My Inner Child Just Called From 1989: He Loves Ghostbusters: Afterlife!

Dept. of Spooks, Spectres, and Ghosts


Public Service Announcement: As a duly designated representative of the City, County and State of New York, I wish to inform you that this review contains no spoilers for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. There are, however, a lot of elements in the movie that are best enjoyed… unsullied. To cut to the chase: we enjoyed the movie here at Goggler. If you liked the original you should probably go see it before anyone ruins it for you. If you want to know a little more… then read on.

Nostalgia is a doubled edged sword.

We all appreciate seeing the icons and heroes from our youth resurrected in the present. That said, we’re always hoping they come back as a shiny new thing that adds to our enjoyment of the original (the first Michael Bay Transformers movie) and not as some shambling corpse that reminds us of our own impending death (the rest of the Michael Bay Transformers movies).

Ideally, the stories we grew up with can get a new coat of paint and appeal to a whole new audience. Ideally, it’s so we can share the things we love with younger generations. Cynically, it’s so studios can continue to mine existing concepts for money.

This is where nostalgia can also be a corrupting influence. Robbing us of new stories and new heroes, as resources are dedicated to maintaining the old, stifling anything seen as “new” or different. Why stump up the cash for an unknown, unproven idea when you can churn out remakes, reboots and requels for the stuff you already know has a built in audience?

So where does that leave Ghostbusters: Afterlife?

Does Bustin’ Still Make Me Feel Good?

Me at the beginning of Ghostbusters: Afterlife

It’s impossible for me to detach my thoughts on the movie from a lifetime of loving Ghostbusters.

I’ve known about Ghostbusters since I was definitely too young to watch it. I sent postcards in to the local TV station to try and win tickets to the Irish premiere of Ghostbusters 2 (I didn’t win). I went on to watch Ghostbusters 2 about 9 times on VHS in the year following its release. I had some “Real Ghostbusters” toys. I think I had Ray and Egon, but I know I had the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (not to scale) and the fun filled “Bad to the Bone” ghost.

Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate the magic of that first movie more and more. How Dan Akroyd’s original budget busting script had a future world filled with teams of Ghostbusters as opposed to the “smaller,” more focused tale that we got. How Bill Murray actually gives a shit. How the score (not the song) is instantly recognizable. Unlike anything else out there, it never resorts to being stereotypically “spooky.”

The performances, the lines, the effects, the lot. Lenny... lightning in a bottle.

Even the original team couldn’t quite capture that magic for the 1989 sequel. The odd retread from 2016 was fine, but didn’t quite do enough to distinguish itself (maybe they should have left in the musical sequence?).

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is not concerned with hitting the beats of the previous versions though. It is interested in reintroducing the iconography of the series but though the actions of its characters. Through a young girl, finding her way in the world by excavating her family’s history and legacy.

This Is Your Brain on Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Is Ghostbusters: Afterlife a loving update to a cherished franchise or cynical cash grab? 11 year old me says the former.
Me halfway trough Ghostbusters: Afterlife

As that girl, Phoebe, McKenna Grace absolutely carries the movie. Avoiding all the clichés you expected from a young actor playing a shy, nerdy character, as she explores the mysteries of her grandfather’s house. Carrie Coon delivers a great movie mom as she deals with abandonment and bankruptcy. Rudd stands in for every fan of the original movie if they found themselves caught up in a Ghostbusters adventure. All the cast are great, although some are a little underdeveloped, namely Finn Wolfhard as Phoebe’s bother Trevor, and Celeste O’Connor as his crush, Lucky.

But that’s ok when you see what you get in return.

As you can tell from the marketing, Ecto-1 is there. There is mystery. There are genuinely funny jokes, and some truly awful intentional ones.

There’s a character called Podcast (Logan Kim) who doesn’t feel immediately dated or intensely annoying (I may be biased).

Is it perfect? Not quite.

I might have preferred a threat that wasn’t quite so closely tied to the lore of the previous films.

I could have done with seeing a little more of the impact that threat has on the small town of Somerville, but again, that tight focus on the family more than pays off.

I could have done with a little less of the, let’s just say overtly nostalgic elements from late in the movie. They’re not bad. I just found that they derailed the momentum of what I had, until then, found to be an excellently paced movie.

The ending, however, saves everything for me.

I laughed, honestly laughed watching Ghostbusters: Afterlife. I cried. I cringed… but only just a little.

My inner child from 1989 fucking adored it.

Make sure you stay until the end of the credits.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is out in Malaysian cinemas on Thursday, December 2.

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

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