“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is a love letter to fans that grew up with the franchise that debuted back in 1984. It made me feel like I was a little kid again, wearing my Ghostbusters uniform for Halloween complete with plastic proton pack on my back, and if my mother tells the story, not taking it off for a year after.
I remember sliding the ghost trap across my basement floor and sighing when it tipped over on its side. Seeing that exact tiny detail included in the movie made me beyond happy. It’s clear the writers sat around and talked about what the fan experience was like when they were kids.
Because really, they were more than fans. The film’s director and co-writer Jason Reitman (“Juno,” “Up in the Air”) was a child when his dad Ivan directed the first two Ghostbusters films. It all feels like a family affair, and we the fans have been invited.
To further capture the magic of our youth, the story centers around a group of kids. A single mother moves with her son and daughter to a “dirt farm” in Oklahoma left behind by her estranged father who abandoned her when she was young. The property has many secrets, and before long the kids learn that their grandfather was none other than Egon Spengler from the Ghostbusters team that saved New York City from ghosts decades earlier.
Egon didn’t abandon his life and move to Oklahoma for pleasure, but to stop world-ending business. Gozer the Gozerian, the same villain from the first movie, is trying to return to take over the world, again joined by demon dog agents Vinz Clortho, The Keymaster, and Zuul, The Gatekeeper.
Egon passed away trying to stop them, and now it’s up to the kids. Watching the kids discover this world of ghosts lets the audience rediscover that thrill we had watching the original movie.
My kids loved it. Parts were spookier than anticipated — one jump scare made my daughter spill her lemonade — but it was highly entertaining throughout with exciting action and funny dialogue among a top-notch cast.
Finn Wolfhard (“Stranger Things”) and prolific child actor McKenna Grace (“Gifted”) play the grandkids, with Carrie Coon (“The Nest”) as their struggling, yet lovable mom. Paul Rudd is ideal as a summer school teacher, filling the goofy comedic role à la Rick Moranis.
And of course with an evil returning from the original movie, the kids seek help from the original Ghostbusters. It’s here that the film hits its peak of nostalgia, while also paying its respects to deceased actor Harold Ramis, who played Egon and helped write the original films.
The all-women “Ghostbusters” movie of 2016 was fun, but failed to capture the magic of the first two franchise installments. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” gives the fans what they want. It’s made with love and is as nostalgic as it gets while still welcoming new fans into the world of the Ghostbusters.
“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is in theaters now.