The Pissed Take - Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Release Date 19Nov2021
GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE **OR** NO 'STALGIA GOES UNPUNISHED -AKA- It's time to cremate this corpse.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife, is a... sorta-quel to the 1984 scifi-comedy hit "Ghostbusters", directed by Ivan Reitman from a screenplay by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The movie (and it's sequel) starred Ramis, Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson as paranormal exterminators cleaning out ghosts in NYC before having to deal with a powerful and ancient extra-dimensional threat. It was a smash hit famous for strong world building, irreverence and the confident improvisational skills of it's comedic leads.
The 1989 sequel, while not as good as the OG, is funnier than it's given credit for and not really deserving of the disdain some have for it. Shame it isn't recognized in this movie.
The less said about the 2016 Paul Feig directed cinematic colonoscopy, the better. It sets the bar low for this movie.
Which brings me to 2021's Ghostbusters: Afterlife, directed by Jason Reitman (son of Ivan)... I mentioned "Sorta-quel", and I really do mean - SORTA.
It's not a traditional sequel, it isn’t progressing the narrative set forth in previous movies, and it isn't really a "side-quel" - telling a story in parallel to established narrative. It is a bit of both, and more than a little annoying because of it.
No spoilers, but I'll give you the broad strokes.
A family, down on their luck and facing eviction, inherits a rundown farm and debt in a small town (in Oklahoma) from an estranged dad/grandfather. They soon discover that grandpa was more than he seemed and was preparing for a supernatural threat underneath the town.
Nostalgia can kiss my honey-brown ass! It and the knuckleheads who employ it's greasy cheapness seem to be ever present in any revisiting of an older property. All the iconography, none of the context (or heart) that made it's existence worth a damn.
This movie is extremely reverential to the '84 film - annoyingly so. It understands that it is important to people, but not WHY. It clearly doesn't understand why the previous films work, so it doesn't try, opting instead for a confused mutation of family drama and coming of age crap, clumsily glued together with nostagia call-backs so on the nose, sentiment so cloying, and a finale so lazy, you'd think the thing was made by J.J. Abrams from script written by meth'd out rhesus monkeys. This one rates an "It's OK" at best.
There were good things.
McKenna Grace was wonderful as Phoebe, a very funny and natural young lady who I hope does well. Best part of this movie! Paul Rudd runs a close second, but is under-utilized and wasted on a setup to a cheap payoff. Everyone else including cameos is forgettable.
There are some laughs to be had (mostly from Grace and Rudd) and the production value is nicely done, though the constant reuse of cues from Elmer Bernstein's superb score from the original film only underscores this movie's generational degradation. The rest is an oddly soulless affair from people who should have damn well known better.
SEE IT: If you like your movies like you like your popcorn: empty and forgettable.
DON'T: If you're good with one good movie and one slightly less good movie being quite enough.
P.S. - There are 2 post credit scenes. They don't help.