A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ghostbusters II is the 1989 sequel to Ghostbusters. There isn't much to shock tweens and up in this mock-horror film. There are numerous ghosts running rampant through NYC, but it's played for comedy over scares (like when the Titanic disembarks). Still, ghosts are the "bad guys" and get eliminated with laser guns by a crew of wisecracking guys. At one point a baby is kidnapped by a ghost and a sinister spirit tries to inhabit his body. The baby is rescued, of course, but there is another real person, hilariously portrayed by Peter MacNicol, who wants to steal the baby in order to woo its mother.
What's the story?
The once-famous Ghostbusters are long-forgotten and bankrupt when the film begins. When some mysterious slime surfaces they gladly trade their gigs singing at children's birthday parties for their real ghostbusting duties. Dr. Peter Venkman's (Bill Murray) ex-girlfriend Dana (Sigourney Weaver), now a single mom, is forced to confront the paranormal after a strange slime incident involving her 9-month old baby, Oscar. Coincidentally, Dana works for the Met as a restoration artist, where she encounters a mysterious portrait of a long-dead madman. His evil spirit inhabits the artwork, waiting for his chance to come alive again. When he takes an interest in baby Oscar, you know who Dana's gonna call.
Is it any good?
Murray's in his prime here as one of four fearless slime fighters in a sequel that is just about as funny and entertaining as the original. GHOSTBUSTERS II was partially written by two of its actors: Dan Akroyd (who played Dr. Raymond Stantz) and Harold Ramis (Dr. Egon Spengler). It's hard not to laugh at anything Bill Murray says or does. He has a sly, wry, comic genius that makes even the simplest plot (which is what gives this sci-fi adventure its charm) a little more complex.
This hodgepodge of occult, paranormal, and plain bizarre elements means all kinds of zaniness is free to ensue -- especially when you serenade Lady Liberty with a little Motown. It's a nice little send-up to the world of psychics and other New Age types, as well, who take themselves far too seriously. It can even put some of those paranormal shows like Ghost Hunters and Lisa Williams: Life Among the Dead in perspective for kids who can get caught up in the hype. However outdated the special effects might seem in today's light, the movie works as a not-so-scary comedic action film.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea of ghosts and what people believe and don't believe about them. Are they real? Are they imagined?
You can also discuss the "mood slime" the Ghostbusters discover and if there's a metaphor in there for real life: negative energy begets more negativity, and a positive outlook begets more positive outcomes. When have you found this to be true?
How does this sequel compare to the original? Are sequels ever better than the first movie?
- In theaters: June 16, 1989
- On DVD or streaming: June 29, 1999
- Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver
- Director: Ivan Reitman
- Studio: Sony Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.