Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Ghostbusters: Afterlife Movie Poster Image
 Popular with kidsParents recommend
Playful paranormal reboot offers funny frights for families.
  • PG-13
  • 2021
  • 124 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 17 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Themes of family, friendship, forgiveness, and redemption, as well as courage, curiosity, perseverance, self-control, and teamwork.

Positive Role Models

Phoebe is a wonderful role model: a self-confident young scientist with ability to regulate her emotions and stay calm in dangerous or potentially upsetting situations. The other three kids use knowledge and skills to battle supernatural creatures and show an immense amount of bravery -- but it does involve driving without a license, disobeying parents/authority figures, and racking up quite a bit of property damage.

Diverse Representations

Both teen and tween boys and girls defy stereotypes: Girls are brave, calm, confident, intelligent. Boys show emotion, creativity, vulnerability. Black characters are authority and/or aspirational figures.

Violence

Some ghosts are silly but have menacing abilities. Other supernatural creatures and moments are more frightening, on par with special effects from the original 1984 Ghostbusters; comedic moments help break up the intensity. References to ritualized violence (virgin sacrifices).

Sex

Glimpse of teen girl in bra while she's changing clothes. A couple of shielded sexual references ("third base," "getting to know each other more formally"). Kissing. Two characters later say "did we?" and "I think we did," implying that the kissing led to something more. Attraction and dating between two sets of characters. Mentions of being a virgin, in context of virgin sacrifices, without explanation of exactly what the word means.

Language

Language includes "a--hole," "hell," "we're screwed," "damn," and "s--t." "Oh my God" used as an exclamation. The word "bone" used to allude to sex.

Consumerism

Original Ghostbusters had notable product placement of certain snack foods, and they're winked at here. One scene takes place in a Walmart, and Baskin-Robbins is prominently placed, indicating additional product placement. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult character makes a couple of jokes about drinking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ghostbusters: Afterlife reboots the beloved Ghostbusters franchise as a frighteningly good comedy adventure about kids ridding a town of ghosts. This installment takes place decades after the events of the original and was written to appeal to kids (including a self-possessed tween girl scientist leading the charge), who don't need to have seen the original to enjoy this one. But longtime fans will be rewarded with a basketful of Easter eggs and cameos from all of the original living Ghostbusters: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts (Egon/Harold Ramis died in 2014). Count on seeing ghosts both funny and fearsome; keep in mind that special effects have improved since 1984, and what didn't scare you as a kid might be more frightening through the lens of modern technology. There are references to virginity (without an explanation of what that term means) and a couple of other sexual insinuations that will likely go over most kids' heads. You can also expect a few swear words ("a--hole," "s--t").  Still, this is definitely a more family-friendly film than the original, with themes of friendship, forgiveness, and redemption. Watch through the end of the credits for an extra treat.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAurelius206 November 21, 2021

Is this really a Kids movie???

Kids Movie, hmmm you be the judge...


Here's my review of the film w/o trying to give away spoilers but there will be a few.

1.) In the original Ghostb... Continue reading
Adult Written byGortos November 24, 2021

Promotes pedophilia

The scene showing a young teenage girl changing her clothes promotes pedophilia. This is lewd and should not ever be shown. This is not a family film. It is ext... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byR3NAIC November 21, 2021

The best ghostbusters sequel

As a fan of ghostbusters, this is probably better than the girl version they made. I loved the movie and its storyline. I thought there would be more curses in... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byDoctorTribulation November 23, 2021

My Rating: Interesting

I'd honestly give it a good rating, but there is swearing and I'm sure it wouldn't be appropriate in school.

What's the story?

In GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE, siblings Trevor (Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (McKenna Grace) move to a small Oklahoma town with their mom, Callie (Carrie Coon), to take over their late grandfather's crumbling farm. When unusual activity starts happening around town, Phoebe's science teacher, Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd), tells her how current events seem to relate to the paranormal events of New York City in the 1980s. When a supernatural presence tries to communicate with Phoebe, she starts to understand her family's mysterious past.

Is it any good?

The Ghostbusters franchise crosses streams to find new life as a family film that's frighteningly good fun. For anyone who remembers how the original '80s horror comedy shook pop culture like a ginormous Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man stomping through New York, it may have seemed like too much to hope for that a new version could match that magic (especially after the underwhelming 2016 reboot). And yet, Ghostbusters: Afterlife pulls it off. Writer-director Jason Reitman -- son of Ivan Reitman, who directed the 1984 classic -- grew up with this franchise. With Ivan now in the producing role and (according to Jason) sitting right next to his son on set, the duo prove to be the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper, truly re-creating the special feeling of an '80s comedy while adding a modern-day spin that fits with today's sensibilities. 

While pulling back from the original's eyebrow-raising banter and behavior, this kidventure still respects its elders. The 1984 film was about four scientific misfits who don't quite fit into society but believe in themselves when no one else does and, through their courage and ingenuity, save the world. Here, the same premise is reignited: Four diverse kids come together to follow a similar path. The lead character in the ensemble is Phoebe, whose logical brain is a social hindrance (as she starts her first day of summer school, her mother jokingly calls out "Don't be yourself!"). But she's undeterred in her approach to life: She's comfortable in her own skin, and she ain't afraid of no ghosts ("overstimulation calms me" she coolly states while blasting a particularly hungry apparition named Muncher). The score, the lighting, the camera angles, the humor, the throwback references, the cameos, the script -- everything comes together perfectly to create the tingly feeling that we're watching Ghostbusters meets The Goonies, with a touch of Gremlins (without the parts that often worry parents). When it comes to the impossible challenge of rebooting a beloved, iconic comedy, the Reitmans can say "We came, we saw, we kicked its ass."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Ghostbusters is an iconic film and why it has endured. How do the Ghostbusters: Afterlife filmmakers reward fans of the original while introducing a new story for a new generation? Kids: How would you reimagine your favorite movie for a different audience?

  • How does Phoebe demonstrate self-control? Do you consider her a role model? Why, or why not?

  • How is the "fish out of water" idea used in Ghostbusters: Afterlife? Why do you think that theme is used so frequently in screenwriting? 

  • This movie is like Ghostbusters meets The Goonies, but the language is significantly toned down from those '80s classics. Why do you think the writers eliminated most of the profanity? Why do you think they included any at all? Do you notice when characters curse, especially if they're kids? Do you notice if they don't? Does it impact your feelings about the film? 

  • How do the kids demonstrate courage, perseverance, and teamwork? Why are these important life skills?

Movie details

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