Ghostbusters: the afterlife debuts on VOD after a slow theatrical streak, preceded by Covid-related release delays, which were preceded by a 2016 floparoo of a franchise reboot, which was preceded by decades of interest / anticipation for a sequel or something, which was preceded by disappointing 1989 Ghostbusters II, which was preceded by an all-time classic and perfect film, 1984 ghost hunters, which was preceded by the emergence of the universe, which I’m pretty sure would adapt very well with just one ghost hunters movie. Life after death carries a pedigree with director Jason Reitman, son of Ivan, and brings all the old characters back to fart in a new story dominated by new characters. So, will this sound like a new movie, or will it be haunted by the specters of the franchise’s turbulent past?
The essential: We don’t know it’s Summerville, Oklahoma yet, but we’ll find out soon enough: Crazy stuff is going on. It is about an old man on an isolated farm. Long story short, he’s killed by a ghost, but it’s considered a heart attack. Elsewhere, Callie (Carrie Coon), whose last name is Spengler, please raise an eyebrow at this, gets her butt kicked out of her apartment, so she has to pack her 15-year-old son Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and 12-year-old – old maid Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and moves into the dilapidated landfill she inherited from the father who abandoned her decades ago – the same man who died in the first few moments, the man known as by Egon Spengler, Ghostbuster. Of course, the place is full of crazy bullshit: a tower of books stacked vertically, a basement full of crazy scientist equipment, an old barn with a dramatically modified classic Cadillac hearse, etc., you know, the stuff. usual that belonged to a guy who once fired a crackling electric laser into a giant marshmallow man’s ass.
I stop to note how Summerville exists in a slightly warped Netherlands in the days when a drive-thru burger restaurant still operates and the school still uses VCRs, which I think is a joke, a few comments on the financing of schools in “Merica”. But Summerville also has podcasts – as evidenced by a character named Podcast (Logan Kim), who as you can guess creates podcasts – and YouTube, so the characters can search for key scenes from ghost hunters (1984). If you’re ready to say F this movie at this point, I don’t blame you, but I will continue, as I must. Phoebe has a severe case of EgonSpengleritis, being a social misfit with a monotonous voice and a brain for experimental science. She fiddles with a lot of familiar Ghostbuster gear and plays chess with an invisible apparition in the house with a seemingly grandfather disposition, hmm. She attends Podcast and befriends her science teacher, Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), and together they investigate strange earthquakes that appear to be coming from an abandoned selenium mine nearby. Yes, Gary Grooberson. Even the script itself notes how stupid a name it is.
In the barn, Trevor turns on the Ecto-1 for a ride, which I think might impress the girl he’s fallen for, Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), but it’s hard to say, because no one in it. movie doesn’t stop with the fucking aftershocks, not even a second. ARE NOT THEY INTELLIGENT. Inevitably, the Master of Keys and the keeper of the characters force their way through the plot, shaking off the dust of all manner of artifacts from ghost hunters (1984). No spoilers, but rest assured, you’ve seen a lot of this stuff before.
What movies will this remind you of? : I can’t quite put my finger on the title of the one movie he remembers so vividly. Wait – I think it is GHOST HUNTERS OPEN PARENTHESES NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR CLOSED PARENTHESES.
Performances to watch: Is it okay if you don’t find any particularly endearing performances? The script is so boring that it makes your nose crumple in front of people still as in love as Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon and even Bill Murray.
Memorable dialogue: Some perhaps affectionate back and forth between Callie and Grooberson:
Callie: The only thing hiding here is my slowly dying soul.
Groob: Is that the smell?
Callie: Well, it’s not dinner.
Gender and skin: Nothing. TBFRWIWLTFITETAF: Too busy remembering fondly what it was like to Fâ in the ’80s to actually Fâ.
Our opinion : Callie tries to put a positive spin on dreary old Summerville to Phoebe: “Maybe you’ll make a friend here.” “Make one with what?” ” She answers. This is the breadth of characterization that Reitman and Gil Kenan’s screenplay allows: Sometimes a joke reveals something, but most of the time the jokes are hanging in the air like a beanbag, waiting for us to put it in. our face and inhalations. I’m all for high dialogue – hey, guess what 1984 movie did that extraordinarily well? – but this script is in many shades too sarcastic for its own good. The characters act as if they had seen ghost hunters several times before and have memorized all the key parts. How else do you explain how so many of them intuitively know how to use all of Egon’s doohickeys and gadgets? It’s not the type of information encoded in one’s genetic material, unless one is created in a screenwriter’s lab to be part of a heavily crafted nostalgia machine for a movie sequel.
Life after death also makes the mistake of thinking this franchise needs too complicated a background mythology to give credit to everything that happened in the first one ghost hunters. Then he makes another mistake of doing it halfway and failing to generate any real interest or emotional investment in what is going on. When the movie finally gets to give us the big bucks we know will come, it comes with the sloppiness that befits not a sequel to a beloved movie, but a vaguely disrespectful scam. For example, when Dan Aykroyd appears deep in the movie, he’s handed a steaming pile of awkward exhibits to recite, as good ol ‘Ray Stantz would explain everything that has happened to the Ghostbusters since the 1980s, uninvited, to a character who’s a complete stranger, but not really, because all the rotten spiel isn’t for that character, but for us, the audience.
And you know what? We don’t need it. The Murray / Aykroyd / Ramis / Hudson Ghostbusters don’t need an explanation. They were funny as hell. They were idiots. They have become unlikely heroes. They came, they saw, they kicked his ass. They were ready to believe YOU. This chick was TOAST. Now look at me, falling into the same referential nostalgia trap that cinema sets for us. Isn’t it easy? Much too easy. And that’s why Life after death is a charmless essay pastiche, a shallow, stuffed mess that’s little more than a lousy replica of an ’80s comedy.
Our call: TO JUMP. Ghostbusters: the afterlife is a big disappointment.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Learn more about his work at johnserbaatlarge.com.
Where to stream Ghostbusters: the afterlife