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Dueling Critics: Ghostbusters: Afterlife

18:00 November 29, 2021
By: David Vicari, Fritz Esker

Fritz: After what seems like an eternity, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is in theaters (it was originally supposed to come out in July 2020 and trailers were playing before the pandemic began). There were a number of things I liked about it. The first was not starting from scratch. There's nothing wrong with women headlining a Ghostbusters film, but one of the 2016 Ghostbusters' miscalculations was not including the old characters at all, especially since Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson were all willing to participate. Ghostbusters: Afterlife has a strong 12-year-old female lead (McKenna Grace), but it ties her story to the original story by making her Egon's (the late Harold Ramis) granddaughter.

What did you think?

David: I have a disdain for the "nostalgia reboot" trend in movies of late. The idea is that parents and older folks can enjoy seeing their beloved movie characters from their youth return to the screen and get unceremoniously killed off but not before handing the reins over to a younger generation of movie characters that younger filmgoers can identify with. The last Star Wars trilogy, as well as the new Halloween trilogy, are prime examples of this and, for me at least, the results are disheartening. So, I am surprised at how much I really liked Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

First of all, it has a good script. After the reclusive Egon dies under mysterious—and ghostly—circumstances, his estranged, and broke, daughter, Callie (Carrie Coon), packs up her two kids, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Grace), and moves into the dilapidated farmhouse that Egon left to her. The kids uncover Egon's old ghost trapping equipment and try to unravel the mystery of new phantasmal occurrences.

The new film also has good characters, and, yes, McKenna Grace is going to be a star. The young actress carries this movie effortlessly. I love that her physical appearance here—the puff of hair and spectacles—makes her look like a little Egon.

Fritz: I'm also not a fan of the "let's bring back a beloved character and kill them off" strategy. Part of the reason movies are fun is that they give people happy endings they don't get in real life. Even the best of us one day die. But our favorite movie characters don't have to because it's the movies. So yeah, seeing Han Solo get killed wasn't particularly rewarding for me, nor do I have even the slightest interest in seeing another Halloween movie (I haven't seen Halloween Kills, but I hated 2018's Halloween and everyone I know who saw Halloween Kills said it was dire).

The other thing I liked about Ghostbusters: Afterlife is it has an old-school feel. It's not over 2.5 hours (movies just seem to run longer and longer), nor does it seem like it desperately wants to be IMPORTANT. It has no goal other than to entertain, and it succeeds handsomely.

David: Yes, it does entertain. The sequence with the kids commandeering the Ghostbuster mobile and chasing the Slimer substitute, Muncher, through the main street of the town is one of the more exciting action scenes I have seen in recent memory.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is directed and co-written by Jason Reitman, whose father, Ivan Reitman, directed the original Ghostbusters. There is a personal connection, so I think Jason Reitman cared about making a good movie, and he did make a tremendously entertaining movie that actually has a few touching moments of nostalgia. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is something special.

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