Review: Grace, Rudd make “Ghostbusters” sequel worthwhile

Logan Kim, Mckenna Grace, and Finn Wolfhard in Ghostbusters: Afterlife / Columbia Pictures

If bustin’ makes you feel good as the old Ray Parker Jr. theme song to “Ghostbusters” goes, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” may be your jam.

However, if you don’t adore the original movie or were looking for something a little bit different with this franchise that was a major hit in the 1980s but has been relegated to golden oldie status these days, your mileage may vary with Jason Reitman’s homage to his father Ivan’s smash hit.

The younger Reitman crafts a solid family movie between all the nostalgia for the original series, but unfortunately for me, those callbacks get in the way of an otherwise solid story about love, family, and legacy.

How much you enjoy this film likely will depend on how much you appreciate that nostalgia or how much you don’t.

What’s great about the film is McKenna Grace, who plays Phoebe Spengler, the nerdy but endearing granddaughter of original Ghostbuster Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), and Paul Rudd, who plays Phoebe’s new teacher Gary Grooberson, an amateur parapsychologist and a fan of the original Ghostbusters. Their performances carry the movie and really are a joy among a lot of nostalgic clutter.

Both light up their scenes with their charm, intelligence, and humor that makes this trip down nostalgia lane worthwhile even if it’s a bit overdone. Grace actually has some fairly hilarious “dad” jokes in the movie.

Logan Kim also provides some fun moments as Phoebe’s classmate and sidekick, Podcast.

Paul Rudd in Ghostbusters: Afterlife / Columbia Pictures

The rest of the cast gave fairly pedestrian performances with Carrie Coon as Callie, the estranged daughter of Egon, and Finn Wolfhard (“Stranger Things”) as her son and Phoeb’s brother Trevor. The family moved to Egon’s estate after their home was foreclosed.

Ghostly occurrences begin to occur which leads Phoebe to finally discover who her granddad was and what she and her family and friends must do to ward of another incursion of the demon Gozer, featured in the original movie. Gozer is the focus of worship of a cult located in their new hometown of Summerville, Okla.

Original Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson make appearances as well as Sigourney Weaver. Old scenes of Ramis, who died 2014, are used in the movie as well as his likeness. The movie has mid- and post-credit scenes.

The film’s pacing might be a bit slow for some, but overall I had good time meeting the new characters as well as revisiting Ghostbusters lore of the past. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is by no means a must-see film, but overall it’s a fun time at the movies.

(PG-13) 2 hr. 4 min.
Grade: B-

  New in Local Theaters

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (watch trailer) / (PG-13) 2 hr. 4 min. / AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, Skylight

King Richard (watch trailer) / (PG-13) 2 hr. 24 min. / AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, Skylight

Classic Corner – Niagara (7 p.m. Saturday)

Marilyn Monroe in Niagara / Twentieth Century Fox

“Niagara” is a nasty bit of film-noir, directed by Henry Hathaway, featuring Marilyn Monroe just as she was becoming a star in 1953.

Monroe soon would go on to scale the heights of Hollywood stardom in romantic comedies like “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “How to Marry a Millionaire” but as enjoyable as those romps are, she’s even more compelling in this thriller as femme fatale Rose Loomis.

The film, set at a resort area near Niagara Falls, is the story how her jealous husband George (Joseph Cotton) turns the tables on Rose and her lover Patrick (Richard Allan), who are planning to kill him.

Twists and turns abound in the film with a plot that is somewhat reminiscent of points in the 1959 classic “Anatomy of a Murder,” just turned on its head. The movie, filmed in Technicolor. is tawdry as the best noir’s are, but the photography is gorgeous.
Monroe and Cotton are a combustible pair, walking that edge of love and hate, angst and desire.

We watch their story through the viewpoint of Ray (Max Showalter) and Polly Cutler (Jean Peters), a couple on a delayed honeymoon who get mixed up in this sordid affair when they find Rose and George are staying in the honeymoon cabin intended for them. They not only have to accept lesser accommodations, but are drawn into the wicked web Rose and her lover are spinning.

The movie sizzles with passion, and Monroe’s “it” quality that made her an icon is on full display. The movie plays at 7 p.m. Saturday on Turner Classic Movies.

Christmas in Connecticut (9 p.m. Wednesday)

Barbara Stanwyck, Sydney Greenstreet, Dennis Morgan, Una O’Connor, and S.Z. Sakall in Christmas in Connecticut / Warner Bros.

“Christmas in Connecticut” along with several other “screwball” comedies of the mid 1930s through the mid 1950s set the template for all the Hallmark, and Lifetime Christmas-themed romances that now run 24/7 from late October through New Year’s Day.

Many of the new movies borrow as well as combine aspects, plot points, situations and characters from classics movies of the golden age of film to produce their holiday fluff.

Directed by Peter Godfrey, “Christmas in Connecticut” is a riot that features the impeccable Barbara. Stanwyck as columnist for “Smart Housekeeping” magazine during World War II, but she is a fraud.

Instead of being a happy country homemaker, who could put Martha Stewart to shame, she’s actually, a single city girl, who is not only pulling the wool over the eyes of her audience but also her publisher, pretending to have a husband, child, and farm.

When said publisher Alexander Yardley (Sydney Greenstreet) proposes or rather demands that she entertain him and war hero Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan) at her farm for an old-fashioned Christmas, Stanwyck must rely on her wits and her friends to bail her out of the impossible situation.

Stanwyck and Morgan have great on-screen chemistry while Greenstreet and fellow character actor S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall always make every movie they are in that much better.

The movie plays at 9 p.m. Wednesday on Turner Classic Movies as a Thanksgiving eve warmup to the Christmas season.