The Ghostbusters franchise isn’t really known for feel good moments, other than bustin’ itself, which always makes you feel good. Heartwarming family drama isn’t exactly the stock in trade of Ivan Reitman’s beloved ’80s romp, which is more doofy comedy than homespun tearjerker or even scifi extravaganza. But the makers of the latest entry in the saga are clearly hoping you’re open to a new spin, because the trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife is going all in on dewey nostalgia and coming-of-age pathos, more Steven Spielberg than Harold Ramis. That’s probably at least partly because Afterlife is being helmed by Jason Reitman, son of the original director, who brings a hallowed reverence to Ghostbustin’ totems like the car, the symbol and the proton pack.
In some ways, the movie feels like it’s trying to position itself as an apology to the fans who were less than thrilled by 2016’s soft reboot, which brought in Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. That movie became a flashpoint in the discourse, an awful example of how benign fandoms can become overrun by their worst, most extreme elements, leading to a deluge of misogyny and racism that clearly left the movie’s stars pretty shaken. The conversation around the movie had gotten so toxic that by the time the thing actually landed in theaters, it felt like a bit of an afterthought.
But a powerful IP will endure and so we’ve got a new attempt, with a fresh outlook and a family man in the director’s seat. Will it work? Who knows. It’s got Paul Rudd and Carrie Coon, which is a good sign. Stranger Things‘ Finn Wolfhard is here too, and he certainly knows his way around ’80s homage. And the credits promise familiar faces like Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and, yes, Bill Murray, so there will be plenty of hat-tips to the original in cast, if not in tone. We’ll know more in November.