Not only does the “Ghostbusters” sequel reboot “Ghostbusters Afterlife” (*** out of ****) recapture the whimsical hilarity of the original movies, but it also amounts to a family affair. Jason Reitman, who co-wrote and directed “Ghostbusters Afterlife,” is Ivan Reitman’s son, and Ivan directed the two Bill Murray “Ghostbusters” movies.

Furthermore, Ivan also served as a producer on the reboot. Apart from Harold Ramis, who died at age 69 in 2014, and Rick Moranis (alive but retired), everybody else reprises their original roles.

Despite quibbles, “Ghostbusters Afterlife” is more faithful to the franchise than the previous, uninspired, gender-flipped “Ghostbusters” (2016). Jason Reitman has kept the family legacy intact with “Ghostbusters Afterlife.” Anybody who enjoyed the supernatural shenanigans of the first (though not necessarily the second) “Ghostbusters” should relish this reboot.

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Reitman and co-scenarist Gil Kenan provide airtight continuity between “Ghostbusters 2” (1989) and “Ghostbusters Afterlife.” A refreshing, young, first-rate cast, lighthearted CGI visual effects, and polished production values distinguish this 124-minute, PG-13 rated franchise update. The Reitmans have shown good taste in their reverential treatment of the Harold Ramis character.

Appropriately, they portray Dr. Egon Spengler as an apparition now rather than an actual person. Don’t rush for the exits when the end credits roll or you’ll miss deleted footage of Harold Ramis from the 1984 “Ghostbusters.” One of the delights of “Ghostbusters Afterlife” is neither Kenan nor Reitman have tampered with the backstory of the franchise.

Predictably, though it boils down to “Ghostbusters: The Next Generation,” Reitman’s “Afterlife” focuses on Dr. Egon Spengler’s family. Unfortunately, Kenan and Reitman crank up their reboot with Egon’s demise.


During an explosive opening gambit, Egon meets his monstrous match in a humongous phantom that has been hibernating in a nearby defunct mining cavern. Later, we learn Egon abandoned his colleagues, Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray of “Stripes”), Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Ackroyd of “Doctor Detroit”), and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson of “Machete Joe”) after their ‘ghostbusting’ business went belly up.

Vanishing into the sprawling eternity of Oklahoma, Egon bought a secluded house in Summerville and prepared for a showdown with Gozer. Worshiped as a deity by ancient civilizations, Gozer was the Ghostbusters’ prime adversary.

Egon not only absconded with their iconic Cadillac ambulance Ecto-1, but he also took their equipment, including the Proton Blaster Packs, P.K.E. meter, and the ghost Traps. Now, holed up in a dilapidated white farm, in the middle of nowhere, Egon has wired up his entire property so it resembles a backyard version of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory.

The tragedy of Egon’s death is mitigated somewhat by the deafening fireworks during this encounter. “Black Hawk Down” Supervising Sound Editor Perry Robertson also provides nerve-racking jump scares when our protagonists wield the Proton Blasters.

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During the grand finale, when the original cast seals the continuity gap with “Afterlife,” you’ll know Jason Reitman got it right. Meantime, the amusing miniature-sized Marshmallow Men in their cute sailor suits are back creating pandemonium, too.

Dr. Spengler’s daughter Callie (Carrie Coon of “Avengers: Infinity War”) is a single mom with two kids. She has an unruly 16-year-old son Trevor (Finn Wofthard of “The Gold Finch”) and a precocious, 12-year-old daughter Phoebe (Mckenna Grace of “Malignant”), and they are all about to be evicted from their apartment for late rent. Conveniently, Egon dies, and Callie inherits his Summerville farmhouse.

Naturally, Callie hopes the sell the place. Once she arrives in Summerville and beholds the property, she resigns herself to staying until she can dig herself out of debt. Callie enrolls Phoebe in summer school and meets Phoebe’s teacher, Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd of the “Ant-man” movies), who runs a relaxed, laid-back class. Grooberson shows his students old horror movies like “Cujo” (1983), while he ponders a mysterious outbreak of earthquakes in the general vicinity.


Phoebe impresses him with her knowledge of geology. Phoebe is the spitting image of Egon. She wears his nerdy spectacles and has his curly hair. Predictably, Grooberson and Callie hit it off while the kids explore the farmhouse. Phoebe finds Egon’s P.K.E. meter beneath a chair. Later, she rummages through Egon’s secret basement laboratory, while Trevor discovers the Cadillac ambulance Ecto-1 parked under wraps in the barn.

The automotive genius of the family, Trevor gets the Ecto-1 running in no time. Phoebe and her summer school pal Podcast (newcomer Logan Kim) take a Proton Blaster out for field trials. In the film’s first, slam-bang sequence, Phoebe and Podcast accompany Trevor on a joyride in the Ecto-1. Phoebe sits in a seat that slides sideways out of the right rear passenger door.

When they cruise into town, they spot a ghost named Muncher chewing up a fire hydrant. Basically, the kids destroy parts of Summerville in their efforts to capture Muncher. Imagine Callie’s alarm when the police notify her about her children’s antics. Waiting for Callie to bail them out of jail, Phoebe uses her one phone call to chat with Dr. Raymond Stantz. Little does Phoebe realize her father’s colleagues are bound to descend on Summerville.

Incredibly enough, “Ghostbusters Afterlife” would have qualified as a good movie whether Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, and Ernie Hudson had reprised their roles. After Callie and her kids move into Egon’s old quarters, the film adopts a “Goonies” (1985) vibe. Basically, Phoebe, Podcast, and Trevor behave like “The Goonies.” As Phoebe, Mckenna Grace steals the show with her charismatic performance.

Although Slimer is on hiatus, the CGI ghosts are every bit as outlandish as they were in the classic “Ghostbusters” movies. Olivia Wilde appears in an uncredited cameo as the evil Gozer. Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts have cameos, too. A goofy séance of sorts, “Ghostbusters Afterlife” gives this supernatural franchise a new lease on life.

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