November 15, 2021

CINEMA | Jason Reitman Chases 'Ghostbusters: Afterlife'

"Don't go chasing ghosts."
Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Jason Reitman | Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Sony Pictures / Bron Creative
Filmmaker Jason Reitman, son of original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman (still a producer), takes over the supernatural comedy franchise from his father in the nostalgic legacy sequel, Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Consider this direct follow-up a sort of two-hour-long elegiac tribute to both departed co-star/writer Harold Ramis (aka Egon Spengler) and the first two films.

Starring Mckenna Grace (clearly, a star) as Spengler's twelve-year-old scientist granddaughter Phoebe, Afterlife seems obsessed with absent fathers and legacies as the action is transplanted from mid-'80s Manhattan to rural Oklahoma as most have long forgotten the original ghost busting team. Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Logan Kim, and Paul Rudd co-star as Phoebe's broke single mother, rebellious older brother, lab partner, and seismologist teacher with each discovering their own relationship with the occult and ghosts from the past.

There's certainly a lot of fan service from a son fondly remembering his father's work. Reitman tries to resurrect certain elements and characterizations while introducing his own sense of family drama. However, none of it really works despite some fun performances, strong direction, and impressive technical effects. Afterlife very much feels like a mishmash of tones, legacies, and faded memories.

Scripted by Gil Kenan and Reitman, there's barely any familiar comedy apart from the expected cameos and references as the family dramedy slowly morphs into a more conventional kid-friendly adventure. Reitman seems most concerned with the production design and remembering every little gadget and detail from the original films. It distracts from the explanation of the thirty-decade absence of Spengler from the lives of the characters.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is an odd fit in the supernatural comedy franchise's legacy. It's certainly only a film/sequel the loving son of the original director could've made. While the heartfelt treatment of Ramis is affectionate, it also makes the characters and rehashed story feel so out of place and time.


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