Friday, 14 November 2008

Ghost Town: Movie Review

Ghost Town: Movie Review

Rating 6/10
Cast: Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, Tea Leoni, A Very Big Dog, Alan Ruck
Director: David Koepp
Ricky Gervais takes the lead in this romantic comedy in his first step away from supporting roles in the likes of Alias, Night at the Museum and Stardust.
He's Bertram Pincus, a dentist who detests all kinds of social human contact; a man who lives for the end of the day when he can sneak out of the office, shunning a celebration and head home for the solitude and relative quiet of his Manhattan apartment.
So it's a complete shock to him, when after going in for what he believes is a routine surgery, to discover he's being stalked by all and sundry who just want a few minutes of his time.
He discovers that for seven minutes while on the operating table, he died.
His resurrection has given him the power to communicate with the ghost world which is spearheaded by Greg Kinnear's Frank Herlihy, who's killed at the start of the film.
Finding himself in a similar situation to the uber-moppet from the Sixth Sense, Pincus starts seeing dead people - everywhere.
And they're annoying the heck out of him with final wishes from beyond the grave.
But it's Kinnear's character who pushes Pincus into a mission (and the pair of them into Odd Couple territory) - to break up the impending marriage of his widow Gwen (Tea Leoni); promising if he does this for him, the dead will leave him alone for good.
Let's be frank about this - Ghost Town is going to rise or fall on how you feel about Ricky Gervais.
If you enjoy his acerbic, socially awkward character, adore his sarcasm and way with barbed quips, as well as his lack of people skills, (patented in the likes of TheOffice and Extras) then you'll pretty much be impressed with the film.
Otherwise, you may feel this hasn't risen above the standard romantic comedy fodder.
Don't get me wrong, there are some pretty funny bits during this film, and the writing for Gervais' character is spot on - and his delivery of some of the vitriol manages to fall into the comedy category rather than the vindictive one.
Whether it's the writer's intention or the whole situation, the film finds itself with nowhere to go but the predictable route - as Pincus heads toward redemption and the realisation that he needs other people to get through life.
Both Tea Leoni and Greg Kinnear acquit themselves well in their supporting roles, but this is clearly Gervais' star vehicle - and he, at times, appears to channel some of the earlier silent comedy greats like Buster Keaton and particularly Oliver Hardy with some of his frustrated expressions.
However, it's clearly an extension of the Ricky Gervais character which has been cultivated over the past decade on TV and in stand up - a slightly unlikeable buffoon, who's offensive and rude simply because he can get away with it.
One character, a naked ghost, seems to have been chosen just because he looks exactly like Gervais' long term writing partner, Stephen Merchant - and left me wondering whether Merchant wasn't available for the cameo role.
That said, there are some nice touches - including the fact all the characters sneeze when they walk through the ghosts - as well as some great throwaway lines.

Ultimately, though Ghost Town will amuse you for an hour or so, but be prepared for the slight lull towards the end when the actual realities of the plot kick in.

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