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KPCW sends its most discerning moviegoers to the movies each week to let you know which films are worth going to and which are a pass. The Friday Film Review airs at 7:20 a.m., during the Noon News and in The Local View. KPCW Friday Film Reviewers are: Barb Bretz, Rick Brough, Mark Harrington and Linda Jager.

Friday Film Review | 'Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire'

Forty years after the original “Ghostbusters”, a new film, subtitled “Frozen Empire”, arrives in theaters. But the result, sadly, is lukewarm.

Back in 2021, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” was a hit. It was a sequel that kinda came at you sideways.

The story was that two youngsters, Phoebe and Trevor, stuck with their single mom in a small Western town, find out their late grandfather was none other than Egon Spengler, the nerdy genius of the Ghostbusters.

The young heroes find their destiny, while the original “Busters” re-discover theirs.

The film was created by original “Ghostbusters” director Ivan Reitman, his son Jason, and collaborator Gil Kenan. The same team returned for “Frozen Empire” (before the recent death of Ivan) but the plot here is more familiar and uninspired.

The Spenglers have inherited the Ghostbusters franchise, with Mom (played by Carrie Coon) Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and lead heroine Phoebe (played by Mckenna Grace) operating out of the legendary firehouse, dealing with bureaucrats, and discovering there’s a new menace. An ancient demon god, Garraka, will put the whole world in a deep freeze if he can escape from an antique brass orb.

What’s missing is the quirky humour, scripted in the two Eighties “Ghostbuster” films by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. There’s no threatened apocalypse with dogs and cats living together.

Instead, the Spenglers are dealing with sitcom-family problems. Gary, Mom’s science-teacher boyfriend (again played by Paul Rudd) has joined them, but the family hasn’t quite decided whether to accept him as a surrogate Dad.

Phoebe is irritated that she isn’t being treated as an adult. And in the film’s most interesting sub-plot, the only person she can share her angst with is moody teen ghost Melody (played by Emily Alyn Lind.)

There are plenty of callbacks to the classic characters—with mixed results. Winston (played by Ernie Hudson) has become a Musk-like entrepreneur with an R and D operation aimed at spooks.

Aykroyd, as Ray Stantz, is still the expert on ancient lore—now he has a podcast! He has a fun interlude with a charged-up Patton Oswalt, as a fellow antiquarian marooned in a library basement.

The cast includes Kumail Nanjiani as the Rick Moranis-type character—a hapless bystander who finds out he is “the Firemaster.”

There’s even a return appearance by persnickety bureaucrat Walter Peck, who is now the mayor! (Doesn’t New York have enough problems?) But William Atherton, as Walter, doesn’t seem to have his heart in it.

And Bill Murray has been coaxed back for a couple of all-too-brief appearances as Peter Venkman. You barely have time to start cheering, and he’s gone again.

“Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” has likable characters and nostalgic appeal. That’s just enough to conjure up two-and-a-half stars on a scale of five.