Mckenna Grace in 'Ghostbusters: Afterlife'

Ghostbusters: Afterlife Brings Nostalgia, Tears, and a New Life to the Franchise

4.5/5 Munchers

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Ghostbusters: Afterlife comes to us from Jason Reitman, son of the original director Ivan Reitman. And it feels like a return to the world of nostalgia that has become the legacy of the Ghostbusters themselves. While I am a fan of Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, I will say that watching Afterlife and having that connection back to the original movies raises the emotional stakes and makes Afterlife just work.

Focused on the estranged family of Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), the film takes place in Summerville, Oklahoma, where Egon fled to live on a dirt farm after abandoning the Ghostbusters and leaving his daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) when she was just a baby. But when Callie and her children, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (McKenna Grace), fall on hard times, they take to Summerville to live in Egon’s farm and pack up some of his belongings to try to sell for money.

The breakdown of this movie is incredibly similar to the original Ghostbusters from 1984 but that’s the design of it. It’s meant to bring us back into that world from the 80s even so that those events are history and documented even though the younger characters in the movie don’t really know what happened (which is a fun commentary on how we view historical events versus how the younger generations deem their importance).

But what works about Afterlife is Phoebe. The entire movie is filled with fun characters and a wonderful new crew to take us on this journey (and future ones if they want) but Phoebe is the heart that connects it all back to Egon, Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Winston Zeddemore.

Phoebe is essentially a mini-Egon. While Callie doesn’t really care about science and even scoffs at it at times, Phoebe embraces her love of it and is constantly experimenting, even has glasses just like Egon’s despite not knowing that he was her grandfather. But as she learns about the Ghostbusters and learns about what her grandfather did, she knows that she’s like him and that heart drives the movie forward.

It’s filled with amazing performances from Finn Wolfhard (who has his own shared connection to the Ghostbusters movies thanks to Stranger Things) and Celeste O’Connor. Paul Rudd obviously understands the comedy of the movie and functions as a mix of Louis Tully as well as the history lesson that Phoebe and her friend Podcast (Logan Kim) need. Speaking of Podcast, I would truly lay my life on the line for this small boy who has a podcast about the supernatural that has only one subscriber but that doesn’t stop him.

To keep the mystery and the joy of Ghostbusters: Afterlife alive, I won’t get into spoilers but I will say that the movie knows exactly how to tug on your heart in the best way and I found myself crying multiple times over and it is worth it to be back in the world of the Ghostbusters once again. After all, who you gonna call?

(image: Sony Pictures)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.