(director/writer: Gil Kenan; screenwriter: Jason Reitman; cinematographer: Eric Steelberg; editors: Nathan Orloff, Shane Reid; music: Dario Marianelli; cast: Paul Rudd (Gary Grooberson), Carrie Coon (Callie Spengler), Finn Wolfhard (Trevor Spengler), McKenna Grace (Phoebe Spengler), William Atherton (Mayor Peck), Patton Oswald (Dr. Hubert Wartzki), Kumail Nanjiani (Nadeem), Celeste O’Connor (Lucky), Logan Kim (Podcast), Bill Murray (Peter Venkman), Dan Aykroyd (Ray Stantz), Ernie Hudson (Winston Zeddemore), Annie Potts (Janine Melnitz), James Acaster (Lars Pinfield); Runtime: 115; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Jason Reitman, Jason Blumenfeld; Columbia Pictures; 2024)

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s time to put the long-running franchise to bed.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Brit filmmaker Gil Kenan (“Monster House”/”City of Ember”) co-writes with Jason Reitman (his father directed the original franchise film in 1984). The slow-moving story introduces a new Ice Age, as its plot point. It’s a much lesser pic than the beloved original.

This new version has the Spengler family back to NYC after being in rural Oklahoma.

It’s a safe, lightweight and tired sequel to the also not so good 2021 “Afterlife” version.

The new partner of Callie (Carrie Coon) is Gary (Paul Rudd). With them are her teenage kids, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (McKenna Grace). The family is still operating a Ghost-busting business. They again dwell at the former legendary Tribeca firehouse of her dad, and are still driving their iconic car.

The oldsters from former films are still around, like the wealthy businessman Winston (Ernie Hudson), who owns the building where the Ghostbusters dwell and the paranormal research lab; Ray (Dan Aykroyd), owns an occult pawn shop. Also around are the team’s secretary Janine (Annie Potts) and the famed Ghostbuster, Dr. Venkman (Bill Murray), but both with not much put on their plates.

Things matriculate when the playful nerdy street hustler Nadeem (Kumail Nanjiani) tries palming off to Ray an ancient orb belonging to his deceased grandmother. The occult metal object, powered by ice, prevents human beings from being enslaved by despots. In the hands of an evil spirit, Garraka, it releases the Ice Age and a return of ghosts. It’s now up to the Ghostbusters to save the world.

Lars Pinfield (James Acaster, Brit stand-up comedian) is stuck in a forgettable role as a scientist in the paranormal lab. Patton Oswalt plays Dr. Wartzki, a smart-ass scholar of the netherworld, who is the curator of obscurities at the New York Public Library. He also fares poorly in his undeveloped character role. But veteran actor William Atherton shines as the city mayor, telling Phoebe she’s underage to be a Ghostbuster.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s time to put the long-running franchise to bed. This version gives us nostalgia, a few scares and a few chuckles, but nothing new to get excited about.

REVIEWED ON 3/22/2024  GRADE: C+