I’ve generally been averse to the recent trend of reboots and decades-late sequels, but when I first saw the trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, I knew I wanted to see the movie.
I’ve said before that Ghostbusters was one of my favorite movies as a kid. Especially after that disastrous 2016 reboot, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, I had every reason to be skeptical of Ghostbusters: Afterlife. But I knew from the preview that this wouldn’t be a dumpster fire.
On Friday night, nearly two years after the first trailer dropped, I finally saw the movie.
And it proved its value to the franchise.
Written and directed by Jason Reitman, the son of Ivan Reitman, who directed the original movies, Afterlife manages to achieve an appropriate balance of emotional drama, comedy, and fan service. It was an experience in itself to watch the movie in the theatre with other fans of the original flicks who had taken their kids to see it, and there were plenty of easter eggs and nods to the original films.
But in truth, while the fan service was much appreciated, the movie held its own without it.
The story centers on a single mother, Callie, and her teenage son, Trevor, and pre-teen daughter, Phoebe. They are being evicted just as they have inherited the old farmhouse in Oklahoma that belonged to Callie’s estranged father, who, as even the trailers made clear, was Egon Spengler (played by the late Harold Ramis). Ramis died in 2014, but his presence is felt throughout the movie.
Afterlife doesn’t feel like the original Ghostbusters movies, and that’s okay. You’ll laugh throughout the movie because of well-written dialogue—something completely absent in Answer the Call.
If there was one thing I was particularly concerned about when I first saw the trailer, it was whether this would become the latest woke reboot of a beloved franchise.
I can assure you this is not the case. Afterlife doesn’t feature any “gender fluid” characters or LGBT propaganda that make you wish you didn’t bring your kids to the theatre with you.
The movie did allude to woke-ness on one occasion. The first film established that Gozer (the Sumerian god who is the main antagonist), who is presumed to be a man but appears as a woman, can be “whatever it wants to be.” In one scene in Afterlife, the kids at the focus of the movie refer to Gozer’s ability to be a man or a woman, and Trevor’s crush quips that Gozer was surprisingly woke for its time.
It was funny. I laughed.
Afterlife is by no means a perfect sequel, but it is a worthy one that avoids many of the things that make most of us cringe at the word “sequel” or “reboot.” The film is enjoyable for fans of the original movies and the next generation of Ghostbusters fans. We finally got the new Ghostbusters movie we deserved.