Take Me to the Afterlife
I feel like I’m one of many fans who has sat patiently for the last 20 years, eagerly awaiting someone, ANYONE to take up the mantle of the Ghostbusters and bring the zany comedy back to the mainstream. When 2016 rolled around and they announced that the Ghostbusters would be returning to the big screen, I was overjoyed. I was elated. Then I witnessed the clown car train wreck that was Ghostbusters 2016. How do you screw up when you have Melissa McCarthy? I digress. It was the kind of disappointment that lingers inside of you like a malignant disease. It hurt. It makes you wary of everything and everyone that threatens to touch your beloved memories. So when 2019 rolled around and it was announced that a new Ghostbusters was in the works I, and everyone I knew was skeptical. As details of the new film began to trickle in, our hesitation began to wane. Hope started its inevitable rise in our very souls. Ok, I’m being dramatic but it feels that way sometimes regardless.
Enter 2020, Covid, elections, riots, turmoil chaos and whatever other apocalyptic verbiage you wish to exaggerate with spread across the land like wildfire and lost in the carnage were snippets of information concerning this supposed return to Ghostbusting glory. Oh sure, we tried to pay attention. We tried to hang on to hope. A release date came down, then it moved. Rinse. Repeat. Finally a date was settled on. November 16th, 2021. After everything that we had been through we at least had something to look forward to. Tentatively. Trailers came out, methodically massing our curiosity, promising a story that felt more like a sequel than its predecessor in 2016. We knew that Harold Ramis would not be featured, but we surprisingly were gifted with the satisfaction of Jason Reitman, son of the original director, Ivan Reitman, being the director. Finally the sun began to peek through the clouds. So, is all of this hyperbole rewarded, is our last thread of hope strengthened with this last glimmer of light for a dying franchise?
In the words of the immortal Janine Melnitz, “WE GOT ONE!”
This movie delivered spectacularly in every way. From the opening credits (No spoilers here, them’s the rules.) to the closing end credits scenes, I was glued to this feature. The story was set early, with a mysterious opener that left more questions than answers but fans of the series will understand what had occurred and who was involved even if they’re left wondering why. It begins a narrative that follows the story of an estranged daughter, Carrie Spengler (Carrie Coon) scraping by, gifted a home by Egon at the most opportune moment. She drags her two children to the middle of nowhere, picking through the wreckage of her and her father’s life. Stuck with nowhere to go shenanigans naturally ensue. The focus here is primarily on Phoebe, (Mckenna Grace) the brilliant granddaughter of the famed ghostbuster. Scientific, literal and utterly humorless, she embodies the primary traits of her grandfather. Delivering dry quips and devastating truths, she feels like a more lovable and human version of Sheldon Cooper, without copycatting the iconic character. It’s a good thing and handled excellently.
The occasional glimpse into Trevor, (Finn Wolfhard) the older brother’s life reveals a typical city teenager trying to cope with his new existence in a hick town. The part is played well and is naturally helped along with an awkward love interest. The chemistry between the two is noticeable and feels organic if stereotypical. It works the story forward while highlighting the differences between brother and sister. The dialogue feels natural and captures the essence of ridiculous teenagers in this modern age, regardless of where they come from.
Paul Rudd is a national treasure and his blend of humor while somehow still coming off as intelligent is charming and necessary to stave off the fatalist speech of Egon’s daughter. (The revelation of the dirt farmer quips were hilarious) He seamlessly delivers each of his ill timed lines in a manner that manages to capture both her time and attention. He reinforces the awesome nature of science while still trying to be cool. (I would have killed to have a teacher like him) He keeps the pace fresh and definitely lends the Peter Vankman touch to the story.
This movie was all about story and feelings. The struggle of a single mother. The coming of age for a teenager. An awkward genius trying to make sense of a dull world. The bored science teacher. This strange conglomeration fits neatly into an amazing and unique story while still retaining the feel and magic of the previous entries. I was always aware that I was watching a ghostbusters movie, but it was still somehow new and fun. It felt like a perfectly penned love letter to Harold Ramis and Ivan Reitman and I couldn’t stop reading.
The CGI was appropriately cheesy while still adding to the view. It didn’t feel overly forced and even the political commentary that seems to permeate so much of the media these days was minimized but still poignant and funny. It does what every great comedy should do. Holds a mirror to society and forces us to look at what we are. It shows that even the strongest heroes can be weak. The greatest teams can drift apart and that nothing is stronger than family. Be it blood or choice. The music was pulled directly from the originals, but still new, and provided a glorious atmosphere under which the movie moved. I loved it and I’m sure you will too.
The single greatest compliment I can give this movie is a simple one. If you can manage to make the entire theater cry, you’ve created a spectacular film. Not many movies can move me, but this one succeeded. An incredible film, just short of magnificent but still a must see for any fan. Even the hateful ones. Well done everyone. This is how you reward a fandom.
8.75 out of 10