Ghost World (2001) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
497 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
This is a fine, fine film.
capkronos6 June 2002
I guess different people can extract different meanings from GHOST WORLD and all nail exactly why it was made. For me, it was the chronicle of that small group of people who don't, and probably never will, quite fit into this world. They're here on the fringes though, just existing in their own parallel universe, or their own "ghost world." Though it sounds depressing, this film is hardly a downer, it's full of humor, satire and acute observations on life. The overall production is excellent (the brightness and colors in the photography, costumes and sets is stunning)... plus it pulls off the impossible by successfully steering toward dead-on seriousness near the conclusion to drive it's point across.

It begins at graduation with Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson), two very perceptive high school outcasts who see right through the facade of their juvenile peers and want nothing to do with it. For Rebecca this self-ostracizing is just a passing phasing, but for Enid you get the strong impression this is going to always be her way of life. It's not that she doesn't get it, it's that she's doesn't understand IT or people or the games of life. There's a brief emotional turning point for Enid when a cruel practical joke backfires and she becomes involved with the target, the nerdy and very sardonic Seymour (Steve Buscemi), who may just be the kindred spirit Enid was looking for. The shared scenes between Enid and Seymour, though doomed to take a bad turn, are handled with tenderness by the director and actors and are quite memorable and touching.

Highlights are an excellent scene in a blues club that just about nails the American outlook on life and our lack of reverence and the ones in Enid's remedial art class, with the most misguided and pretentious teacher (Illeana Douglas) you could imagine. The girls are wonderful, and Steve Buscemi was unfairly overlooked at awards time (big shocker). Anyway, he's never been this good before. The fact this premise, these ideas and these original and interesting characters came from a comic book makes me realize I've completely overlooked the artistic possibilities within that medium.
191 out of 210 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Mature, intelligent and haunting (but in a good way)
JHollis11 June 2002
Movies that criticise the world can fall into many traps, leaving the viewer to feel jaded by the film's experience. Ghost World's witty appraisal of 'America' successfully avoids being childishly caustic or self-important and thus emerges as one of the best films of 2001. We sympathise with Enid (the luscious Thora Birch) without being expected to completely believe that her cynical world-view is necessarily the right one. Enid's (and her best-friend Rebecca's)negativity is turned on all around them, and their obsessive need to be cool but on their own terms sees them take post-modernism to its absurd conclusion.

Enid's bizarre costume choices mean that she stands out from the rest of her baggy-panted generation, and in one scene is infuriated that no-one, even Rebecca, understands her 'original 1977 punk look' she's testing out.

The fact that we should not fully empathise with Enid is shown by the contrasting character arc of Rebecca. There is a definite sense that she grows up over the course of the movie, but not in a "what have we learned about life" Disney way. Perhaps she has sold out to the conservative ideals that seemed so repulsive to them at the beginning of the movie, but just as Enid ultimately fulfils her desires, so does Becky live out her 'seventh grade fantasy'. The important thing is not the choices people make, but whether they make choices with which they are happy.

The movie's main targets are people who betray themselves in an effort to fit in, and their resulting stupidity by doing so. But the people who have remained true to their values (like Steve Buscemi's Seymour, in a performance that should have been at least nominated for an Academy Award), are portrayed as leading equally vacuous lives. Seymour's infrequent attempts to achieve 'normality' are galling for us to observe, and near soul-destroying for him to experience.

This is an excellent movie. Thora Birch gives her most confident performance to date, and Scarlett Johansson is superbly laconic as Enid's icy side-kick. The supporting cast all shine. Strongly recommended!
217 out of 249 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Brilliant film
Warning: Spoilers
Ghost World is a brilliant film in my opinion. Why? Just look at the message board and the comments on this website. It's amazing how much people have taken from this movie, especially a relatively lesser known one.

When I first watched this movie, it was a revelation. It was just that good of a movie. The characters, the story, the location all of it was just perfect.

Many people have related to this movie because of its "coming-of-age" or "just out of high school" aspect, and they are true in describing this movie in those terms. But what I really thought was great was how this movie, to me, was about the search for something meaningful and more importantly for Enid, something "real", especially more so in our often contrived and plastic modern world.

That's where "Ghost World" comes in. It is described as so because if you look at the setting of the movie, you can not really tell where in the United States it takes place in. It could be virtually any one of the suburban areas that has sprung up in the past couple of decades. It's true that there is a great deal of comfort and leisure, but at the same time there is a lack of soul. Its not the big city, where they try to emulate its culture and activities, nor the small town, where they try to emulate its sense of tranquility and community, but rather a facade of both, ending up being none. No one is truly happy, yet everyone puts a smile on, and that is what really bothers Enid, I believe. Its a world where sterile hip-hop music is used to celebrate a high school graduation, authentic 50s diners are anything but, and a white "blues" band sing about picking cotton all day long for the man. All contrived, all far removed from its source, all as real as a slushie from the Sidewinder food store.

