“Clifford The Big Red Dog” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.
There are nostalgia trips, then there’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” which would undoubtedly win an award for most member berries per minute of screen time, if such a prize existed. Do you remember the important things from the 1984 and 1989 “Ghostbusters” movies like the uniforms, the proton packs and the Ecto-1? Do you remember less important things like the Nestle Crunch bar or that Egon Spengler’s hobby was collecting spores, moles, and fungus? Do you remember the original cast, including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, and Sigourney Weaver? Well, fear not if you forgot any of it. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is chock full of reminders. So much so that I will admit getting a bit ticked off at the umpteenth reminder of something from a previous movie—most notably the first one.
The reason for my annoyance is that when “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” isn’t basking in the glow of yesteryear, it has a good story to tell. We start off with a fairly respectful handling of Harold Ramis’s real life passing and say goodbye to beloved Egon. At least, he’s beloved to us. He’s not so beloved to estranged daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) or to grandchildren Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), who he didn’t know. Nevertheless, he left his Oklahoma farmhouse to them and the financially strapped family go there to see what kind of money can be made off of it.
Turns out that Egon left a lot of debt. He also left behind his PKE meter (remember that?) so that Phoebe can find it and start digging into who her grandfather was and learn more about him. While she’s exploring and taking “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” from one nostalgia trip to the next, Trevor applies for a job at a burger joint to get next to a girl he likes named Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), and Callie begins a romance with Phoebe’s summer school teacher Gary (Paul Rudd), who shows the students “Cujo” while he researches recent seismic activity in the area.
I love the original “Ghostbusters” from 1984. Right now as I write this I’m listening to my vinyl record of the soundtrack as “I Can Wait Forever” by Air Supply fades out and ends side one. I played “Ghostbusters” with my brother and friends when I was a kid in the ‘80s. I’ve owned the movie on VHS, DVD (twice), and Blu-ray. And yup, when it comes out on 4K I’ll get that too. My point here is that since I love the movie, I really did not need to waste my time going down memory lane the way “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” does way too much. The movie feels bogged down and longer than it should be because of it. That said, when the fresh story with the new characters kicks into gear, it’s a good one and well worth watching.
“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” will be available on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K on its own, and the 3-movie collection of “Ghostbusters,” “Ghostbusters II,” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is available on DVD and Blu-ray, with the 4K version in special packaging that looks like a ghost trap pending. That version will include a digital copy of 2016’s “Ghostbusters,” which serves as a good example of how to not make a “Ghostbusters” movie. Or any movie, really. Regardless of how you see it, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is worthwhile to Rent it.
Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover and author of the novel “Takedown,” which is available on Amazon, iTunes, and more. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.