Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Ghostbusters: Afterlife Oozes Nostalgia But Needs A Fresher Take

Gen X-ers have been getting lots of attention from Hollywood studios these days as popular franchises of the golden era keep coming back to the screen. Star Wars, Star Trek, Scream, Jumanji, He-Man, The Muppets, The Karate Kid, Indiana Jones... you name it, they have it. And if not, they are probably already planning on it. There are the reboots, the re-imaginings, the tributes and the sequels, all in an attempt to drown the ‘forgotten generation’ (of which Red Dot Diva is a proud member), with a flood of nostalgia.

In that aspect, GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE is not short on the feel-good nostalgia, as Jason Reitman, son of “Ghostbusters” director Ivan Reitman, pulled out all the stops to win the hearts of the original fans. The 2016 all-female Ghostbusters remake by Paul Feig created a lot of backlash that consisted of mostly racist and sexist complaints. Red Dot Diva liked the 2016 movie, and it was empowering to watch the cast of wonderful comedians kicking ass as women ghostbusters. Unfortunately, it goes to prove that society is still not ready to accept when a script is gender-flipped.

There are no such thorny issues with GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE. The sequel is likeable, family friendly and provides a great starting point for new fans of the franchise.

The movie begins with Callie (Carrie Coon), who is still hurting from being abandoned by her father. Not being able to make rent, she decides to move to her late father's house in Summerville with her kids Trevor (Finn Wolfhard, providing a Stranger Things connection) and the nerdy, socially awkward Phoebe (McKenna Grace). Even though the house is a dilapidated building in the middle of nowhere that isn't worth anything, Callie tries to make the best out of their situation. Science teacher Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd, who is incidentally PEOPLE's 2021 Sexiest Man Alive) helps fuel Phoebe's curiosity about the weird seismic occurrences in town, while also acting as Callie's love interest.

Between making new friends like Summerville's fledgling social media influencer “Podcast” (Logan Kim), exploring the town's mysterious old mine, and discovering a secret lab under their house, Trevor and Phoebe find out the identity of their grandfather. Turns out, he is one of the original members of the Ghostbusters. Grandad has been trying to fight ghouls on his own for decades after figuring out that Summerville is the epicentre of an impending apocalypse.

Watching Paul Rudd breeze through his scenes with his innate charm is always enjoyable. Usually, kids characters can be so annoying. Even the Stranger Things characters get on Red Dot Diva's nerves after awhile. So, it was a relief that McKenna Grace was able to carry the movie through as Phoebe, the lead female protagonist. Red Dot Diva favourite scenes were those with Logan Kim's “Podcast”. His precociousness and exuberance were just right, not to mention, he has such cute, pinchable cheeks.

For the most part, GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE is a fun adventure, played straight. Yes, Red Dot Diva felt the unabashed emotional connection to the PKE meter, Ecto-1, the Mini-Pufts, the familiar score and the cameos, but the incessant nostalgia-baiting felt a bit much towards the last act. A fresher take on the Ghostbuster legacy and a wittier script, would have elevated the movie to the level of awesomeness.

Will GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE be able to call the newer generation to the same kind of fervour as the Gen X-ers? Time will tell.

PS: Do stay for the mid-credits and post-credit scenes for teasers of what might be up next for the Ghostbusters franchise.

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