It’s been 37 years since the original Ghostbusters movie, during which time there has been a sequel (1989’s so-so Ghostbusters II), a reboot (2016’s fun Ghostbusters) and an animated TV series (The Real Ghostbusters).
2021’s addition to the supernatural comedy franchise is clearly aimed at those who loved the original movie and kids who want a few minor scares with their adventure, and it delivers on both counts.
Directed by Jason Reitman – son of original Ghostbusters director Ivan – this is something of a sequel (ignoring the events of the recent reboot) that follows a mum named Callie (Coon) as she takes her two children, Trevor (Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Grace) to live at her estranged father’s remote farm after he dies.
Phoebe is a geeky girl with an interest in science (gosh, can you guess who her granddad was?) and when she explores the farm she discovers her late grandfather’s notes, a PKE meter (the gadget that lights up when ghosts are about) and Trevor finds the old Ecto-1 car. Both will come in handy as it turns out their new home town, Summerville, has been experiencing regular earthquakes and it could be down to the presence of the evil Gozer (whom, if you remember, our original Ghostbusters messily contained back in 1984).
There are lots of references to the original two movies to entertain older fans, from appearances by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver (stay for the end credits scenes for her) to familiar supernatural stars such as Gozer, the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster. (Also watch out for Muncher, who is clearly a descendant of fan favourite Slimer).
But while this does deliver a lot of fan service, this is really a family movie aimed at kids and young teens, so lots of screen time is given to Wolfhard and Grace, as well as Kim as an aspiring Ghostbuster called Podcast. While Coon and Rudd – who plays Phoebe’s eccentric summer school teacher, showing his students videos of Stephen King’s Cujo and other 80s horrors in his lessons – are both terrific, the film belongs to the kids and they don’t disappoint.
Kim is funny and Wolfhard is great as the slightly awkward teen but it is Grace who holds the movie together and is the real joy here. She’s quirky, interesting and the kind of girl we all wish we’d been friends with at school – and in a scene near the end that will (thanks to clever use of old footage) tug at everyone’s hearts, she may even get you to shed a tear, too.
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Is Ghostbusters: Afterlife suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This is a supernatural comedy that begins with a character being chased and then dying, which may upset the under-11s.
Various ghosts appear, including Muncher and some mini marshmallow men, who are more likely to amuse than frighten, but there are some jump scares and a couple of monsters than younger viewers may be frightened by.
Kids may also find Keymaster, Gatekeeper and Gozer scary.
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