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Latest ‘Ghostbusters’ Movie Brings Back A Bit Of The Old Vibe

April 4, 20244 Mins Read

‘I’ On Culture

I went to Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire with the hope that it would be a worthy sequel to the first movie, made 40 years ago. Alas, no. But it is better than the woeful third film. I had no problem with Kristen Wiig as a scientist. I like strong women, but the other leads all were off the wall, and the plot was almost the same as that of the first. And then the Afterlife movie came along and was not great. This new film brings the Spengler family, along with teacher Gary Grooberstein (Paul Rudd), to New York, and that helps.

The film starts with Gary driving wildly through the streets chasing a ghost through the city with mama Callie (Carrie Coon) helping out as Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) assists and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) fires the proton pack. That leads Mayor Peck (William Atherton), you remember him as the jerk who forced the shutdown of the force field that led to the mess the first time around, to decide that Phoebe, at 15, is too young to join them, and he vows to shut them down.

That sets things up so Phoebe will rebel, joined by Melody (Emily Alyn Lind), who actually is a ghost vassal primed to betray them. Gary is a sort of father figure without any real authority who still is not really in a romance with Callie, although that would seem to be the reason he sticks around. Callie just worries and Trevor does not get to do much. Phoebe is the center.

The thing that sets everything in motion is when Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) gets involved. He winds up buying an artifact called the Orb of Garakka from grifter Nadeem Razmaadi (Kumail Nanjiani). This magically holds the essence of a really evil god and, of course, we know that somehow it will get loose. Enter Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) as the financier of a high-tech enterprise dedicated to paranormal research. And, of course, Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) drops in for a few moments.

You can probably work out the plot the rest of the way. Phoebe messes up a bit thanks to Melody, and the scientific nerds wind up releasing Garakka, and the family plus the old guys and a couple of friends wind up fighting the big battle. And, of course, showing up the mayor.

The cast is pretty good. Rudd does his lines well. He’s funny at times but not the key persona. Coons just worries, and Wolfhard goes along for the ride. Grace is the key character, and she does really well. If she hadn’t, the film might have fallen apart. Her scenes with Lind are touching, breathing a bit of extra life into things. Both young females are complex, wanting change but not knowing how to do it. Nanjiani works hard to steal the show. He has some of the best lines, a man only wanting some cash and turning into a hero and not happy at all with any of it. Aykroyd is good. He brings back the nostalgia of the first film and his tortured explanations of theory really bring back good vibes.

Murray is barely in the film. He manages a scene where he does some testing, ending up throwing pens at his subject, a PG reminder of some of the sleaze in the first film. It looks like he spent only a few days doing the filming, although he does get some good lines. Hudson, as always, is charming, and Annie Potts actually gets to suit up and fight. Her New York accent, again, is fun and a reminder of past days.

In many ways, the film references the first one. Yes, it’s cute and fun. The real question is whether or not the movie is worth seeing. Frankly, it’s borderline. Yes, it moves quickly. And there are some funny lines. And it’s nice to see the old timers. The pace is relatively quick.

On the other hand, it is very predictable. It constantly works hard to reflect the first film, so you know there will be a big, bad god to beat and also know that the heroes win so there can be yet another sequel. And this time there’s no real fun, goofball ending. The Stay Puft man is not smashing things down, and the Statue of Liberty doesn’t walk. Just a nasty shadow god.

But in an era when there are few normal films the whole family can enjoy, this one is OK. Not great, but fun.

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