Ghostbusters: Afterlife ‘returns to the original while

In a directorial father-son relief pass from Ivan Reitman to Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air”), “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is undeniably nostalgic and quite sweet, while who-ya-gonna-call straight to the 1984 original. And yet, with its focus on the teenage heirs to that legacy, the film simultaneously resembles both the Disney Channel version of “Ghostbusters” and a long overdue sequel.Happily, the kids are the talented Mckenna Grace (“Gifted,” “The Handmaid’s Tale”) and “Stranger Things” Finn Wolfhard, the grandchildren of Egon Spengler (originally played by the late Harold Ramis).

Egon has died, leaving a remote farmhouse for his estranged daughter (Carrie Coon), who, for financial reasons, considers the move to be timely.Upon moving in, Phoebe (Grace) and Trevor (Wolfhard) discover a lot of strange things going on in the city, starting with all those inexplicable earthquakes, and some nifty artifacts among Grandpa’s possessions. Phoebe possesses a scientific acumen far beyond her years, while her brother in most of her simply falls in love with one of her new classmates (Celeste O’Connor).Mom, meanwhile, strikes a somewhat unexpected relationship.

with one of the children’s teachers(Paul Rudd, seemingly everywhere at once), adding to an adult component that produces a few laughs but frankly travels in the passenger seat for much of the movie. (Coon is a talented actress, but there’s a bit of the “E.T.” mom syndrome here, where she can’t see all the quirks that come up with her.)Cunningly, the film (written by Jason Reitman, Dan Aykroyd and Gil Kenan) establishes a dense mythology that connects this flurry of spectral antics from the 1980s, while incorporating visual touches reminiscent of “Ghostbusters” of the past.

There are also unrelated funny jokes, like the character of Rudd finishing summer school simply by presenting wildly inappropriate horror movies.In some respects, “Afterlife” represents a rather conspicuous exercise in fan service, following the strange tantrum thrown by some in response to the female version of the concept that debuted five years ago. While that movie was flawed, the reaction seemed completely out of control, elevating “Ghostbusters” to an exaggerated level of “You ruined my childhood!” exaltation.

The eldest of the Reitmans is serving as the film’s producer, which, with Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson promoting the film, is not the only link to its Reagan-era roots. Still, this is one of those movies that doesn’t cross streams but plunges into a deep well of goodwill, hoping to bridge the gap between those who actually saw the original in a theater and the children and grandchildren who, hopefully, they will identify with the youthful protagonists.

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