• Wendy Shreve


Anyone under the age of forty has an advantage. Odds favor that group of filmgoers never saw Ghostbusters (1984) in a movie theater. Chance also leans towards many of that age having not seen the original at all. But for those who have seen the first comedy, expectations are high.

For those who haven't watched Ghostbusters, this newest attempt at reinventing the story for younger audiences, Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021), has its moments. The setting has shifted to the fictional town of Summerville, Oklahoma, at one time a mining town. Early on the fracking jokes begin as well as constant reminders that the newly-relocated family has settled in the middle of nowhere. They have inherited a large, dilapidated from their late relative, former Ghostbuster Egon Spengler.

We also learn that Spengler's daughter; his mirror-double in female form, a.k.a. granddaughter, and his grandson know nothing about Dr. Spengler's Ghostbuster past. Soon, otherworldly mayhem brings unexpected surprises.

McKenna Grace, unrecognizable from earlier roles, plays the centerpiece of the story, Phoebe Spengler, the granddaughter. She may be young but her wisdom oozes through her delightfully nerdy pores. In time, independent Phoebe recognizes she needs others to help her solve a paranormal mystery. Her cohorts include her brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), an equally geeky but funny schoolmate, Podcast (Logan Kim) and Trevor's friend, Lucky (Celeste O'Connor).

When Phoebe and Trevor's mother, Callie (Carrie Coon) and Phoebe's science teacher (Paul Rudd) begin dating, the kids must take on the roles of adults. A purposeful metaphor for the future? Possibly, yet the idea tempers the potential fun: an underused Rudd and overused Coon have an awkward chemistry. Laughter often becomes secondary to family and childhood angst.

Plusses, in Ghostbusters: Afterlife such as extolling the virtues of science, the striking landscape and cameos by recognizable character actors, help catch the eye. However, the plot stalls. The scares also have less impact if the viewer has any familiarity with the previous incarnations.

Director Jason Reitman and his co-writers Gil Ken and Dan Ackroyd have undertaken a mighty task: to bring a fresh perspective to an old favorite. Ghostbusters After Life does have a spirited cast that do their best to shake the status quo. Unfortunate that what had been a lovable comedy for adults has now become an unlovable dramedy for kids.

PG-13 for minimal scares, mundane sexual double entendre and imperiled mini-Stay Pufft marshmallows.

Now showing at a theater near you. Locals: Entertainment Cinemas, South Dennis.

Earlier reviews not seen on this website (before May 20, 2021) are available on or my previous blog site,

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