It’s Officially Time to Stop Calling the ‘Ghostbusters’ (2024)

‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ puts the franchise on very thin ice — and suggests that this may be the moment to gracefully retire this IP for good

Forty years ago,four men put on uniforms, came up with a catchy logo — a startled specter in a red circle with a slash going through it, no big whoop — strapped on some proton packs and saved New York City from an evil deity holed up in a penthouse. They were brave, they were bold, they were smartasses and, we can’t stress this part enough, they weren’t ‘fraid of no ghosts. It’s not a Stay Puft Marshmellow Man-sized leap to say thatIvan Reitman‘s originalGhostbusterschanged Hollywood blockbusters. The idea of combining the cleaner elements of a gross-out comedy with horror, action and other summer movie thrills pretty much reset the board. We’ve been living in a cross-the-streams world ever since.

There are film franchises that have been around for longer than the misadventures of these paranormal investigators, and are still going strong-ish:Star Warsis coming up on its 50th anniversary and continues to colonize the pop cultural landscape; theAlienfolks are about to release theirseventh moviethis summer and have a TV show on deck; don’t get us started on James Bond. But theGhostbustersseries still feels very tied to its original moment, and while the fandom has remained strong, it hasn’t aged or adapted nearly as well as its multi-chapter multiplex peers. A lackluster sequel in 1989 slowed the impetus for more movies right away. A few animated series over the years (as well as one happy toride the brand name’s coattails) came and went. When the Great IP Ransacking of the 2010s began in earnest, an all-female reboot featuring a new generation ofSNLsuperstars was born in order to capitalize on the beloved property, and …it did not go well.

Which is why we gotGhostbusters: Afterlife,a 2021 “return” to basics that was just blatant fan service in the form of a feature-length film. The daughter and grandchildren of Egon Spengler — R.I.P.Harold Ramis— move to his house in Oklahoma and encounter supernatural shenanigans. The kids’ teacher and some fellow students help them fight malignant spirits. The proton packs and the Ectomobile get trotted out. So do the remaining spirit-of-’84 O.Gs. The ghosts, they did indeed get busted. Jason Reitman took over the directorial duties from his father Ivan, who passed away four months after the film’s premiere, and the whole thing very much feels like a son paying tribute to his dad while ticking off franchise boxes.

And now, like the original, the attempt to “properly” restart this series get its own weak sequel. Directed by cowriter Gil Kenan,Ghostbusters: Frozen Empirefollows the Spenglers as they move to New York, having settled into the ol’ firehouse headquarters and keeping the family tradition alive. Callie (Carrie Coon), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) are back. So is Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), their former teacher-turned-stepdad. Ditto Lucky (Celeste O’Connor) and Podcast (Logan Kim), their classmates who moved to the city as well. And, of course, Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Winson Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) and their old receptionist, Janine (Annie Potts). Did we mention that Mr. Dickless himself, Walter Peck (William Atherton), is once again stirring up sh*t as well?

Plus there’s a scientist (James Acaster) working at a paranormal research center. And a librarian (Patton Oswalt) who specializes in both folklore and plot exposition, giving context to the movie’s opening section that takes place in 1904. And a hustler named Nadeem (Kumail Nanjiani), who sells Ray — now running a curio shop downtown — an old glyph-covered orb that contains a millennia-old demon but may be the key to stopping said demon should the evil one escape his tchotchke prison (which, spoiler alert, he does). And Melody, a ghost who plays chess with Phoebe and has her own connection to all of this. The deepening friendship between these two young women, one of whom is alive, is very much coded as romantic, though not enough to ruffle the feathers of hom*ophobes or, perhaps more pertinently in the eyes of the movie’s corporate parents, forbid it from being shown in China.

Did we forget anybody? Probably.Frozen Empireis jam-packed with characters old, new, borrowed and, in Melody’s case, literally blue. We’d joke that you need a scorecard to keep up with an ensemble that seems to exponentially grow every 15 minutes. But honestly, even that wouldn’t help explain why some of them seem to disappear during certain important exchanges then suddenly reappear a few scenes later, get stuck in side plots that we hesitate to call plots at all, and get jammed together for a climax that feels like it’s being rewritten in real time. At a certain point, the big bad guy shows up at a vape shop that shares the nickname of a key protagonist, dispatches with the clerk in a case of mistaken identity …then arrives at the actual protagonist’s house one second later. So did he already know where the dude lived but, like an good ancient hellspawn, wanted to keep the youth from picking up bad habits? When continuity and plot logic are AWOL in your movie, who ya gonna call? Not these folks.

It’s Officially Time to Stop Calling the ‘Ghostbusters’ (2)

Frozen Empiregets its subtitle, by the way, due to the otherworldly villain’s ability to unleash “the death chill,” which causes everything to instantly freeze over. It’s a great excuse for the movie’s one impressive set piece, in which a dark cloud slowly makes its way to Coney Island and quickly envelopes Manhattan. (It’s in the trailer. Consider yourself $20 richer.) We wonder if that same power was behind the overall coldness and disinterest displayed by virtually every talented actor onscreen; other than Aykroyd, who admittedly displays a characteristic glee at being in his comfort zone here, nobody seems to want to be there or going through these motions again. Our best advice is to bring eyedrops and apply them regularly, so you won’t blink and thus miss Bill Murray’s brief appearances. We don’t think bustin’ makes him feel good anymore.

