Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Ghostbusters: Afterlife, 2021, 4 stars

Ghosts  (of our childhood) return

Jason Reitman does fans (and his dad) proud

Exclusive to MeierMovies, November 22, 2021

After a terrible 1989 sequel, a dreadful 2016 remake and countless non-theatrical offshoots that never captured the magic of the landmark 1984 film, Ghostbusters is finally back. And original director Ivan Reitman didn’t have to look far for someone to helm it. Like the wonderful new movie, his decision was all about family.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the answer to the question: What did moviegoers not realize they had been waiting 37 years for? Reitman’s son, Jason (Up in the Air, Young Adult), has given us the answer, along with co-writer Gil Kenan and a great ensemble cast featuring Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon (who plays the daughter of Egon Spengler) and the next generation of busters: Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Logan Kim and Celeste O’Connor. And in one of the worst-kept secret of 2021, yes, the cast also includes Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson – plus some minor surprises and one thunderbolt. (And watch closely for interesting turns from J.K. Simmons and Tracy Letts, plus dozens of Easter eggs.)

I’ll let you discover the story on your own, suffice to say it rehashes a lot of the original script without seeming too repetitive and relies heavily on nostalgia without feeling cloying. It never reaches the comedic heights of the 1984 classic. Indeed, despite clever dialogue and many chuckles, this is more Speilbergian science-fiction adventure than comedy. And though it leans too heavily on a Goonies vibe in its second act, the end product is quite simply the most fun you’ll have at the movies this year.

As I left the cinema on what should have been a busy Sunday afternoon, I lamented the lack of crowds. I had been one of only about 10 people inside a theater meant for a hundred, and I saw roughly that same amount mingling in the lobby – and that included the four employees tasked with holding down the entire fort. Two were at the concession stand, one was at the bar, and another was sweeping the floor and scanning tickets. The box office, which, pre-pandemic, would have housed several employees busily selling tickets, was empty save a sign telling customers to pay inside, presumably from one of the two guys selling snacks or from a self-serve kiosk.

We must return to some semblance of normal. We need to get past the COVID fear that is now just as great a threat as the virus itself. And we need to restore healthy theatrical windows and cut back on simultaneous streaming openings. If we don’t, the movie industry we once loved will never fully recover. Forget Gozer. That would be the true apocalypse.

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For more information on the movie, visit IMDB and Wikipedia.