Director: David Koepp
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Tea Leoni, Greg Kinnear
Running Time: 102 minutes
Score: 7 / 10
This review by Matt Layden. Spoilers ahead
After dying for a little less then seven minutes after going in for some minor surgery. Dentist Pincus begins to see dead people. The dead people, finally having someone who can see and hear them, try to get him to finish their business so they can finally leave this world. Only problem is Pincus is a loner who hates people.
It’s Ricky Gervais’ dry humour and wit that seem to elevate Ghost Town and make it stand out in the crowd of numerous other clichéd romantic comedies. That’s not saying that this film isn’t clichéd, it has them left right and centre. Although with Gervais taking a different approach to the material then what most other leading men would do in this situation, Ghost Town becomes a film that people will actually enjoy and not roll their eyes at.
We start the film off with the death of Greg Kinnear, and if you think that is a spoiler then you have no idea what this movie is about. After that we are treated to the ‘people person’ that is our lead character. We get this immediately with his treatment to his patients and other co-workers. Although, after his surgery, he opens his eyes and start seeing ghosts around the town. This is when the clichéd bits start kicking in. With every film in which a living character can see and speak with ghosts, you get the obligatory “Is he crazy?” as people around him see him speak to no one. We’ve seen this stuff over and over again and while it would obviously happen, it’s not funny and that’s the difference. Ghost Town tries to get a laugh every time it happens.
You know those films when people walk through a ghost and they get the chills, while this film has that, they put a little twist on it. The character sneezes. For whatever reason, it’s never explained, but I guess when you’re dealing with this subject matter you can start creating your own rules. Speaking of rules, Ghost Town follows the basic flow chart of every rom-com that has been out there before it. So don’t really expect to see something new.
This is Gervais first leading film, after having successful television shows with “The Office” and “Extras” he is branching out to film. This is an interesting choice for his first outing, and while it does work, I would have liked to see him do something different. He sure has the comedic chops to tackle different forms of comedy. He has his own spin on things and it’s all in the delivery. With comedic actors like Mike Meyers and Eddie Murphy failing to get laughs (Love guru, Meet Dave) it’s nice to see the light shine on someone else. Someone that is currently not in the Apatow crew either.
As with the talking to no one bits, there is also the “tell me something that only I would know” routine. Although, I will give Koepp props, because this time it doesn’t work out so well. I like Koepp as a director, Stir Of Echoes and the Trigger Effects are both well made films. This is his first time writing and directing a comedy. If you want to count Toy Soldiers as a comedy then go ahead, he did write that. He does a decent job of pacing the film with the laughs and adding the emotional punches when it’s needed. As most rom-coms do, it takes a dramatic turn and the comedy goes away for about 15 minutes, Maybe you’ll need a Kleenex, maybe not.
While Ghost Town does follow the basics for a romantic comedy, it does have the slight advantage of having Ricky Gervais on it’s side. If you’ve never seen his material, Ghost Town is an alright choice to start with, but I still recommend his television work over this. You’ll get some laughs from here, Tea Leoni holds her own and Greg Kinnear has the hardest part in the entire film. So in the end, the film works and does what it’s suppose to do.
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