That 1984 movie hit upon such a winning recipe for popcorn-cinema fun that a million movies have tried to replicate it ever since, and most of them failed. You needed the specific chemistry of those actors, that brilliantly anarchic director, those now-affectionatly-cheesy VFX and the sense of something unique being concocted before your eyes. It’s not familiarity that breeds contempt forGhostbusters: Frozen Empire.It’s contempt that breeds contempt, because this particular nostalgia train has now run out of track. This movie ends with “For Ivan,” a touching tribute to the gonzo comedy pioneer that started it all. Maybe the best way to honor his memory would be leaving this franchise alone. Hang up the proton packs. Take the hotline phone off the hook. Better to cherish your memories of past matinee glories than keep resurrecting the ghosts of the past and ending up with nothing but chilly receptions and hot air.

From Rolling Stone US.

It’s Officially Time to Stop Calling the ‘Ghostbusters’ (2024)


Who told you to stop cutting Ghostbusters? ›

Peter Venkman : [to First Cop] You tell him to stop cutting? First Cop : Yes, I told him to stop cutting. What are you doing? Peter Venkman : What's it look like we're doing here?

What is the Ghostbusters slogan? ›

No spook, specter, or haunt will ever be safe again.

Is Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire kid friendly? ›

The movie features a lot of special effects and some of the characters from the original 1984 Ghostbusters. But because of its violent and scary content, this isn't a family movie.

Who is Garraka? ›

Garraka is the main antagonist of the 2024 supernatural comedy film Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, the fourth main installment of the Ghostbusters franchise. He is an ancient demonic cryokinetic deity, who is capable of controlling the climate to the coldest of temperatures (or Absolute Zero).

Who got sued for Ghostbusters? ›

Lawsuit. Shortly after the film's release, Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker Jr. for plagiarism, alleging that Parker had copied the melody (primarily the bassline) from Lewis's 1983 song "I Want a New Drug".

Why did Ghostbusters 3 never happen? ›

Ivan Reitman, the director of the movies stepped down as director for a possible Ghostbuster 3 movie, and then he claimed to be a producer for the 3rd movie. Then Harold Ramis died in 2014, which pretty much killed the chance for a third movie because they can't replace him.

What was Ghostbusters almost called? ›

As the title "Ghostbusters" was legally restricted by the 1970s children's show The Ghost Busters, owned by Universal Studios, several alternatives titles were considered, including "Ghoststoppers", "Ghostbreakers", and "Ghostsmashers".

What is Ghostbusters 1 called? ›

Ghostbusters, the first film in the series, is a 1984 sci-fi comedy film about three New York City scientists. After they are fired from Columbia University, they start their own business investigating and capturing ghosts.

Is Ghostbusters 2 OK for kids? ›

The ghostbusters revive their business following a resurgence of supernatural activity in New York. While the overall tone is comic, very young children may find some scenes too scary.

Why is Ghostbusters rated 12? ›

This rating is primarily attributed to mild language, sexual innuendos, and notably, some genuinely frightening moments throughout the film.

Is Ghostbusters appropriate for 13 year olds? ›

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire has a PG-13 rating for “supernatural action/violence, language and suggestive references.” Feels pretty accurate. The 2021 movie, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, was also rated PG-13, so if your kids were comfortable watching that one, they should do well with Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire as well.

What does Bill Murray say about Ghostbusters? ›

While Murray didn't go into much detail about what had changed since the initial pitch session, he did describe the end product as "a whole different movie" with only "a few great scenes in it." A third entry centered around the OG team of professional spirit exterminators never materialized, "because the second one ...

Why did they cut the dance scene in Ghostbusters? ›

It was making the rhythm a little too goofy, in a weird way, and it was hurting our story a little bit … but it was Chris Hemsworth doing this amazing dance sequence!” Though he hated to lose the scene, Feig found a compromise: “We refurbished it and put it in the end credits, where we could use so much more of it.

What did Ray say to Gozer? ›

Dr. Raymond Stantz: Gozer the Gozerian... good evening. As a duly designated representative of the City, County and State of New York, I order you to cease any and all supernatural activity and return forthwith to your place of origin or to the nearest convenient parallel dimension.

Why was Ghostbusters controversial? ›

Controversy. Ghostbusters received criticism on social media following word of Feig's involvement and the all-female cast, which some felt was a "gimmick".

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Ray Christiansen

Last Updated:

Views: 5923

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Ray Christiansen

Birthday: 1998-05-04

Address: Apt. 814 34339 Sauer Islands, Hirtheville, GA 02446-8771

Phone: +337636892828

Job: Lead Hospitality Designer

Hobby: Urban exploration, Tai chi, Lockpicking, Fashion, Gunsmithing, Pottery, Geocaching

Introduction: My name is Ray Christiansen, I am a fair, good, cute, gentle, vast, glamorous, excited person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.