FILM REVIEW — Who you gonna call for a fun Ghostbusters sequel?

Published 12:02 am Friday, March 22, 2024

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“Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire”

Columbia Pictures

Directed by Gil Kenan

Starring Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, McKenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts and Kumail Nanjiani

Rated PG-13

2 ½ Stars

I was in New York City with my teenage nephew last month and was somewhat surprised to learn one of the must-see stops on his list was the Ghostbusters Fire Station in Tribeca.

One of the firemen standing outside noted they see a steady stream of tourists wanting to take a picture standing on the Ghostbusters logo that has been helpfully painted out on the street.

With that anecdotal evidence as proof, I think there will be a lot of people heading to the movie theaters this weekend to catch “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.” I can’t say this is a great new entry into the franchise, but the good news is the film does wisely relocate the story back to New York City, which makes it feel much more like a proper Ghostbusters film.

“Ghostbusters” fans should enjoy this serviceable movie that is filled with lots of ghosts and ghouls and plenty of nostalgic callbacks to the original series. Most importantly, it leaves the door wide open for yet another sequel.

I mean, if a Hollywood producer needs a feel-good adventure with a nice mix of science fiction and comedy, who else you gonna call?

The previous film, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” was a relaunch of the franchise, with Carrie Coon and her teenage kids (McKenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard) taking over their Spengler family ghostbusting legacy. A besotted science teacher (Paul Rudd) joins them on the adventure.

Now they are all living in the Big Apple where they face off against a familiar bureaucrat (William Atherton) who wants to shut them down, as well as an all-powerful demon that has the power to literally freeze the entire city.

Familiar faces (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts) and familiar ghosts (Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man) show up to give the film a nice sense of nostalgia.

Some of these cameo appearances are fun, while others don’t add much to this bloated story. Simply put, there are a lot of characters here, and it’s difficult to keep track of what they are all doing, let alone care about what’s happening to them.

The exception to this comes from McKenna Grace, who gives the film some nice emotional moments with a supernatural crush subplot.

The special effects, which are a mix of computer generated and practical puppet monsters, are as solid as ever. More importantly, the film is pretty good at capturing the franchise’s sense of mischievous humor.

Paul Rudd is always a welcome addition to any movie, and even while Bill Murray only shows up for a few scenes, his winking performance is a lot of fun.

It all works well enough for the fanbase, except the main ghostbusting story doesn’t quite work. There’s a lot of superfluous stuff here, with far too many characters.

All of the story seems to have taken up space that should have been reserved for comedy. These latest films seem to be designed as science fiction adventures with comic touches, when they should probably be comedies set in a science fiction world.

Still, I liked many of the characters, and the comic moments that do happen are rather enjoyable. And I can’t deny that the nostalgia still gets to me.

I wish “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” had a better, more focused story, but as a placeholder until we see the inevitable next sequel, this latest film kept me amused all the way to Ray Parker Jr.’s famous theme song.

Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Orange Newsmedia. Sean welcomes your comments via email at