Your review: (***1/2)
Now playing in Washington and other theaters.
There’s something here. There always is. Ghostbusters: Afterlife — sequel to the 1984 comedy that starred Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson — is an intriguingly fun retro throwback to a bygone era, rousing laughs featuring incredibly funny old buddies and awesome old ghosts.
Yet too many of the old ghosts of its youth try too hard to push an agenda and are quickly forgotten. The original film, underwritten and broad comedy wise, gave its stars four zany stories each, and while a lot of the jump-cuts on this one are clunky, the comedy stays on point and silly. It’s a nice enough middle-of-the-road revival for a kind of medium-sized movie crowd.
This one could have used more give and take and more character depth. It’s as silly as it is slow-moving, it’s sometimes wobbly and confusing. It makes you never believe in ghosts. In any case, it’s like this: Three years after New York City was irradiated by a supernatural force, and its eternally possessed spirits are back.
The group is back — Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis and Hudson. This time around, the four ghosts are tasked with killing each other to prevent a devastating outbreak of the terror plague. John Belushi, Kurt Cobain, Andy Kaufman, Frank Sinatra, Orson Welles, Peter Sellers, Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, Truman Capote and most often the late Bill Paxton, have all been bumped from the original roster. Bill Murray’s Dr. Peter Venkman must not have made it this time.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife inverts the original by having the ghosts work against the government. This series is known for meta-humor but it’s much more domestic this time around. Also, Dan Aykroyd is now a writer, funny when he shouldn’t. In true Ghostbusters fashion, this film is as much a love letter to ’80s cult comedies as it is a tribute to the original film.