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Davis Journal

The Movie Guru: ‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ and ‘Road House’ bring cinematic fun

Mar 22, 2024 10:39AM ● By Jenniffer Wardell
Credit for photo ©CTMG

Credit for photo ©CTMG

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (in theaters) 

There are some characters you just want to keep hanging out with. 

If you felt that way about the crew from “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” then I have the movie for you. Though “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” isn’t quite as good a movie as its predecessor, it’s a wonderful way to spend time with some wonderfully familiar faces. It’s a big, sprawling celebration of family, growing up, and listening to the people in your life who give you advice about not starting the apocalypse. It tries to do too much, but it’s easy to enjoy everything it pulls off. 

It’s been two years since Egon Spangler’s daughter and grandkids rediscovered their connection to the Ghostbusters, and they’ve all moved to New York to try and continue the legacy. There are plenty of growing pains, especially for 15-year-old Phoebe. The mayor has declared her too young to be a Ghostbuster, but the idea of letting it go isn’t something she can handle. When an ancient demon gets released, the world might not be able to handle it, either. 

The movie is less certain of what it is than the original, trying to follow several separate plot lines in a film that clocks in at under two hours. Still, I enjoyed every moment I spent with the characters from the original, including Paul Rudd, the surviving original Ghostbusters, and the delightful Logan Kim and Celeste O’Connor. The world needs more supernatural family slice-of-life comedies, especially if they’ve got some action sequences. 

Grade: Three stars 

Road House (Prime Video)

The new “Road House” is a lot of fun, but not as much fun as it could be.

The remake tries for a more coherent approach to the story than the 1989 cult classic, but still manages to capture a lot of that ridiculous, violent fun that was so important to the original. Jake Gyllenhaal is a huge part of that, doing an amazing job capturing Dalton and all his weirdly likable contradictions. It’s hardly perfect, and the ending is disappointing on several levels, but until then there’s a lot here to root for.

By far, the best part of the movie is Gyllenhaal’s performance as Dalton. He’s not the same man as Patrick Swayze’s version of the character, but he’s got the same loose, oddball vibe to go with the fighting skills. Gyllenhaal makes his darkness more believable than Swayze’s, but he’s also got a kind of goofy charm you can’t help but find endearing.

The best parts of the movie continue that vibe, somehow endearing and violent in the same breath. Watching the movie is like being in a Florida beach bar late at night, when the music is loud and people are getting rowdy but you’re still enjoying yourself. Here, you get the same energy without the risk of being punched.

Unfortunately, the end of the movie kills that vibe dead. After a climactic final battle it just kind of stops short, rapidly ending things with a few quick scenes that feel more like a whimper than a bang. It’s the cinematic equivalent of suddenly being kicked out of the bar, half your drink still on the table and the music shut off in the middle of the song.

Grade: Two and a half stars

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Utah Film Critics Association. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at [email protected]