“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” falls into the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trap: it is nothing more than a retread of all the things you loved about the original 1984 blockbuster, but with younger and “different” characters. This isn’t to say it’s a bad movie (because it’s not), but do not go in expecting an exciting, original twist on the classic.
In almost a page-by-page recreation of the beloved supernatural comedy, this movie has very little plot. The storyline (which borrows heavily from the original) is so weak that it’s practically nonexistent. The screenplay forces a story to connect the new characters with the old.
Single mom Callie (Carrie Coon) moves her two kids (Mckenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard) to a run-down farm in a small Midwestern town after her estranged father dies. It should come as no surprise that they are connected to the Ghostbusters in some way. When specters begin to take over Main Street, the kids and their teacher Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd) start bustin’ with ancient equipment (proton packs, of course) they find in the barn. The plot is predictable and lazy, but still enjoyable.
The cast is so likeable, with a super cute roster of kids that ooze charisma. Yes, it’s a lot like “Stranger Things” meets “Ghostbusters,” but the casting fits like a glove. Everybody loves Rudd, who is probably the most affable guy on the planet, and the personalities are a perfect fit for the franchise. The most fun (and the film’s only real taste of surprise) comes from cameos that will bring about rounds of hearty applause from audiences, especially those 40 and older.
Passing the baton to a younger generation of fans is something I can get behind here, and director Jason Reitman doesn’t trash the original. There’s an appropriate, emotional tribute to Harold Ramis that comes from the heart, offering a touching closure to the fictional trio who saved New York City nearly four decades prior.
Those of us who remember seeing the first “Ghostbusters” in a packed theater in the mid-80s will be overjoyed with feel-good endorphins, but as soon as that warm rush of nostalgia fades, it becomes clear that “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is just a mediocre stroll down memory lane. It’s still highly entertaining, however.