Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire – Review

Worth seeing: for some silly, ghostly fun and a hit of nostalgia in a rather messy film that adds up to less than the sum of its ingredients
Director:Gil Kenan
Featuring:Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, McKenna Grace, Paul Rudd, Bill Murray, Celeste O'Connor, Dan Aykroyd, Emily Alyn Lind, Ernie Hudson, James Acaster, Kumail Nanjiani, Logan Kim, Patton Oswalt, William Atherton
Length:115 minutes
Released:22nd March 2024


Former teacher Gary (Paul Rudd), his girlfriend Callie (Connie Coon) and her kids Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (McKenna Grace) have set up home in the historic Manhattan fire station, which doubles as New York City’s ghostbusting headquarters.

The mayor (William Atherton) doesn’t really appreciate their efforts to keep the city safe; he’s more worried about all the collateral damage caused during their chases.

When chancer Nadeem (Kumail Nanjiani) tries to make a bit of cash by selling tat he’s found in his late grandmother’s flat, he ends up unleashing an evil spirit that sets out to freeze the entire city.

Luckily, Nadeem – unknown even to himself – turns out to hold the secret to save the city, but he needs help from Ghostbusters – new and old – to unlock it.


Frozen Empire picks up from where Afterlife left off – centring on the family that brought the original Ghostbusters out of retirement and relocates them from small-town America back to the big city where the frenetic franchise began, nearly four decades ago.

That the resulting story is convoluted, unconvincing and not especially interesting isn’t particularly problematic, but with a cast full of some of Hollywood’s finest comic actors – from Paul Rudd and Patton Oswalt to Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray – it should have been much funnier; only Kumail Nanjani raised smiles on more than one occasion; Murray spent most of his screen time looking like he wasn’t sure which film he’d turned up for.

The main villain felt like he belonged in a different film, the running gags fell flat and the idea of a top-secret paranormal laboratory, staffed mostly by interns, seemed a bit of a stretch.

And the sub-plot about the mayor trying to wind down the Ghostbusters because of all the havoc wreaked on Manhattan in their efforts to catch the spooks is dead in the water; much like in The Incredibles, which tackled the notion more convincingly, the mayor doesn’t appear to consider how much worse the destruction might be if the ghosts aren’t caught but unlike the Pixar animation, the idea feels like it’s been tagged on at the beginning and the end and completely overlooked for the entire second act.

It’s as if the unexpected positive response to Afterlife made them a little complacent, so they felt that they didn’t have to try as hard for the follow-up and they took too many liberties; bringing in familiar faces – from within the franchise and without – isn’t in itself clever or funny; it’s a lazy short-cut to comedy.

And it’s sadly the case that while the family at the centre of the story includes some of the least charismatic characters on screen and the ghosts themselves are either too familiar or simply a little lack lustre, the narrative relies too much on its weakest elements.

It would be churlish to say it wasn’t at all fun – it certainly has its moments – but they’re few and far between – and you’ll need the sense of nostalgia to carry you to the finish line, as the plot is never particularly exciting, frightening or indeed interesting and while the cast full of comedians, there are too few real laughs.

If there’s something strange in the neighbourhood, who you gonna call? Probably not the Ghostbusters – Kumail Nanjiani, perhaps, but he probably won’t be much use on his own.