Saturday, 26 September 2020
Ghost Town
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Thursday, 25 September 2008 00:00

ThumbnailNo wonder my favorite season is fall… Even discounting all the usual notions about foliage, pumpkins and that crisp smell in the air – the fact remains that all the best and most interesting films of the year usually wait for fall to hit the big screen. Last week’s Burn After Reading made me remember all that I love about movies, and this week Ghost Town provides a welcome escape and big laughs. So far I’m two for two with great autumn entertainment!

Ghost Town stars Ricky Gervais, best known for his work creating, writing, producing and starring in the original British version of The Office. He’s what started it folks! We all owe countless hours of banter around the water-cooler to this man. We’re talking scary talented. He’s got a combination of charisma and smugness that is perfect for his role in Ghost Town as Bertram Pincus, a dentist to whom human interaction is about as pleasant as, well, pulling teeth. When we meet Bertram he’s both socially and physically constipated. Not really something we the audience want to be involved in, but central to the story since he winds up in the hospital for a colonoscopy. He unexpectedly dies and is revived during the surgery, but is left to suffer the side effects – he can suddenly see dead people!

Greg Kinnear plays Frank, a ghost with unfinished business. At least he assumes he’s got unfinished business since he’s stuck in the world and his spirit can’t “cross over”. During life, Frank was a philandering jackass who didn’t realize what he had with his dynamic and lovely wife (Téa Leoni). You can guess what happens next as Frank swindles Pincus into helping him by intervening in his widowed wife’s romantic life.

ThumbnailWhile the story is something we’ve seen before in many incarnations (if you’ll pardon the pun) it is the spirited performances that really bring this movie to life. (Wow – that was a minefield of them!) Ricky Gervais is perfectly despicable and loveable at the same time, with an underdog appeal that we can all root for. He and Greg Kinnear have great chemistry when the banter really flies and it’s hilarious to watch the two of them flinging lines at each other with barely contained glee. I even liked Téa Leoni who plays the widow, Gwen, with sharpness of wit and vulnerability. For once she didn’t make me grit my teeth and wonder what David Duchovny is thinking.

Ghost town is funny and heartwarming and keeps itself free of the splashy special effects and clutter that would have bogged it down. Instead it opts to tell us a story through interesting characters and a well-written script – a wise move that raises it above the sludge of mediocre romantic comedies into something quite charming. Highly recommended.