After all why is she attracted to Seymour? I don't think because he's the dorky record collector with a sour outlook on life, but because he is honest about it. He's not a stuffy collector who claims to know everything, but a guy with a passion for something, even if it isn't something "cool". Even with the Coon Chicken incident you can see that its sincerity that Enid is searching for. Enid is not a racist but she picks the Coon Chicken ad for her art project because it reflects how little society has have not changed, even if it whitewashed itself. Like Seymour said people still hate each other but they hide it better.

Rebecca on the other hand seems to have accepted that society and life at large kinda sucks, so she "sells out" by working at the coffee shop, which is an obvious Starbuck's knock off. But in my opinion, she just realized that she can't change the world and how it is, so she goes on a different road from Enid's. A scene which highlights this is when she shows a liking for brightly colored glasses for her new apartment, while Enid gawks at her for being overtly excited for cups. But who's to say that Rebecca is wrong for liking those cups? How is it different from Seymour's fascination of 75s? Rebecca may have changed some throughout the movie, but at her core she remains to be the cynical and independent person that she is.

Finally, Enid goes away from it all, fulfilling her desire to one day to disappear from it all, because it seems that she can not rely on anyone, not even Norman the bus bench guy. Rebecca is working most of the time, her father is marrying the person she dreads (showing a disinterest or plain aloofness in Enid's life), her art teacher is a talentless hack who doesn't really care for her (or any of her students really, even though she pretends to) since she didn't fight for her after the art show debacle and Seymour disappointed her twice. First by dating a person whom he knows is not his type, yet he conforms to her (literally, just look at those tight jeans she bought him!) and secondly becoming overtly renewed in his relationship with Enid only after a night where Enid and Seymour took their relationship to bed(with a help of a bottle of champagne.

Did Enid commit suicide in the end? Personally I don't think so, it would be such a surrealistic end to a story that is steeped in realism, but that is another reason why Ghost World is such a great movie. There is such an open space for interpretation and such depth that one can talk about it for hours, discussing about it and getting more out it with every viewing of the movie. There's a whole lot more than what I just wrote about, but I don't want to bore you with my interpretation, and there are other things in the movie that other people see in it that I might have missed or disagree with.

But thats a mark of a good movie. Just look at the message board for yourself.
117 out of 136 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Join the human race... or not.
awalter125 June 2001
Best friends Enid and Rebecca graduate from high school and find themselves forced to enter the real world. Enid (more than Rebecca) is a counter-culture rebel who hates this world of frauds and losers, and she subsequently has trouble getting and keeping a job. One day the girls decide to play a prank on a lonely middle-aged loser named Seymour. Their plan backfires, though, and Enid becomes a little obsessed with the man. First she feels sorry for Seymour, then he becomes something of a hero to her, and she resolves to help him at least find a girlfriend. "Maybe I just can't stand the thought of a world where a guy like you can't get a date," she tells him. Meanwhile, Enid seems to be avoiding the challenge of getting her own life started.

Terry Zwigoff ("Crumb") directs this film based on a script by Dan Clowes, who also created the original comic book. "Ghost World" attempts to be a kitsch-free, counter-culture coming-of-age film, and for the most part it succeeds. The characters are very believable, honest, and engaging. The downbeat Seymour is played wonderfully by Steve Buscemi, and Thora Birch in her striking performance as Enid follows up her "American Beauty" role with another discontent but sympathetic misfit teen character. Perhaps the greatest disappointment in "Ghost World," however, is that Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca is marginalized midway through the film. Regarding the story: It is debatable whether the film is entirely free of kitsch. As with "American Beauty," the sudden romantic opportunities which fall into Seymour's lap smell suspiciously of middle-aged wish fulfillment. Also, one might ask for a slightly tighter ending, as the film finishes without much resolution--except for one rather simple but touching scene between Enid and Seymour. On the whole, however, the film is a delight, producing some very memorable characters to whom, in the end, the audience will be sorry to say goodbye.
93 out of 118 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Waking Life
Benedict_Cumberbatch20 January 2008
"We graduated from high school. How totally amazing", says a sarcastic Enid Coleslaw (Thora Birch, in the best performance of her career), at the beginning of "Ghost World". Enid and her best friend, Rebecca (a 15 year-old Scarlett Johansson) discuss how much they longed for their graduation day, and when it finally came, it wasn't as cheerful as they were expecting. While Rebecca finds a job and tries to move on, Enid doesn't know what to do with her life and spends most of her time with Seymour (Steve Buscemi, playing the most humane variation of all the 'losers' he's been playing his whole life, and that's why he's so great at it), a lonely older man whose biggest pleasure is collecting rare, old records.

