Are You Calling?

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By Paul Hall

Ghosts have long fascinated the populace. We’ve seen a variety of television shows and movies that center on the existence of ghosts and the paranormal. In 1984, we took that mix to another level as some of the most popular comedic actors came together with Ivan Reitman to create the fun and spooky Ghostbusters. Now, in 2021, we are treated to a new cast of characters and a new locale, as ghosts do exist outside the big city in Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Callie (Carrie Coon) is struggling to survive. She is working hard to pay the rent and support her two kids. Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) is a typical teenage boy, obsessed with the signal on his phone, his image and girls, while Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) is an outsider who is more interested in technology and how things work than people. When Callie’s dad passes, the family heads to small-town Oklahoma where the man who abandoned her resided. He left her everything, but everything wasn’t worth the money Callie hoped would be coming her way.

Her father was the guy who owned the dirt farm. The guy who the town thought had no friends or family. But who was he, and why was he weird?

As the family tries to rehab the property and make the best of their new surroundings, the kids start making friends by being themselves, Callie meets the local summer school teacher, Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd), and everything is shaking literally and figuratively.

The journey to a remote location versus New York City brings a different feeling of charm to Ghostbusters: Afterlife. It is a film that alternates between its love for the nostalgia of the original and establishing a new surrounding and new stars. It’s a delicate balance between the two that director Jason Reitman manages quite well, with a touch more focus on the old.

Coon is solid as usual. She never lets us down in her roles, and this is no exception. Wolfhard’s Trevor feels a bit underdeveloped and could have used more depth, but that may come in a sequel (and yes, there is a post-credits scene in this film). For me, the real revelation is in Grace’s performance. She has a long list of credits in a short period of time, but this role feels totally different for her. To embody Phoebe’s quirks and eccentricities the way she does and make them believable in this film is truly unique and special.

I wanted to love this film, but it comes up a bit short. In its efforts to connect the past with the present, the film sells the present a bit short. I wanted more development of the story for Callie, Trevor and Phoebe to make the film a stand-alone piece. That said, I’ll be in line for any sequel that might come down the pike.

Are you calling the Ghostbusters again? There are always new ghosts to catch and new areas to visit. Crossing the streams has worked to get me involved going forward. And I’m not afraid of these ghosts.

Paul’s Grade: B

Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Rated PG-13
Stars: Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Paul Rudd, Annie Potts
Director: Jason Reitman