‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ Review: Big on Fan-Service, Low on Fun

You know what they say: fool me once, shame on you. Fool me three times, you’re the Ghostbusters sequels.

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is the fourth installment of the franchise, and serves as a direct sequel to the first two films. Directed by Jason Reitman, son of the original film’s director Ivan, the plot follows two young kids (Mckenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard) and their science teacher (Paul Rudd) who uncover a mystery involving their recently deceased grandfather and the old town he moved to.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the “Ghostbusters” franchise; I think the first film is fun enough and the 2016 is a pretty big misfire (I never saw the 1989 sequel because everyone says don’t bother). I was looking forward to “Afterlife” because I’m a fan of Jason Reitman’s directorial efforts and am a sucker for anything Paul Rudd (who isn’t?), but the end result is just a film built on nothing but fan service and recycled plot lines, which may be enough for some but doesn’t make for a wholly enjoyable film.

A common complaint about the remake/delayed/retconned sequels like “Halloween” and “The Force Awakens” is that they end up just being the original film with a new paint job, and rely on people saying “oh, I recognize that thing from that other thing I like!” I am all fine with Easter eggs and nods to classic films, but “Afterlife” puts it into overdrive. It’s basically 125 minutes of the DiCaprio snap-and-point meme, to the point where Reitman and his team abandon any attempts at being creative and just remake the original film’s climax.

Performance-wise, things are mostly solid. Mckenna Grace is dorky and charming (she has a bright career ahead of her, already an Emmy nominee at the age of 15), and People’s Sexiest Man Alive Paul Rudd is doing his normal likable Paul Rudd-isms. Logan Kim, who plays one of Grace’s classmates, is a mixed bag, as he has some great comedic timing but also is given some very annoying one-liners that drop flat.

Overall, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is fine, and I’m sure fans of the original will have a blast. The trouble is it never keeps a consistent tone or builds momentum, and it’s the type of script that feels the need to have characters explain to other characters things that happened to them the scene prior, things we had just seen. By the climax I was more confused than I was engaged, and this was one busting that made me feel… nothing.

Critics Rating: 4/10

Sony Pictures

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