‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ Review: Something Weird, Multiplied

How many spirits can “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” fit in a firehouse? This overstuffed, erratically funny entry in the 40-year franchise crams in four main characters from the original 1984 blockbuster, six characters from the 2021 Oklahoma-set spinoff, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” and introduces three new occultists along with an assortment of ghosts, poltergeists, horned phantoms and miniature marshmallow men. At one point, a dozen or so heroes amass at the old Ghostbusters headquarters in Manhattan to protect a storage trap of ghouls that has, like the movie itself, gotten perilously sardined.

In the scenes where the director, Gil Kenan, who wrote the script with Jason Reitman, ponders what it might feel like to let the dead dematerialize for good, the film seems to be asking its fan base if it’s ready to release Bill Murray’s weary parapsychologist, Peter Venkman, from haunting the series when his soul clearly isn’t in it.

“Afterlife” introduced the estranged daughter of Harold Ramis’s Egon Spengler, a single mother named Callie (Carrie Coon), and her teenage children, Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard). After the death of their paterfamilias, the family fended off his killer, the Sumerian deity Gozer, with a helpful boost from a high school physics teacher named Gary (Paul Rudd); two young pals, Lucky (Celeste O’Connor) and Podcast (Logan Kim) — yes, Podcast; and the first generation of Ghostbusters, Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), Dr. Venkman (Murray) and the sassy secretary, Janine (Annie Potts).

Now, the Oklahomies (even the unrelated children!) have relocated to Manhattan to speed around town harpooning wild ghosts from the Ectomobile, that beloved vintage hearse. In New York, the posse meets an ancient languages expert (Patton Oswalt), a paranormal engineer (James Acaster, a kooky English comic making his big-screen Hollywood debut) and an in-over-his-head huckster (Kumail Nanjiani) who inherits a nasty little spherical cryptogram with a very bad thing locked inside that’s yearning to unleash a fatal attack of the shivers — a neat idea that, in execution, just looks like a Roland Emmerich disaster movie.

My fingers have taken to their death bed simply typing out the basics. Yet, “Frozen Empire” is an eclectic, enjoyable barrage of nonsense — a circus act that kicks off with a Robert Frost poem and climaxes with Ray Parker Jr.’s titular synth banger. Each scene gets laughs. Strung together, they sputter along with the fragmentary logic of a dream: Characters vanish at key moments and then reappear unexpectedly covered in goo. A demon goes to a vape shop. Once, I could swear the fire station’s brass pole was smelted down. A few beats later it was back in place.

Back to top button