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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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REVIEW: ‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ offers up continuity, but no comedy

Bustin’ makes me feel nothing in the latest sequel

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” is the latest in the decades-later sequels to 1984’s “Ghostbusters,” and the follow-up to 2021’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.” 

The film once again follows the Spengler family, plus some familiar faces (arguably too many), as they return to New York City to restart the Ghostbusting business, just in time to face off with an ancient spirit who wants to raise an army of the dead and freeze the world. 

The original “Ghostbusters,” as you may recall, was a fun and goofy sex comedy in which Dan Aykroyd has a wet dream about a ghost giving him a blowjob. In spite of this, it’s become one of the most famous comedy movies of all time, and it’s been extremely surreal to see audiences treat “Ghostbusters” like a serious franchise over the past 10 years. 

The psychotic reaction to the 2016 remake was baffling enough; questions of quality aside, it at least made sense as a remake, getting some SNL alumni to goof around with special effects and improv. Which, fundamentally, is what the original was: an uncommonly good SNL riff. 

But there was a frightening deluge of “Ghostbusters” freaks and fanatics who lit the internet on fire insisting that no, actually, “Ghostbusters” is serious business that deserves to be taken seriously, and it looks like these new movies agree. 

2021’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” isn’t a funny movie at all, but unlike the 2016 effort, that actually seems to be by design. Whereas “Answer the Call” (as the 2016 movie was later retitled) was just full of bad jokes, “Afterlife” was too shyly awestruck of the original to even attempt any jokes. 

Both “Afterlife” and “Frozen Empire” are infused with a kind of hushed reverence for the halcyon days of “Ghostbusters,” which is both uncomfortable to watch, and fairly inappropriate to the spirit of the original. 

For as much piousness as this movie has towards the original, it completely fails at capturing anything close to the spirit of why “Ghostbusters” was good in the first place. “Frozen Empire” has none of the weirdness, none of the comedy, none of the offbeat imagination that led to that movie becoming an unexpected classic. Instead, the film displays all the worst instincts of modern blockbuster filmmaking, with dull camera work, washed-out cinematography, celebrity cameos who are given nothing to do, generally witless dialogue (a whole scene is dedicated to Paul Rudd saying the lyrics of the “Ghostbusters” theme out loud, which is what this film substitutes for “comedy”) and an overemphasis on lore and mythology in lieu of, as the original did, telling an interesting story in its own right. 

This film wastes so much time on lore dumps and callbacks that it forgets to make its new ice-based villain even a fraction as intimidating or memorable as either Gozer or Vigo. I’d be more willing to roll with this movie’s lack of comedy if it succeeded as a straightforward adventure, but it’s so punishingly bland

Probably the most annoying thing here is that there are a couple of potentially interesting ideas buried somewhere within this cluttered mess of a movie. I like the concept of this new family unit trying to figure out their roles while also running the Ghostbuster business, and I could see these characters really thriving in a better, more focused movie, especially Phoebe. But the characters keep getting lost in the cavalcade of callbacks, each one more poorly motivated than the last; it gets to the point where Bill Murray just … shows up, because why not? 

There was potential here for a fun, self-contained adventure in the spirit of one of the cartoons, but if these movies are ever going to achieve that, they need to escape the suffocating bloat of their own history. And make these movies funny again, while they’re at it. 

This article was edited by Bailey Hobbs, Sara Winick and Abigail Turner. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks, Leta Lattin and Charlie Mennuti. 

movies@theeagleonline.com 


Section 202 host Gabrielle and friends go over some sports that aren’t in the sports media spotlight often, and review some sports based on their difficulty to play. 



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