Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

When a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.

Two siblings discover the legacy of their grandfather in . Evicted from her apartment, Callie () travels to Summerville, Oklahoma with her 15-year-old son Trevor () and 12-year-old daughter Phoebe () and move into a farm owned by Callie's estranged father, who recently passed away. After finding a ghost trap under the floorboards, Phoebe learns from her summer school teacher Mr. Grooberson () that her grandfather was Egon Speglar of the Ghostbusters. With a flux of paranormal activity from the local mine, Trevor and Phoebe team with new friends Podcast () and Lucky (Celeste O'Connor) to follow in the footsteps of the Ghostbusters and save the world.

Five years after the incredibly derided all-female 2016 reboot, which I personally thought was actually decent, Jason Reitman (Juno) follows in the footsteps of his father Ivan by co-writing and directing this legacy sequel set three decades after the original. The focus switches to the grandchildren of Egon Spengler, played by the late Harold Ramis in the original films, who learn about their family's legacy and use the equipment and Ecto-1 vehicle left behind to carry on the Ghostbusters' legacy and tackle a new and familiar supernatural threat.

It can be argued that Jason Reitman spent the first 15 years of his directorial career trying to prove that he is a completely different filmmaker than Ivan Reitman, with a filmography that includes 2005's Thank You for Smoking, 2007's Juno, 2009's Up in the Air, 2011's Young Adult, and 2018's Tully. As such, it is somewhat head-scratching that Jason Reitman would suddenly decide to follow in his father's legacy and director a new Ghostbusters film and it's hard not to assume that it was a result of the fan-vitriol that accompanied Paul Feig's 2016 reboot, which opted for an all-female cast, which brought out the misogynistic worst in internet fanboys.

However, instead of following the comedic footsteps of the previous films, Jason Reitman and co-writer Gil Kenan opted to play Ghostbusters: Afterlife relatively straight, with a young-adult focused story and rural town setting that is clearly influenced by the show Stranger Things, right down to casting on that shows stars Finn Wolfhard in one of the lead roles as Trevor. However, it is Trevor's younger sister Phoebe, played by Mckenna Grace, who is the true focus of the film, with her being characterized to be the most directly following in her grandfather Egon's footsteps.

Now, I don't want to be that guy who says that Ghostbusters: Afterlife is not my Ghostbusters film, but Ghostbusters: Afterlife is not my Ghostbusters film. Now I did enjoy certain nostalgic aspects of the film, including a cameo by the surviving Ghostbusters played by , , and , I would argue that Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a film not particularly concerned about ghostbusting and more about the young protagonists learning about their legacy as the next generation of Ghostbusters. I would also add that Ghostbusters: Afterlife almost ends up being more of a reboot than Paul Feig's film, with the second half of the film following many of the same beats of the 1984 original, including some familiar foes.

Spoilers beyond this point

Before I conclude, I want to include some SPOILER discussion about one element of the film that will probably end up being the most controversial inclusion of Ghostbusters: Afterlife and would be Jason Reitman's decision to include a CGI ghost of Harold Ramis appearing during the film's climax. While the film does previous establish that Egon is still around as an (invisible) ghost and is guiding Phoebe over the course of the film, it is ethically ambiguous whether it is appropriate whether you should include the likeness of a deceased actor, no matter how much it serves the story. Then there's the aforementioned return of the original Ghostbusters team, which happens quite suddenly and is only set up by a brief phone call Phoebe makes to Ray Stanz (Dan Aykroyd) to find out what happened to the original team.

Overall, while I admit that I enjoyed some of the moments of nostalgia Ghostbusters: Afterlife has to offer, including the Mini Stay Puft Marshmallow Men, which I'm sure are going to be merchandised to hell, I ultimately felt that the overall tone of the film was a bit off and Ghostbusters: Afterlife never really fully felt like a Ghostbusters film for me.

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Trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.