REVIEW: “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” Strikes Nostalgia in Fans of the Original (Spoiler Alert)

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Paul Rudd stars in Ghostbusters revival film. / Photo via ghostbusters.com

In an effort to revive a pop culture phenomenon that took the box office of the 1980s by storm, director Jason Reitman, who is the son of the original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman, took a giant chance by bringing it all back to life and pulling out all the stops to make sure this risk paid off, literally. 

This was a really fun watch that was well thought out from the beginning all the way to the end. In a time where “rebooting” these franchises seems to be the cool thing to do, I felt as if this stood out from the rest simply by keeping it simple. Normally, attempting to reboot a franchise could be potentially dangerous for the future of filmmaking, but Reitman’s clear vision was in what he wanted. 

There was real character development here, and that’s what made this movie compelling in every way, starting with the main character Phoebe played by Mackena Grace. A quiet, shy nerd, Phoebe is not like a normal 12-year-old. She is ahead of her time in a lot of ways and as a result, struggles to connect with the other kids her age. Of course, this is also due to the fact that she’s new in an Oklahoma town when she moves into her mysterious grandfather’s house with her mother Callie, played by Carrie Coon, and her brother Trevor, who is played by Finn Wolfhard. 

That all changes when she meets Logan Kim’s character Podcast, a friendly, funny kid who’s obsessed with his hair and loves doing his podcast show everywhere he goes. She also seems to connect with her science teacher Grooberson who’s played by Paul Rudd. Phoebe and her family move into their grandfather’s house not knowing much about who he was and the great everlasting legacy he left behind, more specifically, the Ghostbusters. 

Both Phoebe and Trevor seem to uncover this mystery throughout the film. When Trevor wanders around the house one day, he finds an old beat-up station wagon and discovers it’s the old vehicle that belonged to the Ghostbusters. Meanwhile, Phoebe finds an extra part of the house that no one knows about and explores the space, soon to find out that her grandfather is none other than Egon Spengler, who was played by the late great Harold Ramis.

Not knowing much about the Ghostbusters, Phoebe finds a vintage ghost trapped in her grandfather’s secret office and brings it into school to show her science teacher Grooberson. Grooberson is amazed and begins rambling how it belonged to the Ghostbusters as if it were some great memory he had as a kid growing up in the ’80s. The writers probably do this on purpose as a way of paying homage to the nostalgia for the audience who grew up watching Ghostbusters. This was a way for the characters and the audience to connect, even if only for a short while. 

Finally, once the Ghosts come back and the world is basically in danger again, it is up to Phoebe, Trevor, Podcast, Grooberson and Callie to carry on the legacy of the Ghostbusters. When all hope seems lost, Reitman saves the surprise he had, which ends up being the best part of the movie, and brings back the original cast of: Venkman, played by Bill Murray; Stantz, played by Dan Akroyd; and Ernie Hudson, played by Winston Zeddemore, for one last ride. But the jaw-dropping moment was how they also managed to bring back Harold Ramis’ character, Egon Spengler, through CGI. 

This was a beautiful moment for the film and brings the moment to an off-the-walls, bonkers nostalgic trip to what many who are loyal fans of the franchise longed for. Of course, it wouldn’t really be Ghostbusters without the humor, and that’s exactly what Venkman’s “I thought you might turn up” line to a supernatural Egon Spangler is the prime example of. Maybe this movie wasn’t perfect, but it was a compelling and heartwarming story that pays great tribute, but deep down you might think it probably shouldn’t exist. 

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