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At The Movies: “Ghostbusters” on ice

With “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire,” Who ya gonna call?

A good script doctor.

By definition, a script doctor is “a writer or playwright hired by a film, television or theater production company to rewrite an existing script or improve specific aspects of it, including structure, characterization, dialogue, pacing and themes.”

“Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” is fifth in the “Ghostbusters” movie franchise, which began in 1984 and is in its 40th anniversary year.

“Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” is filled with good intentions, but lacks the fun, verve and excitement of many other films in the franchise.

The premise is that an ancient force is unleashed on New York City, coating everything and everyone in ice, frozen in place.

“Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” is frozen by that premise and lacks interesting story twists and character development. The special effects are spectacular, but how much ice can one take if no Disney songs and ice-skating are involved?

“Ghostbusters” (1984) was one of the most successful comedies of the 1980s. The American Film Institute lists “Ghostbusters” as No. 28 in the Top 100 comedies of all time.

The franchise includes “Ghostbusters II” (1989), a female version of “Ghostbusters” (2016) and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” (2021).

A title card at the beginning of “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” quotes Robert Frost’s poem, “Fire and Ice” (1923), with the stanza: “To say that for destruction ice/Is also great/And would suffice.”

Alas, ice does not suffice in “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.”

The giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, who loomed over the original “Ghostbusters” (1984), appears in droves, but in miniature in “Ghostbusters: Frozen Kingdom.” They are cute, but they are no Minions. Nothing much is done with the Mini-Pufts other than having them giggle and run around as in “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.”

Ecto-1, the Ectomobile, a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Sentinel limousine-style endloader ambulance-hearse coach conversion, zooms around and adds zip to an opening sequence.

The original New York City firehouse is back and includes some interesting exteriors. Firehouse, Hook & Ladder Company 8, New York City Fire Department, Moore and Varick streets, Tribeca, Manhattan, was in the original “Ghostbusters.”

The original “Ghostbusters” cast is also back: Bill Murray (Dr. Peter Venkman), Ernie Hudson (Dr. Winston Zeddemore), Dan Aykroyd (Dr. Raymond Stantz), Annie Potts (Janine Melnitz) and William Atherton (Mayor Walter Peck).

Harold Ramis (born in 1944), who played Dr. Egon Spengler, died in 2014.

Murray, Potts and Hudson have what amount to cameos.

Aykroyd has some heft to his part, which includes owning a used book shop.

The updated Ghostbusters crew, introduced in “Ghosbusters: Afterlife,” Paul Rudd (Gary Grooberson), Carrie Coon (Callie Spengler), Mckenna Grace (Phoebe Spengler), Finn Wolfhard (Trevor Spengler), Logan Kim (Podcast) and Celeste O’Connor (Lucky Domingo), also aren’t given much to do: They often have that deer-in-headlights look, or as if they are about to look off-camera for the prompter and request, “Line.”

Newcomers in supporting roles include Kumail Nanjiani (Nadeem Razmaadi), Patton Oswalt (Dr. Hubert Wartzki), Emily Alyn Lind (Melody) and James Acaster (Dr. Lars Pinfield).

A good script doctor would have streamlined the screenplay’s football team-sized cast.

Gil Kenan and Jason Reitman (director, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”) wrote the screenplay based on “Ghostbusters,” written by Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd.

“Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” was directed by Kenan (director, “A Boy Called Christmas,” 2021; “Poltergeist,” 2015; “City of Ember,” 2008; “Monster House,” 2006; screenwriter, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”).

The “Ghostbusters” theme song, written and sung by Ray Parker Jr., heard toward the film’s closing scenes, injects a much-needed burst of energy into the film’s lugubrious pace. By then, it’s too late.

As Michael “Movie Maven” Gontkosky said at the conclusion of the film, “‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Kingdom’ leaves me cold.”

“Ghostbusters: Frozen Kingdom” should be entertaining for children. Fans of the “Ghostbusters” franchise may be disappointed.

“Ghostbusters: Frozen Kingdom,”

MPAA rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.) for supernatural action-violence, language and suggestive references; Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Science-Fiction; Run time: 1 hour, 55 minutes. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous:

In a mid-credits scene during the “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” end credits, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Mini-Pufts get behind the wheel of a Stay Puft Marshmallow semi-tractor trailer delivery truck. The end credits state: “For Ivan,” a dedication to Ivan Reitman (1946-2022), director, “Ghostbusters” and “Ghostbusters II.” Filming took place in Warner Bros. Studios, Winnersh Film Studios and Shinfield Studios, England; New York City, and New Jersey, from March through June 2023.

At The Movies:

“Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” was seen in the Dolby Theatre at AMC, AMC Center Valley 16. The Dolby image and sound reverberated through the eyes and body.

Theatrical Movie Domestic Weekend Box Office,

April 5-7: “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” swatted off all challengers, No. 1 for two weeks in a row with a still-solid $31.7 million in 3,948 theaters, $135 million, two weeks, holding off a similarly-simian-titled movie, “Monkey Man,” opening at No. 2 with $10.1 million in 3,029 theaters.

3. “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” dropped one place, $9 million in 3,835 theaters, $88.8 million, three weeks. 4. The First Omen,” opening, $8.3 million in 3,375 theaters. 5. “Kung Fu Panda 4” dropped one place, $7.8 million in 3,398 theaters, $166 million, five weeks. 6. “Dune: Part Two” dropped three places, $7.2 million in 2,836 theaters, $264.8 million, six weeks. 7. “Someone Like You,” opening, $3 million in 1,800 theaters. 8. “Wicked Little Letters” moved up 18 places, $1.5 million in 1,002 theaters, $1.6 million, two weeks. 9. “Arthur the King” dropped three places, $1.5 million in 1,706 theaters, $22.2 million, four weeks. 10. “Immaculate” dropped five places, $1.4 million in 1,706 theaters, $14.1 million, three weeks.

Movie box office information from Box Office Mojo as of April 7 is subject to change.


April 12:

“Civil War,”

R: Alex Garland directs Kirsten Dunst and Nick Offerman in the Action film. A rebel faction is poised to attack the White House.


R: Benjamin Brewer directs Nicolas Cage in the Action, Horror, Thriller. A father and twin teen sons try to survive in a farmhouse.

“The Long Game,”

PG: Julio Quintana directs Dennis Quaid and Cheech Marin in Drama History. Mexican-American caddies create their own golf course in the desert during the 1950s. It’s based on a true story.

“The Absence of Eden,”

R. Marco Perego directs Zoe Saldana, Adria Arjona, Garrett Hedlund and Tom Waits in the Drama. An ICE agent tries to help an undocumented girt who is fleeing a cartel.

Movie opening date information from Internet Movie Database as of April 7 is subject to change.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

CONTRIBUTED IMAGE BY WARNER BROS. PICTURES On the road again: Ecto-1, the Ectomobile, “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.”