Sony Pictures movie poster for Ghostbusters Frozen Empire featuring ghostbusters and Ectomobile in icy conditions

As a sequel, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is serviceable, but nothing special. It picks up where Ghostbusters: Afterlife left off, with the next generation of ghostbusters– including Callie (Carrie Coon), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) Spengler, and science teacher Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd)– settling into their ghostbusting duties while also navigating the drama of relationships and teenage angst. They’ve left Oklahoma in the rear-view to be fulltime ghostbusters in NYC, living and working out of the the iconic Tribeca firehouse where it all began. And of course, they still ride around in the specially-equipped Ectomobile, trapping ghosts and depositing them in a containment unit that may be nearing capacity. The plot is a dud, but the movie gets a spirited lift from McKenna Grace as Phoebe, and from Kumail Nanjiani who plays a sarcastic slacker named Nadeem who must discover his ‘inner fire’ before a phantom god puts the world in a deep freeze.

The icy stuff doesn’t make much sense, and the stakes never feel that high. But the movie does have a soul– and it comes from the bond that forms between teenage Phoebe and a teenage ghost named Melody (Emily Alyn Lind) who died in a fire years ago and is trapped in this dimension. Phoebe and Melody are both outsiders, struggling to find their place in the universe.

Frozen Empire has the mix of adventure, heart and humor that we’ve come to expect from the Ghostbusters franchise (five films and counting since 1984). It just doesn’t quite find the right balance of old and new, people and plot. Nostalgia buffs will appreciate the role reprisals of original ghostbusters Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) and receptionist-turned-ghostbuster Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts). But there’s only so much you can stuff into a sequel that also brings back the Slimer, the Library Ghost, and those mysterious marshmallow creatures, the mini-pufts. The movie is okay, but ultimately less than the sum of its parts.

If up to me, I’d find a way to team Phoebe with the gals from the 2016 all-female reboot. That’s who I’d call when there’s something strange in the neighborhood.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is in theaters now. Rated PG-13.


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