Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Review by Rich Cline | 3.5/5

Ghostbusters: Afterlife
dir Jason Reitman
prd Ivan Reitman
scr Gil Kenan, Jason Reitman
with Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Logan Kim, Celeste O'Connor, Bokeem Woodbine, JK Simmons, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Sigourney Weaver
release US/UK 19.Nov.21
21/US Columbia 2h04

coon rudd aykroyd
See also:
Ghostbusters (2016)

Is it streaming?

wolfhard, grace and kim
There's an enjoyably retro vibe to the comedy and thrills in this nearly 40-years-later sequel. Centring on a group of kids having an appropriately ridiculous supernatural adventure, the approach perhaps seems like a humorous variation on Stranger Things. But it's the more grown-up nods and gags that keep the audience involved, leading to superb cameos from the original cast and a finale that feels epic but never overblown.
When her eccentric father dies, Callie (Coon), her lively 17-year-old son Trevor (Wolfhard) and brainy 12-year-old Phoebe (Grace) move to his rural Oklahoma farm. Trevor gets a diner job to be near hot waitress Lucky (O'Connor), and Carrie sparks with goofy schoolteacher Gary (Rudd). Meanwhile, Phoebe notices ghostly goings-on that guide her to her grandfather's secret lab. With classmate Podcast (Kim), Phoebe discovers that the threat her Ghostbuster grandfather faced in 1984 New York is about to re-erupt right here. And her grandfather had a new plan to stop the marauding ghosts from destroying humanity.
Appropriately, the spirit of the late Harold Ramis (who played Callie's father Egon), infuses this sequel with an enjoyably goofy scientific charm. Jokes are smart and often absurd, while the characters constantly stroll into danger behave, as if they've never seen a movie like this before. This helps pull us into even the corniest action in unexpected ways. And filmmaker Jason Reitman (son of original director Ivan, who produces) keeps the expertly vintage-style effects from stealing focus from the characters.

The actors have a lot of fun with these roles, diving fully into the mayhem. The always engaging Rudd and Coon become increasingly riotous as the story progresses, layering terrific doses of humour and emotion into their awkward romantic subplot. Wolfhard, O'Connor and Kim provide their own different energies to the goings-on, which gives the story a solidly youthful tone. And the gifted Grace essentially carries the entire movie as the plucky science geek Phoebe. She effortlessly steals focus from the veterans even as they amusingly chomp on the scenery.

This is a rare blockbuster that avoids the usual bombast for something a bit more delicate. New audiences may struggle with the gentle mix of silliness and scariness. But Reitman deploys both with skill, keeping us chuckling at the dad jokes before cranking up some suspense and jolting us with a well-timed fright. And while some of the references feel a bit random (like rather a lot of marshmallow man gags), they're so genuinely warm-hearted that they still make us smile.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 4.Nov.21

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© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall