Coming to grips with the past is the centerpiece of Bleecker Street’s family drama Montana Story. Writing and directing duo Scott McGehee and David Siegel collaborate again for the film, which I must warn viewers is a slow-moving drama.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a love letter to the franchise
Director Jason Reitman breathes new life into an eighties franchise with Columbia Pictures, Ghostbusters: Afterlife. After being evicted from their home, Callie (Carrie Coon), a single mother, and her two children Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) are forced to move to a decayed farmhouse in Summerville, Oklahoma, left to them by the children’s late grandfather, Egon Spengler.
While they are not initially sold on the idea of moving, Phoebe and Trevor quickly, make friends with Podcast (Logan Kim) and Lucky Domingo (Celeste O’Connor). However, before long, a series of unexplained earthquakes occur despite not being situated on any fault, and strange things are happening in an old mine that once belonged to the alleged occultist Ivo Shandor.
The children discover the history of their grandfather with the original Ghostbusters, who have since become a distant memory by the world beyond their fan base, which includes Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd), a teacher at Phoebe’s school. When a supernatural phenomenon relating to New York City’s “Manhattan Crossrip of 1984” occurs that threatens the world, the kids, along with their family and friends, must solve the decades-old mystery of the relocation of their grandfather and use the equipment of the Ghostbusters to become their successors to save it.
Arriving in theaters in the summer of 1984, Ghostbusters went on to become the second highest-grossing film of 1984 and spawned a franchise that includes a 1989 sequel and 2016 reboot and various forms of merchandise. The film’s first sequel was not as successful from a financial and critical standpoint though. Furthermore, while I had a fun time, the 2016 reboot featuring an all-female cast was also ill received.
Thankfully, director Jason Reitman, who co-writes the script with Gil Kenan, gets the tone right for the latest entry in the franchise. The strength of Ghostbusters: Afterlife is in the performance of Mckenna Grace as Phoebe. Grace, who first displayed her talent in 2017’s Gifted, brings a sense of relatable innocence to Phoebe that anyone who ever felt like an outsider growing up can relate to.
The script wisely avoids turning Phoebe into the victim of bullying and allows her to simply be a kid who loves science. Grace has some great moments with newcomer and scene-stealing Logan Kim, who portrays an overzealous podcaster. Kudos to the script for its use of the more established Finn Wolfhard and avoiding tapping into his persona from Stranger Things. While the overall tone of Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a bit Stranger Things, Wolfhard is more of a secondary character. However, I did enjoy the handling of his arc with the character of Lucky Domingo.
The primary adults in the cast, Paul Rudd and Carrie Coon, serve their purpose in the film, with Rudd bringing his usual quirks to the film while Coon does a total 180 from her work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Widows. Getting back to the script, I do want to point out that there is not a ton of laugh-out-loud moments, so if you are expecting a moment on par with Venkman’s insult of Walter Peck from the original, you may be disappointed.
Instead, the script serves as a love letter to the franchise with nods, winks, and tons of Easter eggs that will satisfy the diehard fans of the original film. Reitman’s direction and the choices he makes all work. In addition, when the BIG moments occur in the film’s third act, the wait is well worth it. That said, try to go into Ghostbusters: Afterlife blind so the moments earn your applause.
With solid performances from its cast, decent special effects, and most of all, heart, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is an excellent entry in the franchise.
Final Grade: B+
Ghostbusters: Afterlife opens in theaters tonight.
P.S. Be sure and stay through the credits for two post credit scenes
More to explorer
Keith Thomas returns to the horror genre for his second feature as a director in Firestarter from Blumhouse and Universal Pictures.
The multiverse takes a different angle in Everything Everywhere All at Once from A24. Michelle Yeoh top lines the film and portrays Evelyn Quan Wang, an exhausted Chinese American woman who cannot seem to finish her taxes. Her marriage to Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) is on the rocks, and she is having trouble accepting her daughter Joy’s (Stephanie Hsu) same-sex relationship.