Film Review: Nostalgic Fun with “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire”

ghostbusters frozen empire movie film 2024 - poster one sheetThe Ghostbusters franchise has always struck a chord in the cultural zeitgeist, a whimsical family drama about the supernatural with just enough scares to lift it above the usual droll family-friendly fare. The first film came out in 1984 and starred some of the best comedians of the era, including Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis. Ghostbusters told the story of three parapsychologists kicked out of their university-funded ESP lab who set up shop in New York City, offering a ghost removal service. A 1987 sequel followed, then a poorly received 2016 reboot starring Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig. Fortunately, we got a second reboot of the franchise with 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, this time starring Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard and Mckenna Grace. It was a return to form and great fun.

Three years later, the Spengler family has returned to the iconic New York City fire station as they seek to keep the ghostbusting business viable. When their attempt to capture a stray entity in the opening scene causes some destruction, the Ghostbusters are put on notice by hostile NYC Mayor Peck (William Atherton). Worse, 15yo Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) is told she has to step away from the family business until she’s 18, causing her great angst.

What’s most delightful about Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is that many of the original characters are woven into this new story. Ray Stantz (Dan Ackroyd) now runs a psychic junk shop with his amusing teen sidekick Podcast (Logan Kim) and both Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) show up to help out. There are additional cameos that will cause die-hard ‘busters to point at the screen and say “wait, isn’t that…”

The story gets rolling when Nadeem (Kumail Nanjiani) shows up at Ray’s junk shop with a box of ancient artifacts from his grandmother. A hustler just seeking to make a few bucks from these trinkets, he has no idea that one traps an evil spirit powerful enough to split open the tenuous barrier between the living and the dead. When Ray examines it with some of his old Ghostbusters gear things start to go awry, the Spenglers learn about it, and soon everyone’s involved in trying to assess the artifact and its ancient warnings. On Ray’s recommendation, they consult with dead language expert Dr. Hubert Wartzki (Patton Oswalt), who works in the “real library” hidden below the New York Public Library…

ghostbusters frozen empire movie film 2024 - publicity still

Learning about Ancient Languages, from “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire”

While the rest of the family is off having adventures, disheartened Phoebe heads to the park late at night and meets a young ghost named Melody (Emily Alyn Lind). They quickly hit it off, somewhat ironically given Phoebe is a ghostbuster, and she invites Melody to visit the fire station. Does Phoebe have a bit of a crush on Melody, even as Podcast remains quite interested in Phoebe? It’s poignant if a bit trite as a troubled teen and new best friend story element. Meanwhile her brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) keeps reminding his mother that he’s now 18 and a man, then predictably struggling with every task he is expected to accomplish. Comedy gold, right? Sort of.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is all very light and breezy, with solid comedic performances – Nanjiani is particularly hilarious as Nadeem – great visual effects and endless homages to the original films. The overall feel is surprisingly similar to the original movies with some witty updates from the earlier Afterlife film as befits a good franchise. A few elements might be frightening for the youngest in your crew, but overall this is a fun film to kick off Spring at the cinema. And yes, take the entire family!

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dave taylor vertigo film swirl backgroundPlanet Dave is run by Dave Taylor, who has been writing about film, cars, games, and his lifestyle for many years. He's based in Boulder, Colorado and assures readers he's only occasionally falling into a gravity well or temporal distortion field.

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