Friday, January 2, 2009

DVD Review: "Ghost Town"

There are a lot of movies titled Ghost Town. IMDb lists at least 6 others, dating back as far as 1936. However, only one is a romantic comedy.
Ricky Gervais (creator of the original British version of "The Office") is Bertram Pincus, a rather disagreeable dentist with a Manhattan apartment two buildings away from his office and no discernable social life. Hell, he barely even knows the dentist with whom he shares an office. Then a routine colonoscopy ends up killing him for 7 minutes, and when he finally wakes up, he can see dead people.
And hear and interact with them. But he wants nothing to do with the dead, either. The fact that the dead people all have unfinished business on earth and want him to help them finish it, makes him all the more crazy. Greg Kinnear (As Good As it Gets; Nurse Betty) is the ghost of Frank, a lout whose widow, Gwen (Tea Leoni) is about to remarry, and he wants Pincus to stop the wedding. Pincus agrees, but only because Frank has promised he'll make the other ghosts leave him alone in exchange for the favor.
Pincus promptly attempts to woo anthro-archaeologist Gwen, despite the fact that her fiance (yummy Billy Campbell) is a tall, handsome and philanthropic human rights lawyer. What follows is probably the year's most delightful and unexpected romantic comedy.
Gervais is the perfect curmudgeon, whose life until now has been unhappy and uneventful. Leoni redeems herself for the almost unforgivable Fun with Dick and Jane, while Kinnear continues to prove why he deserved to transition from basic cable (E!'s "Talk Soup") to the big screen. Also on hand are SNL's brilliant Kristen Wiig as a tan-obssessed surgeon and Alan Ruck (Ferris Beuller's Day Off) as a grieving Ghost Dad. The script by David Keopp (Jurassic Park; Panic Room; Spider-Man), who also directed, is perfect fodder for Gervais' hopeful misanthrope and Keopp's direction never gets in the way of telling the story. While there may not be many laugh-out-loud-till-it-hurts moments, this sentimental fool did get a tiny case of the sniffles at the end. All-in-all, a sweet and funny film with a terrific cast and some of the best shots of Manhattan in the fall that you'll ever see on film. *** (Three Stars)

No comments: