Review: ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ ain’t afraid of nostalgia

Directed by Jason Reitman, the son of the unique director of the franchise, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” updates the collection for a brand new millennium. Photograph: Sony Footage / TNS

Jason Reitman’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” a legacy sequel directed by a legacy filmmaker, arrives in theaters Friday, Nov. 19 — a mere 5 years after Paul Feig’s female-fronted reboot didn’t gentle up the field workplace.

That movie, which inadvertently ignited a tradition conflict of indignant keyboard warriors within the lead-up to its launch, was a serviceable try and replace the franchise for a brand new millennium. One of many causes it didn’t take off was as a result of it selected to disregard the “Ghostbusters” canon that “Afterlife,” in contrast, wraps itself in like an enormous, comfortable blanket.

Finn Wolfhard (left), Mckenna Grace and Logan Kim star in “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.” Photograph: Kimberley French / Related Press

The final time we noticed Manhattan’s most well-known paranormal investigators (Invoice Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson) was within the less-than-revered “Ghostbusters 2” in 1989, however that by no means stopped followers (and residential studio Sony) from hoping the OG crew would don their proton packs and dispatch ectoplasmic entities as soon as once more. Ramis’ passing in 2014 appeared to foreclose a big-screen reunion, however with the Feig model fizzling, director-writer Reitman (son of unique “Ghostbusters” director Ivan Reitman) noticed a possibility to each pay homage to and carry ahead his father’s most-revered challenge.

Eschewing the franchise’s signature New York locales, “Afterlife” is ready within the desolate Oklahoma city of Summerville, the place the household of the not too long ago deceased Egon Spengler (Ramis) relocates after being evicted from its dwelling. Sure, the beloved, bespectacled Egon had a household that he deserted to reside out his days on a dust farm, leaving daughter Callie (Carrie Coon), grandson Trevor (Finn Wolfhard of “Stranger Issues”) and granddaughter Phoebe (McKenna Grace) to choose via the remnants left behind by a person they by no means knew.

Type of a bummer begin, and in addition tonally dissonant with the films it’s ostensibly following, however given Ramis’ loss of life in 2014 (the movie is devoted to him),  it’s a sensible approach to weave a narrative the place his presence is integral — even when he himself isn’t round for it.

Paul Rudd channels the franchise’s comedy type along with his portrayal of the over-it summer time college teacher Mr. Grooberson. Photograph: Kimberley French / Related Press

If there’s an approximation of the sooner entries’ comedian type, it resides virtually totally in Paul Rudd’s over-it summer time college teacher Mr. Grooberson, who acts like a non secular inheritor to Murray’s Peter Venkman. He groups up with Phoebe after she discovers one thing unusual within the neighborhood … that will or could not tie into occasions of the 1984 movie.

Talking of that ’80s unique, the huge merchandising launched in its wake noticed a technology come of age watching the animated cartoon collection whereas enjoying with the motion figures. This in flip meant any new try needed to measure as much as our collective recollections of the film, the merch and the final rose-colored view of the period. In consequence, “Afterlife” typically seems like a “Ghostbusters” theme park attraction strolling us via acquainted sights, sounds and faces from the franchise’s 37-year historical past.

Mckenna Grace (proper) and Logan Kim confront one thing unusual within the neighborhood. Photograph: Related Press

That mentioned, there are some huge laughs and an excessive amount of coronary heart. Grace specifically is terrific as a pint-sized chip off the ol’ grandpa, and newcomer Logan Kim is lots of enjoyable as her podcast-obsessed classmate.

In taking up his father’s most well-known property, the youthful Reitman (together with co-writer Gil Kenan) is aware of the task: Get our nostalgic protons firing whereas ensuring to place some gasoline within the iconic Ecto-1 for its subsequent trip.

In case you have a look at it cynically, the whole third act is a collection of calculated call-and-response moments. Nonetheless, it’ll most likely put an enormous smile on the faces of longtime followers at precisely the factors the filmmakers supposed.

The unique “Ghostbusters” was a singular expertise that may by no means be replicated. However “Afterlife” does take us again right into a beloved world and affords the chance to hang around with previous buddies we thought we’d by no means see once more.

M“Ghostbusters: Afterlife”: Journey comedy. Directed by Jason Reitman. Starring Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard and McKenna Grace.  (PG-13. 124 minutes.) In theaters Friday, Nov. 19.

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