SPOILERS!! Ghostbusters Afterlife is clearly a love letter to Harold Ramis, but, in my opinion, that letter reads "THPPTPHTPHPHHPH."
Ok, so picture it: I'm a rabid fan of the first three GB movies (1984, 1989, 2016) and I've gotten my ten year-old hooked on them, as well. We pick up pizzas, fries, and ice cream, and we're going to have THE MOST decadent viewing party at the drive- in movies watching the 2021 Ghostbusters addition to the franchise. It stars Paul Rudd! I'm excited for weeks. But, alas, I found it boring and totally off-brand (my son liked it). Like, incredibly dull- the anemic LaCroix version of the original Ecto Cooler flavor. The originals and the 2016 remake are all hilarious and fast-paced, featuring the best comic actors of their times, cramped in the heart of New York City, spooking and amusing us with adult humor and ridiculous, fun set pieces.
This one, on the contrary, is set in a shaky corn field in the middle of nowhere with a rando evil mountain nearby and a couple of outcast, sincere kids and their mom, whose whole personality seems to be resenting her absent, and now deceased, father, Dr. Egon Spengler. They're there because Dr. Spengler has died and left them his weird old house and dirt farm, and they've just been evicted from their apartment (again- unclear what the mom does/did for work- apparently few job prospects when you majored in bemoaning your deadbeat scientist dad).
We know from Stranger Things, E.T., Goonies, etc that the kids will figure out a way to solve everything, and in this case, they're solving the mystery of why the town keeps shaking, with the help of their TERRIBLE summer school teacher/seismologist, Paul Rudd. He's a sort of love interest to the mom, too, but after one pretty awkward date, they get posessed and then turned into demon dog statues, so unclear on their future. His character seems like the kind of guy who has a secret family a few states away and her character seems like the type who might fall for a guy with a secret family a few states away.
If you recognize those demon dog statues, it's because all the original GB baddies are back. Zuul ( she's the only original character who's been recast with a fresh, youthful version- I think it would have been cool to have Slavitza Jovan go ahead and show up in all her postmenopausal evil goddess glory, but she didn't), Gozer/ the keymaster and gatekeeper.
There are some miniature, adorably villainous versions of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man- and don't get me wrong- I might not like this movie but I absolutely want a Christmas ornament of these cuties.
In this universe, the 1980s events occurred and kids are aware of the Ghostbusters who saved the day and then faded away- but there is NO mention of any reincarnation or ghost hunting happening in 2016. None. Zilch. Almost like "lady ghostbusters" never happened, goddammit.
I have beef with the reception and popular impression of the 2016 Ghostbusters. It received bad reviews before it even came out, and was easily and often dismissed BECAUSE SEXISM. It's a genuinely weird, funny, entertaining movie. Like the 1980's originals, the chemistry between the goofball stars is the glue of the thing. This one just doesn't provide us that satisfying buddy ensemble thing. It's different with kids and slacker adults. It just is.
Other than that ENTIRE cast being dismissed, they brought back a lot of cameos from the earlier movies. No sign of Rick Moranis or Sigourney Weaver, unfortunately (she had a tiny cameo in the credits of the 2016 movie), but Annie Potts came back, as did the remaining living Ghostbusters (Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Ernie Hudson).
Finally, there is a very, very long holographic visitation by Harold Ramis, who played Egon, and who died in 2014. Mr. Ramis wrote the original two Ghostbusters movies, Stripes, Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, and more classic comedies and was a fucking funny writer. This movie is clearly a love letter to him, but, in my opinion, that letter reads "THPPTPHTPHPHHPH."
I guess a normal person would have watched Ghostbusters: Afterlife and come out of it saying "Well, the drive-in is awesome, the pizza was great, and the movie was fine or whatever," but I choose to be very perturbed.
I give this movie a 2 stab feminist review. The little girl (granddaughter of Egon) is a cute, smart, socially inept kid who loves science and tells the best jokes in the movie-the jokes are her way of making friends, and it works. She's cool and possibly on the spectrum. The mom- the other female character- is chill and funny-ish, but isn't a very well-formed character, and in her anger toward her missing dad/scientist, she came to loath science all-together, and, sorry, I just can't with anti-science sentiments right now. Mostly I'm just mad about how the MOST RECENT GHOSTBUSTERS WHO SAVED THE WORLD were ignored by this movie. TWO STABS.