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Ghost Town

December 8, 2010

Ghost Town

This is one of the better comedies in the past few years, it is funny, it has heart, and it doesn’t make a big deal out of sex, drugs, or rock ‘n’ roll, but actually bothers to create a good story.  Ricky Gervais, creator of the original Office, stars in this film, and while his mannerisms are fairly similar in every role he plays, he does a good job in his comedy work and is enjoyable to watch.

Pincus, played by Gervais, is an indifferent dentist who really doesn’t care what people try and tell him while he works on them, he isn’t the kind of man who holds an elevator for someone, he really isn’t all that good a man.  Every thing changes when he goes into the hospital, for a routine procedure, and dies on the table.  He is revived, after seven minutes, but because he has died, things start to change.  He starts to be able to see ghosts, and he starts to be able to interact with ghosts, and the ghosts start wanting him to do things for them.  The main ghost, Frank, played by Greg Kinnear, wants Pincus to break up Frank’s widows new engagement.  Other ghosts have other things that they need him to do, so that they can be at peace.  Pincus refuses, but after he falls for Gwen, Frank’s widow played by Tea Leoni, and Frank screws him over, Pincus has a change of heart.

Gervais is generally quite good in comedy roles, and as compared to many comedies, his characters always seem to learn something and have a bit of  a message that goes with them.  Greg Kinnear matches up well with Gervais, as both of them play kind of angry men, and Kinnear comes off as being this philandering egotistical ghost, much like his character in real life, and he plays it well.  The rest of the supporting cast is good, but not all that memorable.  Leoni is solid as Gwen, and Kristen Wiig, of SNL, has a small role as Pincus’ surgeon, and she is kind of annoying, but that is how she is supposed to be played in the film.

The film is put together well by director David Koepp, who is known better for being a screenwriter and working on Spider-Man and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  What I appreciate is that the ghosts are very tangible, they aren’t some wispy aberration that float around Pincus, but instead are very “solid” and have retained the form that they held in life.  Yes, people can walk through them, and they sneeze when they do, but it isn’t like Casper the friendly ghost type of ghost, which is much appreciated.  Koepp also created a comedy that is slower paced.  As compared to the film that I just reviewed, Naked Gun, which is all about having constant laughs, this one takes its time and creates jokes that develop the characters.  Both types of comedy have their own merit and their own place in film, and for this story, the slower pacing is what is needed.

This is a comedy, that is worth checking out.  It doesn’t have a gut busting hilarious moment, but it has a lot of little jokes that work really well, and some awkward jokes, that are funny, but  not all that funny at the same time.  Gervais is becoming more of a house hold name over in the US, which is a good thing, and this, along with his other recent comedy, The Invention of Lying, are worth checking out.  I will follow that up by saying that they aren’t for everyone, people who like films like The Hangover and Superbad aren’t going to enjoy a comedy of this pacing, because it is a slower and sweeter comedy.

Entertainment Grade: B

Critical Grade: B

Overall Grade: B

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