Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire Has Too Much Going On

(L to R) Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), Lucky (Celeste O'Connor), Gary (Paul Rudd), Nadeem (Kamail Nanjiani), Podcast (Logan Kim) and Callie (Carrie Coon) in Columbia Pictures GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is a movie that has a lot going on and doesn’t know what to do with it. There are too many plots going on, too many characters, and too many ghosts and monsters. It’s a film in a franchise that is trying to do its own thing, but can’t leave the past behind. Despite the best efforts from Paul Rudd, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is too messy to enjoy.

Following the events of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, our new Ghostbusters, Gary (Paul Rudd), Callie (Carrie Coon), and her kids Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), have moved from their farm town in Oklahoma to New York City to be Ghostbusters. The film opens with the four of them chasing down a sewer-dwelling ghost dragon across the city and the banter between them was fun, even if Wolfhard struggled to keep up with the other three. Their witty back-and-forth quips were something Afterlife desperately needed and mixing it with a fun and exciting chase scene started the film off on an entertaining note.

Phoebe Spengler (Mckenna Grace) in Columbia Pictures GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.
Phoebe Spengler (Mckenna Grace) in Columbia Pictures GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.

Following a successful mission, the Ghostbusters are chewed out by Mayor Peck (William Atherton, reprising his classic scumbag role), who threatens to shut the Ghostbusters down if they continue to cause chaos in the city. He also orders Phoebe, inarguably the most capable of the new Ghostbusters, to stop being a Ghostbuster due to being a minor. As Gary, Callie, and Trevor continue to go on Ghostbuster missions, Phoebe struggles to be a “normal teenager” and find her calling.

Over the next 100 minutes, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire becomes overstuffed with several different plots, none of which include the family working together like we saw in the opening scene. While she waits to become a Ghostbuster again, Phoebe befriends a ghost (Emily Alyn Lind) and starts to question if she’d prefer being a ghost or not. Phoebe also spends time with her friend from Oklahoma Podcast (Logan Kim), who is interning with Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), who owns a shop for historical and haunted artifacts. One day, Stantz receives a mysterious ball from Nadeem (Kumail Nanjiani), which might be a cursed object that could lead to global destruction, and the only person who could stop it is Nadeem, though he doesn’t know it. Gary is trying to adjust to potentially being Trevor and Phoebe’s new dad. The Containment Unit that holds all the trapped ghosts at Ghostbusters headquarters is almost full, so Gary and Callie need to find a new home for all the ghosts, which they do, thanks to Winston (Ernie Hudson) having an underground laboratory specifically for ghost hunting. Trevor is trying to catch Slimer, who is living in the attic of Ghostbusters HQ, and Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) is around.

Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), Podcast (Logan Kim), Ray (Dan Aykroyd) and Dr. Hubert Wartzki (Patton Oswalt) in Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.
Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), Podcast (Logan Kim), Ray (Dan Aykroyd), and Dr. Hubert Wartzki (Patton Oswalt) in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.

All of that happens in a movie that runs under two hours in length. As you can imagine, none of these plots or characters are developed. What made the original Ghostbusters so special was that it cared about its characters. It was a buddy/workplace comedy along with being a sci-fi comedy. We had more fun watching Peter, Ray, Winston, and Egon hang out and banter back and forth than we did watching them bust ghosts. Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, like Ghostbusters: Afterlife before it, doesn’t care about its characters. It uses its characters as plot devices until we get to the next action scene. While the cast is incredibly talented, with Paul Rudd giving a genuinely funny and sweet performance, they can only do so much with the little they are given.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire can’t seem to figure out what kind of movie it wants to be. This started in Afterlife, where we watched an entire film focusing on new characters with new plots while it gave nods to the original Ghostbusters films, but then during the climax of the film, the original Ghostbusters showed up to save the day (even the ghost of Egon showed up!). In Frozen Empire, we get all the new characters from Afterlife plus the remaining living Ghostbusters, including Janine (Annie Potts), still as sassy as ever. Aykroyd is the most prominent and might as well have changed his name to Ray Exposition because that’s what nearly all of his lines are. Hudson has a few scenes, but Winston’s development is that he’s rich and still interested in ghost hunting. Murray is in two scenes, one being the film’s climax, and while he’s only in these two scenes, he doesn’t miss a beat in his reprisal as Peter. Do we still need the old Ghostbusters in these movies? It feels like these new Ghostbusters films are scared to try and exist without Aykroyd, Murray, Hudson, and Potts, despite the new films having a gifted and charming new cast. Maybe don’t cast the original Ghostbusters and allow us to get to know the new Ghostbusters and develop them more instead of living in the past. And maybe eliminate three or four plots and give us scenes that show character growth. Let’s get to know the new Ghostbusters and move on from the past.

Written by Kevin Wozniak

Kevin is a film critic and writer from the suburbs of Chicago. He is a member of the Chicago Indie Critics, Online Film & Television Association, and Internet Film Critics Society. He usually writes movie reviews and lists of Film Obsessive.

You can find more of Kevin's work at

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