Week 39: Ghost Town

MPAA#: 44426
Showtime: 9:30
Ticket price: 10.99
Seat: center
Shotgun: Anthony, Nicole
Attendance: 7, including us
Weather: hurricane Kyle
Food: Dr. Pepper, chocolate covered raisins
Expectations: low
Met?: yes
Pre-show ads: Telus
Trailers: Flash of Genius, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Australia, The Soloist, Revolutionary Road

Last week I mentioned “Extras,” the hilarious series by Ricky Gervais about the production of movies and the fragile egos of actors. It’s a little sad that for many people who have not had the pleasure of seeing Gervais’ two brilliant TV series (or even heard his podcasts), their first exposure to him might be this movie.

Not that he acquits himself poorly in Ghost Town; Gervais is essentially asked to play a variation of his two previous characters and he does so well. What lets him (and us) down is the script, a limp and lackluster effort from veteran writer David Koepp, who ordinarily cranks out blockbusters like Spider-Man or Jurassic Park. He directed this one as well, which makes me wonder if it was a personal project; it is hard to explain otherwise.

Gervais plays an unhappy dentist who avoids people as much as possible, to the extent that he requests a general anaesthetic for a colonoscopy. When he wakes, he learns that he actually died for seven minutes on the operating table before he was revived, and that he now has the power to see ghosts. Naturally, each of the ghosts is hanging around because he or she has an unresolved problem, and one in particular (Greg Kinnear) wants him to interfere in the new relationship between his widow (Tea Leoni) and a human rights lawyer (Bill Campbell).

There are some moments of humour in Ghost Town, mainly thanks to Gervais’ apparently genuine incredulity at the triteness around him. He starts to fall in love with Leoni (of course) and she with him, because he makes her laugh. He decides to leave her to her relationship with Campbell because he wants to be happy. He realizes that he’s been a fool and starts to help the ghosts. The movie limps to the inevitable conclusion that we knew it would have from the opening scene.

This movie is a bland mixture of elements from classics like A Guy Named Joe to relatively modern fare like Meet Joe Black. Koepp has removed any dark edges that might have been possible, and as a result his movies pale beside the likes of Stay or even The Frighteners, which explore some of the same territory. I suppose it is meant to be a “big break” into American films for Gervais, but it only proves that he does his best work when he writes it himself.

Crowd reaction at end of movie: none
Weird credit(s): none
Credit cookie?: no
For further consideration: note to self, do not stand near a bus in New York City.
Opening next week: Beverly Hills Chihuahua; Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist; Blindness; Religulous; How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
Hoping for: Blindness

About Scott M

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5 Responses to Week 39: Ghost Town

  1. alex says:

    The phrase “Hoping for Blindness” made me chuckle. I had a similar reaction to the trailer for “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.” (hoping to go blind, that is. Not laughter.)

    Also, is Greg Kinnear any good in this? I do rather like him.

  2. Jay says:

    I didn’t have high hopes for this movie. In interviews, Koepp and Gervais have only talked about what went wrong and what they could have done better. Never a good sign.

  3. Anthony Stuart says:

    Nope. The only saving grace about this movie is that it did make me chuckle every once in awhile but in the end, I found it boring. And Greg Kinnear, though I usually like him, I found was very very uninteresting. And what was with the tux? šŸ˜›

  4. Scott says:

    Kinnear is OK, but he doesn’t have a lot to work with.

  5. Scott says:

    Kinnear is usually a pretty engaging guy, I find. But he’s got a knack for choosing roles that don’t give him a lot to work with – when he can stretch a bit I quite enjoy him. He’s like a male J.Lo in that way.

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