‘Afterlife’ is the sequel fans have been waiting for
“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is a bit slow in its first act, leaving viewers wondering when they’ll see the first ghost.
But clues begin to accumulate. And once the action begins, “Ghostbusters Afterlife” is a fun roller coaster that honors the legacy started back in 1984.
The movie offers nostalgia for fans who saw the original “Ghostbusters” when it first haunted theaters and young, quirky characters for a new generation. There’s something for everyone, and there are some cool Easter eggs linking “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” to the movie that started it all. The homages vary from characters to props to specific details. Watch carefully.
As the plot builds, fans get to see Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson, for the first time since the 1980s, as their original characters: Dr. Raymond Stantz, Dr. Peter Venkman and Winston Zeddemore. And Annie Potts, whose deadpan approach was a funny highlight of the first “Ghostbusters” movie, is back as Janine Melnitz.
Fans of the first movie will get more treats if they watch the scene just before the closing credits and a pivotal scene at the very end of the credits. Stick around.
The original actors don’t have a lot of time on screen, but what they have is integral to the movie’s plot. These aren’t just cameos.
No surprise there. The story is based on the first film’s plot, and there are other connections.
The story was co-written by Gil Kenan and director Jason Reitman, whose father, Ivan Reitman, directed the first film. Ivan Reitman, who has had a home in Montecito, produced “Afterlife,” and Mr. Aykroyd and Mr. Kenan are among the executive producers.
The new story sets the stage for what is essentially “Ghostbusters: The Next Generation” with intriguing, young characters.
There are some minor plot spoilers ahead.
Mckenna Grace stars as Phoebe, the 12-year-old granddaughter of ghostbuster Egon Spengler from the first two movies, and with her circular glasses and serious facial expressions, she resembles the actor who played Egon, the late Harold Ramis.
“Ghostbusters: Alive” succeeds largely because of Grace’s performance. Like Egon, she’s smart, but isn’t entirely comfortable with the world around her. Her older brother, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), seems more confident but lacks her intelligence, and he has his share of awkward moments.
Their mother, Callie (Carrie Coon), is single and trying to raise them despite financial problems. She’s estranged from her father, Egon.
When Egon dies, Callie inherits his house and farm in the middle of nowhere. The kids hate moving there, but they need a place to live.
Fortunately, Phoebe meets a friend who calls himself Podcast (Logan Kim), and they become pals with their summer school teacher, Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd). Trevor meets Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), and a new team of ghostbusters is emerging.
Just in time, because the spirits are returning.
Well, as is common in movies like this one, the kids are smarter than the adults in their community, which is a good thing because the grownups are oblivious to the danger.
All the excitement is accompanied by great comedy, including hilarious scenes that will please fans of the first movie.
And “Afterlife” succeeds because the actors realize the secret to being funny is to take everything very seriously. Which is exactly what “Afterlife” does, along with providing some heartfelt moments about what it means to be a family.
“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” leaves the door open for a sequel, which is fortunate, because if the ghosts come back, “who you gonna call?”