly thing you will enjoy this movie, that obviously leans on nostalgia in a big way, but what did you expect? I think that’s what makes it so special, and feel so familiar, whether it’s the same score as the original, certain sounds, or just the familiarity of the entire franchise. This isn’t trying to be something it’s not, or something new. This is a direct sequel that wants to honour its predecessor and built on the beautiful foundation that was built so many years ago.
It can feel like a rehashing of the first Ghostbusters, but I think that’s the point. I’m happy this is the route they decided to take, and happy that they give our new characters a lot of time to shine. Where they go from here is up in the air, it will depend on box-office numbers I think, but it certainly sets itself up for another movie, that promises to be bigger than ever. Let’s just say, the movie ends with the Ghostbusters back in business.
It takes a while to get going, they don’t bust their first ghost until almost the hour mark of the movie, but we need time to understand what’s going on and actually the very first scene of the movie is so well done and you immediately get a little emotional. You know what’s coming, but you still can’t help but get up and cheer for when it does. It’s something I’ve waited my whole adult life to see and I’m so thankful that it did. The final act of the movie is a ton of fun, some jokes don’t land, but this movie wasn’t going to be perfect, it just needed to make me feel a certain way and mission accomplished. How they handled everything with Harold Ramis was beautiful and I’ll be disappointed if this franchise doesn’t continue going forward. They really unlocked something with McKenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard, they make awesome Ghostbusters and it’s time to strap a proton pack to Paul Rudd for the sequel.
This is everything I wanted this movie to be, so to me, it’s perfect.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife = 88/100