Saturday, November 27, 2021

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

We can now offically put the 2016 gender-flipped Ghostbusters reboot (a.k.a. Ghostbusters: Answer the Call) behind us, and move on as if it never happened, and enjoy this threequel to the 1984 classic Ghostbusters and its somewhat disappointing 1989 sequel, Ghostbusters II. It features original cast members Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Bill Murray in "special appearances," and even enlists the actual ghost of Harold Ramis – albeit with the assistance of archival footage, CGI and Bob Gunton (the warden in The Shawshank Redemption) as a body double. Mainly, however, it's a vehicle for a relatively unknown cast, with the exception of Paul Rudd (lately People magazine's "sexiest man alive") and Finn Wolfhard of It and Stranger Things. Oh, and let's not forget Oscar winner J.K. Simmons, whose character comes back from the dead just long enough to say one line before being slit from guggle to zatch by good ol' Gozer the Gozerian.

I beg your pardon. You might have no idea what I'm talking about. Assuming, of course, that you've been living in a bunker since 1983 or earlier, Ghostbusters is the brilliant 1980s comedy that featured Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis and Hudson as four guys who used ray-guns to hose down ghouls and specters all over New York City, which was on the point of a paranormal apocalypse. It also featured Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts (who both make brief appearances in this flick) as well as Rick Moranis (who, alas, doesn't), and culminated in a showdown with an androgynous Sumerian god atop a creepy high-rise building, assailed by slimy revenants, dog-like demons possessing the bodies of Moranis and Weaver, and a terrifyingly cute, giant Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man. This movie's rampaging marshmallows are tinier but no less vicious, and the ghostbusters are mostly a group of kids who discover a few gizmos left behind by Ramis's character, Dr. Egon Spengler, after his death.

Since the events of GB2, apparently, Spengler became estranged from his fellow ghostbusters and his family. Skip to the present day, when his broke daughter (Carrie Coon) and her two kids (Wolfhard and a female "young Sheldon" type played by Mckenna Grace) are being evicted from their apartment in the city, so the only place left for them is Egon's abandoned dirt firm in Oklahoma. Joined by a couple other local kids and a science teacher (Rudd), they start to investigate how the town's daily tremors might somehow be connected with an impending ghost apocalypse, which explains why Egon went AWOL all those years ago. He's been trying to hold back Gozer's return. But one thing leads to another and by the end, it's all hands on deck to keep Gozer from unleashing hell on earth. Again.

All in all it's a fun movie, with some slow parts to develop the creepiness and give the characters time to accept what's going on around them. They do accept it, surprisingly smoothly, although I still can't remember what happened to the uncooperative sheriff (played by Bokeem Woodbine). There's a lot of fun action in it, good character based comedy, and a certain emotional warmth that might moisten a cheek or two (on your face, dummy) toward the end. And of course, it builds up to a spectacular climax. Be advised, there's not only a bonus scene in the middle of the end credits, but a second one at the very tippy-tail end, hinting at another sequel which, to spite the 2016 movie, I'm going to call Ghostbusters IV.

Three Scenes That Made It For Me: (1) Podcast (don't ask, he's one of the local kids) comes up with an outside-the-box strategy for liberating the kids' ghostbusting equipment from a police evidence locker. Hint: "Muncher" seems to be a relative of the original movie's "Slimer." (2) A plague of marshmallow men gradually leads Rudd to realize that his late-night trip to Walmart isn't going to end well. (3) The mother of all jump scares happens, I won't say when. After all these years and who knows how many creepy movies, it still got me.

Bonus scene: Any time a character (mostly Grace or Coon) calmly accepts the fact that Egon's ghost is communicating with them. Without a line of dialogue like the painfully obvious (but never spoken) "Oh my God, I'm spending time with grandpa's ghost," Grace observes out loud that two whatsits are missing from a gizmo, and a drawer shoots open revealing replacement whatsits. She says, "Needlenose pliers," and the lamp turns to illuminate one sticking out of a jar. This casual acceptance of magic, even in its daftest forms, is one of the charms of this entire franchise. I really do hope they cook up another sequel.

One more thing ... I noticed that the music in this movie was really interesting, quality stuff. For what it's worth.

No comments: