Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters Afterlife is a spooky comedy film set to be released in 2021. Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts reprise their roles from the predecessor movies in the legendary franchise, which also stars Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, and Paul Rudd. It is the fourth instalment in the Ghostbusters franchise, following Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989), all of which were directed by Ivan Reitman, who also serves as the film’s producer.
A single mother and her two children travel to a town 30 years after the events of the second film, where they learn about their grandfather’s hidden history and their connection to the original Ghostbusters. A third Ghostbusters film has been in the works since the release of Ghostbusters II in 1989, but has stalled owing to Murray’s unwillingness to commit to the project. Sony opted to develop a female-led reboot after cast member Harold Ramis died in 2014, and it was directed by Paul Feig and released in 2016. After Feig’s picture became polarising among fans of the original films and was a box office flop, Jason Reitman planned a sequel to the original films.
The new cast members were unveiled in July 2019, while the original cast had signed on two months later. Filming took place from July through October of this year.
On August 23, 2021, during the 2021 CinemaCon event in Las Vegas, Ghostbusters Afterlife was screened unannounced. It will be released in the United States on November 19, 2021, four years after it was originally slated to be released in July 2020 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mixed to excellent reviews were given to the picture, with acclaim for the acting, Reitman’s direction, and nostalgic tone, but criticism for its fan service.
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As a result, “Ghostbusters Afterlife” is as soft and toothless as you’d expect from a revived studio product in which the primary protagonists are kids and Paul Rudd plays a love interest. They’re all cute and have huge, easy-to-read eyes, which are perfect for widening in pretended astonishment or mock fright when various ghosts appear. The cartoonish apparitions, for their part, vary from adorable to PG-13 snarly, and include a roly-poly metal muncher, a pair of slathering hellhounds, and some puffy, gurgling monsters with demonically cheery smiles designed for toy stores and maximum memories.
Jason Reitman creates adult comedies and dramas that are easy to watch, fluid, and deliver their chuckles softly while taking their sanctimony seriously (“Up in the Air”). He’s emotional, like his father, but his father’s comedies are brasher, more downmarket, more high concept: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito star in “Twins,” for example. On “Afterlife,” the Reitmans shared the responsibilities, with Ivan serving as producer and Jason sharing script credit with Gil Kenan. Regardless of the father’s effect on the boy, one of the finer aspects of this collaboration is that, while the grownups in the narrative teach the kids what to do, the focus remains on the action rather than the life lessons.
Franchise sequels rely on consistency and delivering exactly what the audience expects. “Ghostbusters Afterlife” delivers on that contractual promise: ghosts exist, and ghosts are busted. There isn’t a single genuine surprise in the film by purpose. Instead, the film prominently references past episodes in an attempt to construct a self-sustaining franchise mythology that would support future sequels (and so on). It has classic devices, ghosts, and goo, as well as familiar faces and Ray Parker Jr.’s unbreakable theme music. Phoebe and her Scooby Gang, like the younger Reitman, fight ghosts on all fronts.
From the return of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man to the refashioning of the chunky, hungry Slimer into this film’s chunky, hungry Muncher, everything is in service of Easter eggs or recycled components, including, of course, someone asking, “Who you going to call?” “Afterlife” has no identity beyond such backward gestures and forward stares. Reitman’s past work has been openly anti-nostalgic, notably “Young Adult” and “Tully,” which he co-wrote with Diablo Cody and Charlize Theron. However, “Afterlife” makes one wonder what Reitman retained from his prior films and how much studio influence was employed to mould this film into a financial hit.
Ghostbusters Afterlife is chock-full of inside jokes and allusions to the classic Ghostbusters films.
There are hundreds of little moments in the film that are clearly intended to make die-hard Ghostbusters fans cheer. But the most thrilling aspect of the film is how it appears to usher in a new generation of Ghostbusters fans. Reitman pays respect to his father’s series with Afterlife’s unending run of callbacks, but the new characters are where Jason’s own unique style of filmmaking shows through. As a result, it feels appropriate that Ghostbusters Afterlife is at its best when it’s about young individuals figuring out their position in the pop-culture universe that their forefathers created.