Ghostbusters: Afterlife -B+
Rated PG-13, 124 minutes
Some things have a new life of their own, and the charming, silly fun "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," which is a direct sequel to the original "Ghostbusters" films from the 1980's, shows that there's still life in a nearly forty-year old franchise, which will make children of the '80's like me feel really, really old.
When single mother Callie ("Gone Girl's Carrie Coon) and her two children Phoebe (Mckenna Grace of "I, Tonya") and Trevor ("It's“ Finn Wolfhard) move to a new town in rural Oklahoma, they soon discover they have a connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.
The enjoyable, often funny "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" is directed and co-written by Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air"), the son of the original "Ghostbusters" director Ivan Reitman. In writing the script with Gil Kenan (of the "Poltergeist" remake), they made some positive changes that work well. The biggest change is the urban setting has been moved New York City to rural Oklahoma. In addition are the new characters, revolving around the family of original "Ghostbusters" character Egon Spangler, played by the late Harold Ramis, for whom the film is dedicated to. Grace is a delight as Egon's granddaughter Phoebe, who becomes the driving force for the film, creating not only a touching tribute to Ramis but a contemporary tribute to feminism, which the 2016 all-female version didn't do as well.
The first half of "Afterlife" really clicks as an energetic, hilarious original film, aided by the rustic setting, likable cast, including the very helpful addition of "Role Models'" Paul Rudd, with his customary goofiness, as well as some solid visuals. The second half takes off into the usual "Ghostbusters" silliness filled with lively special effects, lasers and nasty ghosts, many of them returning from the original films, including much tinier versions of the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man, who wreak just as much havoc here as before.
And yes, most of the other original cast members return too: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver all make brief appearances with some sentimental '80's nostalgia. Through technology, Ramis also very briefly (and poignantly) returns, giving it a nice, sentimental touch.
All said, Jason Reitman has given the film added color and character in this sequel, making it a winning entry in this franchise, even if it‘s nothing really new (ghosts, ghosts and more ghosts with a little Bill Murray). "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" also retains its goofy charm and is a treat for who remember the first two films, as well as the new generation of fans unfamiliar with the original Ghostbusters. An entertaining time, add to your list to see this fall.