Ghost Town

2009-02-05 08:59
 
Ghost Town

What it's about:

After "dying" for a few minutes while undergoing minor surgery, misanthropic dentist Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais) finds himself being persecuted by hundreds of very annoying and very demanding ghosts. Each of them wants Bertram to be their earthly conduit, fulfilling what they couldn’t before their untimely demise. One such annoyance is Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear), who wants Bertram to break up the relationship between his widow Gwen (Téa Leoni) and her dashing new fiancé, Richard (Billy Campbell).


What we thought of it:

Anyone who has ever watched gloriously cringe-worthy British sitcom The Office will probably do a double take upon discovering that its pudgy, awkward star, Ricky Gervais, is the lead in a Hollywood romantic comedy. Yep, ladies and gentleman, David Brent is about to fall in love with a woman who is (what else?) totally out of his league.

And, yes, David Brent is the character that Gervais portrays in The Office, but the effect of his iconic creation has made it nigh-on impossible to consider the one without the other. So, how does Gervais fare in his first Hollywood lead role? Very well, it turns out.

Bertram Pincus does everything in his power to avoid interacting with the human race, which takes some doing for someone who lives in bustling New York. He slithers out of office parties, steals cabs from his attractive neighbour Gwen, and is an all-round arse to anyone who interrupts the bubble of solitude he has built around himself.

However, Gervais' unique ability to make funny out of an embarrassingly awkward situation (usually at his own expense) comes sparkling through, and before you know it, you're rooting for this nasty little man. Bertram's charm is a sneaky but sweet revelation that offers tiny glimpses of the wounded heart he's been working so hard to protect.

You begin to see how someone like Gwen - sun-kissed, elegant, charismatic – could warm up to Ber. In fact, Gervais and Leoni enjoy the movie's best moments together. It's a joy to watch Gwen writhing around in agonising giggles as Bertram slyly mocks her overly earnest fiancé, or to see them bond over the issue of an Egyptian mummy's particularly large penis.

Stand-up comedian Kristen Wiig also supplies endless laughs as the blundering surgeon who tries to weasel herself and her hospital out of a potential lawsuit, while the myriad of dead people who interrupt Pincus' safe little world range from the ridiculous to the endearing.

To the movie's credit, the humour is kept low-key and intimate, steering clear of outrageous gags to convince you of its comedic merit. There's no place for Adam Sandler's goofy schmuck routine or Jim Carrey's brash idiot persona here. Turns out that smart writing and intuitive performances from a talented cast does a pretty good job of creating comedic gold.

Don’t let the 'romantic comedy' tag put you off. If anything, Ghost Town breathes much-needed life into an otherwise stale and increasingly uninspired Hollywood staple. The "I see dead people" routine may also be familiar, but writer-director David Koepp is less concerned with parallel-world gimmicks. This is the kind of honest and engaging story-telling that Woody Allen lost sight of. And if you never quite warmed up to that singular comedic force that is Ricky Gervais, get ready to become a fan.


Like The Sixth Sense, but with a funnier, less adorable lead star, Ghost Town is a genuinely heart-warming little movie.

I see dead people 2009/02/05 10:13 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Ricky Gervais, is like the Will Smith just a little lighter. I have been lucky to see this. It starts off slow, and then it bites you in the ass when you realize that the hoards that are following him are dead and thy want a piece of him. comedy, drama you name it i am sue he will be able to live himself into the roll. good on you Ricky
JK 2009/02/05 2:30 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
So glad I chose to watch Ghost Town instead of crap like Bride Wars and Bedtime Stories this weekend. Very sweet and clever little psychic/love story. Ricky Gervais is great to watch. He’s so ordinary, but very funny!
Justin 2009/02/06 7:49 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
So so disappointing... as a movie, it was as much of a sell-out to the American mainstream market as Run Fatboy Run was for Simon Pegg. And I am an avid Gervais fan. Oh well.
NEXT ON CHANNELX
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.