a critiQal film review Ghost Town (2008)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Bertram Pincus (Gervais) is not exactly a "people person." When Pincus dies unexpectedly, but is miraculously revived after seven minutes, he wakes up to discover that he now has the annoying ability to see ghosts. Even worse, they all want something from him, particularly Frank (Kinnear), who pesters him into breaking up the impending marriage of his widow Gwen (Leoni).

617 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 5s)

When I first heard about Ghost Town, I groaned, thinking it would be nothing but another Ghost ripoff. After seeing the preview, however, I was interested almost in spite of that reaction, thanks to what looked to be another hilarious performance from Ricky Gervais.

Still, I wasn’t enthralled enough to venture to see Ghost Town in theaters. But, when Heather ended up picking it up at our local Blockbuster® the other day, I was interested enough to sit down with her and check it out.

Would Ghost Town turn out to be nothing but a Ghost rip-off as I had feared, or had I read this film all wrong?

Ricky Gervais is a reason to check out Ghost Town all by himself. Whether he’s stuffing cotton into a patient’s mouth to keep her from talking, or trying to act charming around Tea Leoni (and failing miserably), he’s a real highlight of the film – and hilarious from start to finish.

He’s able to inject humor into every situation, yet manages to tone down the humor when it isn’t appropriate as well. Too many comedians are stuck in “joke mode” and aren’t able to get serious – Ricky knows when to crack funny and when to play it straight, and does a great job with both.

Greg Kinnear, who’s popularity in films is somewhat of a mystery, as he tends to come off kind of annoying, does a good job in Ghost Town as well. The slightly annoying personality that viewers have seen from him time and again works well for him in his role, as he portrays kind of a jerk. Sure, he’s got a bit of a softer side, but overall, he’s kind of annoying, and the viewer easily relates to Gervais’ tries to get rid of this lingering spirit.

Tea Leoni, on the other hand, continues to unimpress in Ghost Town. While her character is the main focus of the plot, she leaves most of the acting to Gervais and Kinnear, and stumbles along in the background. She does have a few moments where she seems genuine (such as when she’s cracking bad jokes over an ancient mummified man), but those high points are few and far between. Still, that’s a lot better than viewers are used to seeing from her.

The plot, while originally seeming to be very similar to Ghost, turns out a bit different. Instead of trying to reunite the ghost with his now lost love, Kinnear’s spirit ends up trying to help Gervais’ dentist hit on his wife, with the goal of breaking up her new relationship at the forefront. Turns out, the dead guy wasn’t that faithful to his wife in real life, and sees a bit of himself in Gervais’ anti-social behavior, setting him up for a change of heart later on.

While the plot is a bit more mean-spirited than Ghost, the film is played as a light romantic comedy. While that may sound odd at first, it works well for the film, as director David Koepp is able to showcase just a touch of humor even during the usually morbid death sequence, keeping that light-hearted feel despite what just happened.

Thanks to a hilarious – and at times, honestly heartfelt – performance by Ricky Gervais and a role that finally puts the annoyance factor of Greg Kinnear to good use, Ghost Town turns out to be a very enjoyable, slightly quirky, romantic comedy that both guys and gals should enjoy.

Sure, it does get a bit cliched and sappy in parts, but the laughter from Gervais’ performance should carry most guys through that. A definite rental for a light-hearted ‘date night’, Ghost Town is worth checking out.

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