Made for fans by fans, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is a nostalgia-fueled lovefest for everything ghosts and the busting thereof.
Directed by Jason Reitman, the son of original “Ghostbusters” director Ivan Reitman, this new revival is as much a love letter to a franchise as possibly any movie ever made. A lot of “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” does manage to stand on its own with entertaining characters and a shared love of ghostbusting gizmos, but sometimes it goes a bit too far in calling back to the original movie.
“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is playing in theaters locally and is not yet available for streaming.
A single mother and her two children move out to the middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma because her estranged father has passed away and left her an old, abandoned farmhouse. The kids soon learn that their mysterious grandfather was Egon Spengler, one of the original Ghostbusters, and this abandoned farmhouse is the key to saving the world from a ghostly invasion.
I love the original “Ghostbusters” movie as much as the next person. But what started as an ‘80s comedy about schlubby guys working as ghost exterminators has turned into a worldwide phenomenon of rabid fans. And “Afterlife” was largely made for those fans. It’s a celebration of all things Ghostbusters, from the iconic car and proton packs, to even smaller, subtler callbacks and references.
“Afterlife” wears its adoration of the franchise on its sleeve and it’s not ashamed in the least. So your enjoyment of the film may depend on how much you, also, love and adore the Ghostbusters franchise.
Most of “Afterlife” does stand on its own, at least the first two-thirds or so of the movie. The new characters, especially the granddaughter, played by Mckenna Grace, are fun to watch as they settle into the new town and slowly uncover their grandfather’s secrets. There’s charm, there’s humor, there’s character growth and there’s a playfulness about all the Ghostbusters stuff.
But by the end of the film, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” goes too far. The movie screeches to a halt, and the story about a couple of grandchildren saving the world instead becomes a slog of trotting out old characters and old dialogue, just to appease old fans. Speaking as an old fan, this part of the movie was a disappointment.
“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is mostly a worthwhile film with new ideas, charming characters and a healthy love for everything that came before. But by the end of the movie, it becomes so overloaded with unnecessary nostalgia that it spoils everything else that happened in the movie.