'Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire' is a good-natured, but thin film - Catholic Courier
Celeste O’Connor, Ernie Hudson, Finn Wolfhard, Paul Rudd, James Acaster, Mckenna Grace, and Carrie Coon, star in a scene from the movie “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.” Celeste O’Connor, Ernie Hudson, Finn Wolfhard, Paul Rudd, James Acaster, Mckenna Grace, and Carrie Coon, star in a scene from the movie “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.” (OSV News photo by Jaap Buitendijk/Columbia)

‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ is a good-natured, but thin film

NEW YORK (OSV News) – Toward the end of “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” (Columbia), the fifth film in a supernatural comedy franchise that dates back to 1984, Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman says to a group of other characters, “I knew you had one more dance in ya!” Sadly, a different verdict might have to be rendered about the venerable series itself.

As the original movie approached its 40th anniversary, director Jason Reitman and his co-writer Gil Kenan crafted a promising reboot in the form of 2021’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.” In following up on that picture, with Kenan now at the helm, the two maintain the good-natured, joshing tone of their first collaboration and ease off on its off-color humor. But their sequel feels thin at best.

Quartet of wraith wranglers return for the sequel

This time out, the quartet of wraith wranglers to whom we were introduced in the last installment, Mom Callie (Carrie Coon), teen siblings Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Callie’s boyfriend Gary (Paul Rudd), have set up their headquarters in the New York City firehouse from which their Reagan-era counterparts operated. And business is brisk.

By way of set-up, original character Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), who now runs a shop specializing in curiosities, acquires an intriguing brass orb inscribed in an ancient language. Its seller, Nadeem Razmaadi (Kumail Nanjiani), explains that, like the less interesting objects he’s also anxious to sell to Ray, the sphere belonged to his recently deceased grandmother.

Testing reveals that the artifact gives off serious supernatural vibes. The reason for this, as we eventually learn, is that it imprisons the spirit of a demonic pagan god who, if released from confinement, has the power to plunge the world into a new ice age.

As we build up to the inevitable showdown with this embodiment of evil, Phoebe once again takes center stage, as she did in “Afterlife.” When circumstances compel Callie and Gary to bench her from the team, she’s annoyed, depressed and defiant.

While brooding on her wrongs, Phoebe crosses paths with Melody (Emily Alyn Lind), the ghostly victim of a long-ago tenement fire who is surprised to find that Phoebe isn’t at all afraid of her. Based in part on their shared love of chess, Phoebe and Melody quickly become friends. But this mysterious visitor from the beyond may not be all she seems.

Mature elements in ‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’

“Frozen Empire’s” implicit lessons about the value of teamwork, the importance of family harmony and the need to balance young people’s desire for freedom with prudence are perfectly in order. And while there’s less coarse comedy than in Reitman and Kenan’s previous script, enough mature elements remain to make this a dicey choice even for older adolescents.

Although the proceedings are acceptable for most grown moviegoers, they’ll find that the freshness and buoyancy of “Afterlife” are noticeably lacking. Maybe it’s time for “Ghostbusters” to yield the dancefloor after all.

The film contains much thoroughly stylized violence, oodles of occult gibberish, a glimpse of partial nudity, a few sexual references, a couple of mild oaths, about a half-dozen crude terms and occasional crass language. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Tags: Movie Review
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