By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Jason Reitman has obviously chosen a career that follows in his father’s footsteps in cinema. This has never been more apparent until he chose to make a sequel to his father’s (Ivan Reitman) iconic Ghostbusters movies. Though not as overtly comedic as his Ivan Reitman’s first entries in the franchise, Jason Reitman uses his opportunity to contribute to the Ghostbusters series with a very personal film that both honors and celebrates Ivan Reitman’s contributions to cinema and pop culture. I know that this movie will not appeal to everyone who loves the previous movies, but Reitman has certainly made a movie on his own terms, and I feel that it will definitely appeal and touch some of the fans who hold the original movies in such high regard.
Written by Gil Kenan and Jason Reitman, Ghostbusters: Afterlife appropriately takes place thirty-seven years after the events of the very first movie. A troubled American family gets evicted from their home and have no other choice, but to move to the old house of an estranged, late relative who spent his last days in a ramshackle old farm in a dead end town named Summerville, Oklahoma. As single mother Callie (Carrie Koon) and her children Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (McKenna Grace) adjust to their new home and surroundings, they soon discover that their father/grandfather once had a stange career as a Ghostbuster. Even though this discovery doesn’t really faze or impress Callie, the more impressionable Phoebe and Trevor want to know more. In their discoveries they soon realize that a malevolent supernatural force, which previously threatened the world, is planning to make a major comeback.
The original Ghostbusters take a much stronger tongue-in-cheek and more cartoonish approach to their tones. Whle Jason Reitman mildly acknowledges this in his film, his approach to the material is a tad more serious, which will probably rub some fans the wrong way. As for myself, I actually really enjoyed this difference. The movie does have its share of comedic and amusing moments, but raising the stakes a little made the film much more compelling for me. In addition, Jason Reitman gives his film a more exciting edge by including an amazing ghost-chasing action sequence which delivers some wonderful thrills.
What strikes me the most about this movie is the heart that went into it and permeates just about every moment in it. By making the children the main protagonists of the movie gives it more wild-eyed wonderment and sentimentality that the other films don’t have. At the heart of this movie is actor McKenna Grace who shines so wonderfully as Phoebe, an intelligent and awkward misfit who totally gets what her grandfather was trying to accomplish. While he certainly performs solidly, Stranger Things actor doesn’t get all that much to do in this movie, unfortunately.
When it comes to the comedy, though, I must say that Paul Rudd contributes his lovable comic stylings which provide for several laughs in the film. Carrie Coon also performs wonderfully as the descendant of a Ghostbuster who feels slighted and unloved, given her father’s obsession with saving the world from malevolent supernatural forces.
Now, I chose not to reveal which Ghostbuster it is in my review, because the discovery of that information is definitely part of the movie’s fun. And there is plenty of fun, excitement and amusement to be had in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. It is a movie I highly recommend for fans of the original, and also for new audiences just discovering the fun and magic this franchise has to offer.