"Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire" offers more nostalgia and fan service but less-than-great jokes

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024)

There’s nothing a "Ghostbusters" movie can do that could offend a mature person — no, not even casting four hilarious women for an IP reset. But what many decried Jason Reitman’s surprisingly lovely 2021 legacy sequel "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" for being is what actually befalls the scattered "Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire." At nearly every turn, pandering fan service trumps being its own ghostbusting adventure, making this family affair no more than adequate. 

Now that they are actual Ghostbusters, the Spengler family—mom Callie (Carrie Coon), son Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace)—plus science teacher Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), Callie’s boyfriend, has inherited the firehouse headquarters in New York City. Phoebe gets benched from ghostbusting, but of course, the Ghostbusters are family, not just a team. When an ancient artifact the size of a bocce ball comes into the hands of retired Ghostbuster-turned-collector Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), the whole city freezes over and unleashes some evil. 

"Ghostbusters: Afterlife" writer Gil Kenan directs this time with a script he co-wrote with Jason Reitman, and that reverence certainly carries over. On one hand, all of the setup is now out of the way, moving forward with a new ghostly adversary. The stakes should feel higher than ever with the threat of a second Ice Age, but more mythology does not make for an involving story or a formidable villain (even if he’s tall, dark, and horny). The most compelling thread finds Phoebe befriending the ghost of a 16-year-old girl (Emily Alyn Lind) who burned to death and now has unfinished business (hey, "Casper"). 

The best thing "Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire" has going for it is its likable cast. There is something comforting about seeing the original and the newer casts come together like a blended family to bust some ghosts. While Annie Potts, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson get more screen time than last time as Janine, Venkman, and Zeddemore, they don’t necessarily get great material to play with, either. It’s usually just awkward and clunky. Read the full review at GuyAtTheMovies.com

Grade: C +

Columbia Pictures released "Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire" (115 min.) in theaters on March 22, 2024.