Ghost Town (2008)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 8.5/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 8/10

GHOST TOWN (2008) - David Koepp

Every "ghost" movie is always about some supernatural spirits coming back from the dead to haunt the main characters. This is all formula already. However, this was indeed taken a step upwards when M. Night Shyamalan came along with The Sixth Sense, introducing the characters' own viewpoints that they "see dead people." What if you have a character who can see dead people, "and they annoy him?"

Ghost Town is a dramedy that stars English comedian Ricky Gervais in his first leading feature-film role as Bertram Pincus, a misanthropic dentist who dies unexpectedly, but is miraculously revived after seven minutes, and discovers that he now has the "annoying" ability to see and talk to ghosts. The film follows Pincus as he encounters a young widow (Téa Leoni) and her recently deceased ghost husband (Greg Kinnear). The stakes begin to get raised comically as more ghosts annoy Pincus by asking him to help them with personal business that was left unfinished when they died.

Ricky Gervais' humor is consistently well-executed throughout, almost as if Ghost Town is a showcase for Gervais' talent. Hilariously, his accent fits with his selfish personality, how he is the most anti-social human in the town. Gervais has successfully passed the "audition" to intrigue the American audience. He is smart-mouthed, witty, and the jokes throughout Ghost Town are briskly paced and well placed, the very opposite of sporadic humor, which I despise. In spite of Leoni not having a steady style of humor, her charm is enhanced by the very presence of Gervais. In addition, their screen duos are spontaneously delivered, in a good way, almost as if the two leads are improvising their lines. Kinnear plays Gervais' foil with great precision. In a way, they are similar, yet they are also very different. They are both jerks, even to each other. But deep inside their hearts, they are the same, similar to an apple and an orange. They are different but they are both fruit at the end of the day.

The best part about Ghost Town is that it triumphed in avoiding the mainstream comedy that the recent years have somehow been attached to. The comedy is light, but its simplicity in filmmaking and narrative helps it achieve exactly what it was made to do: Touch our hearts while entertaining us at the same time. Best of all, director/writer David Koepp did it with great intelligence and attentiveness. One of the most common movie genres that get mutilated is the romantic comedy genre. Yes, Ghost Town is considered a romantic comedy. Here, the film looks through the old formula and comes out with the right answer. It reminds us why we love romantic comedies in the first place, from the very beginning with Frank Capra's It Happened One Night to recent years with You Got Mail or When Harry Met Sally. But above all, Ghost Town reminds us that there is nothing wrong with formula filmmaking -- as long as it is done with wit, style, and heart.

In conclusion, Ghost Town is a great film. It touches on clever comedy as well as sentimentality without pushing the limit and making it appear labored. Nobody knew that Ricky Gervais can play a lovable leading man, but here it is clear evidence that he has done it. Despite its concept and technicality being extremely simple like an independent film, Ghost Town stands as a well-made award contender that deserves its audience, perhaps a wider one. The tone is funny and is briskly paced, a perfect narrative for a comedy, especially a romantic comedy as well as a dramedy. In the end, Ghost Town delivers. You will find yourself delightfully laughing and affectionately crying at the same time. It is the unexpected joy of the year, a quietly original film.


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