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JASON REITMAN'S NOSTALGIC 'GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE'

Title: GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE Year: 2021 Rating: **1/2

The whole "Mary Sue" comparison is dated... a talented youngster with a built-in knowledge of everything who can do no wrong, right off the bat... but in GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE the token super-girl in the late Harold Ramis's late Egon's antisocial granddaughter Phoebe is not only the best character, she's the only one who really seems into the movie that director Jason son-of-Ivan Reitman has attempted to make...

A retro-driven Spielbergian adventure set in a modern day yet 1950's-style small town, with one of everything from a school to a diner to a hardware store to a jailhouse to a dusty main street, and Carrie Coon as Egon's abandoned daughter feels extremely not at home...

Paul Rudd shows Cuju to his classroom in Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Having inherited stranger-dad's rural farm and with a chip on her shoulder so big, she doesn't want to fit in anywhere, even after being handed the perfect man... who could have been the grounding-with-sarcasm Bill Murray replacement in Paul Rudd, a science teacher named Gary Grooberson... but with all Rudd's proven/built-in talent, his goofy last-name's the only "quip" that really lands... 

In fact there are hardly any jokes at all, instead setting up the GOONIES-like kids (including an Asian boy sidekick) as so science-geeky their mere observations feel intended to qualify as surrogate punchlines; and McKenna Grace's Phoebe tells actual bad jokes as a way of communicating. Meanwhile her older brother Finn Wolfhard is no help, spending so much energy warming up to the sheriff's cute daughter, he (like mom) seems stuck in a different movie altogether...

The original Ghostbusters (including ghost-Ramis) and McKenna Grace in Ghostbusters: Afterlife

By the end, when original surviving GHOSTBUSTERS Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson show up... in a rushed third-act that crams everything the deliberately slow-paced, exposition-filled buildup had purposefully left out... it's like The Three Stooges cameo in IT'S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD: former legends standing in one spot addressing their own presence instead of fitting into the overall plot-line...

One that, following the original's sexy Gozer goddess and her twin monster dogs (as well as a Slimer clone and mini "Stay Puft Marshmallow Men" ravaging like GREMLINS in a supermarket), gives the impression that AFTERLIFE is primarily Jason Reitman's visual valentine to his director dad, the late Ramis and late composer Elmer Bernstein — yet the tragedy isn't what's unoriginal but what ultimately feels so incomplete and uninspired. 

Action in GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE
McKenna Grace in GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE
The Three Original Ghostbusters in Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Two original Three Stooges in Mad Mad Mad Mad World
McKenna Grace in GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE
Action in GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE

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