Ghostbusters Afterlife is an emotional, heartfelt sequel

When their estranged and absent grandfather dies and their family is evicted, Phoebe and Trevor move with their mom to the abandoned farmhouse that was left to them and soon discover that their grandfather was none other than Egon Spengler of the Ghostbusters and that there is a terrifying force manifesting under their feet.

I’ll be honest: I think that Ghostbusters is one of the greatest comedies ever made. Ghostbuster II is also a great movie, in my opinion. I absolutely loved The Real Ghostbusters as a kid, and I even enjoyed the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot.

When I saw the trailers for Ghostbusters Afterlife, I was a little leery as it looked like a kiddified version of Ghostbusters. After seeing it, I am delighted to report that Ghostbusters Afterlife is not only a good movie, it’s an emotional sequel with a solid theme and storytelling with characters I enjoyed and enough nostalgia to choke a terror dog.

What Ghostbusters Afterlife does that Ghostbusters 2016 doesn’t is that it leans heavily into its theme of legacies, family, and future. It drives the entire plot. Characters are continually wondering about what was and, as the movie plays out, it turns its attention to what may be. That’s what this movie is: It’s a nostalgic, bittersweet look back over its shoulder before it marches confidently into the future.

McKenna Grace is the real star of the movie and she carries it brilliantly as Egon’s granddaughter. Not only does she resemble the late Harold Ramis, but she embodies his characteristic nerdiness to an uncanny degree and she does this with such quiet confidence, making the effort look effortless. Never once does she come off as annoying or overly awkward, but rather her social weirdness seems natural. She actually reminded me of real life student’s I’ve taught in the past.

Finn Wolfhard is also in the movie, but – through no fault of the actor – the movie barely justifies his inclusion other than “We need one who can drive.”

By the time that the final scene of the movie played, I fully admit that I was actually crying actual tears. The conclusion is beautiful and incredibly well executed, a perfect ending to this movie and, along with the after credits scene, embodies everything that the movie was saying about past and future.

In the Ghostbusters pantheon, it’s better than Ghostbusters 2016, about on par with Ghostbusters II, and not as good as the original, but given that the original was lightning in a bottle, I was completely expecting that. All the same, I give Ghostbusters Afterlife my most heartfelt and happiest recommendation.

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