The more I watch "Ghost World", the more I like it. This is a very special, really beautiful film, that speaks to the heart. It's both hilarious (really one of the funniest films I've ever seen - Enid's yard sale, her first day of work at a movie theater, just to name a couple of favourite scenes, crack me up every time) and moving, with a bittersweet feel to it that's underlined by David Kitay's musical theme. Terry Zwigoff's ("Crumb") script, co-written by Daniel Clowes based on his own comic books, has a remarkable respect for its characters, most of them adorable and pathetic at once - including Josh (Brad Renfro), a boy Enid and Rebecca love to mess around with. One week ago, when I was re-watching this movie with some friends who had never seen it, we commented on how miserable Josh is - and how sad it was to hear about Renfro's premature death a few days later.

If you ever felt lost in your own world, not knowing what do with your life, you're gonna relate to this film. The feeling I get from it is a little similar to THAT other film with Scarlett Johansson, the sublime "Lost in Translation". For me, any movie as sincere and well crafted as "Ghost World" and "Lost in Translation" is a classic, and deserves a spot on my all-time favourites' list. 10/10.
53 out of 65 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An excellent parable about disaffected youth
lauraeileen8941 September 2007
Terry Zwigoff has created an excellent parable about disaffected youth in "Ghost World". The character of Enid (memorably played by Thora Birch) is a sardonic iconoclast, and a bit of a hero to me. She has her own style, speaks her razor sharp mind, and truly doesn't care what people think about her. Picture a female, proactive version of Holden Caulfield. I desperately wish I were more like Enid when I was in high school.

Enid's partner in crime is Rebecca (Scarlett Johannson), who has one foot in the offbeat world Enid inhabits, and the other foot in the mainstream world Enid loathes. Rebecca's one of those types who never seem to mean what they're saying, not because of dishonesty, but because of lack of self-knowledge and security. When these two pals start to drift apart after they graduate from high school, Enid latches on to champion loser Seymour (Steve Buschemi, who seems to live for these kinds of roles), a devoted record collector. Through one long, seemingly uneventful summer, Enid takes a good look at the world around her, and a painful series of events force her to find her own place in it.

I adored this anti-"teen movie", and it was so refreshing to see a heroine who wasn't a blandly blonde, pool cue shaped cheerleader who spouted out adorable one-liners. Enid is a proud loner and rebel, who wears her crazy wardrobe and Truman Capote glasses with pride. Zwigoff never allows the movie to be Hollywood saccharine or indie film depressing. It's full of realistic, human characters we've all known at one time or another. I was further amazed by how true to life "Ghost World" is. Nothing in the film turns out the way you expect it to, but, really, isn't that just the same as life?
54 out of 67 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Deadpan comic revulsion
moonspinner5530 October 2002
Two female high school grads plan to get jobs and hang together, but bonds become frayed and paths separate after one of the girls ends up on an unintended journey of self-discovery. From the comic-book which takes a perverse delight in celebrating the geeky side of all of us, "Ghost World" is profane and cynical, but also surprisingly blithe and bright. I rather enjoyed it but realize it's not for every taste. Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson are incredibly rich and vivid in their roles (low-keyed, deadpan, but not blanks); their love-hate friendship is convincing and blessedly free of melodramatics--even they seem to cherish the personality conflicts that come up, it may give them more ammunition. As for the ending, I'm not sure whether it is ingenious or a cop-out, but it did leave me touched (in a bemused, nostalgic way). A movie with much to offer. ***1/2 from ****
45 out of 56 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
For those of us who tire of standard teen movies, here's the film to make our day. **** (out of four)
Movie-1217 January 2002
GHOST WORLD / (2001) **** (out of four)

For those of us who tire of standard teen movies, here's the film to brighten our day. It's a monkey wrench in the cranks of the tedious genre that features actors in their mid-twenties portraying stereotypical high-school characters shamelessly indulging predictable plots of frivolous romance. Where most movies set in high schools find resolve in romantics, "Ghost World" dares to be different.

Yet it contains all the usual ingredients-aimless main characters, one-dimensional side characters, high school graduation, moronic parents, sexual revelations, a romance-but it tastes different. This movie doesn't believe high school is the root of youth complications; it knows that school isn't where the confusion lies-it's after graduation when the complexities begin.

The movie opens as a high school senior dances along with a music video. Sounds like a typical teenager? Well, not really. The music this girl listens to isn't exactly mainstream. Nothing about Enid (Thora Birch from "American Beauty") is ordinary.

The same goes for her best friend, Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson). She is slightly more focused than the aimless Enid, but, as they graduate from high school in the opening scenes, neither of them know what they want out of life.

Rebecca and Enid find interesting people to follow, exploit, and embarrass, just for their own leisure, but even this loses its edge. Making the most (or least) of their situation, the girls stumble upon an outstandingly pathetic personal ad. As a joke, they respond. However, when they meet this man, Enid becomes infatuated with him.

In their post high school days, Enid and Rebecca find themselves slowly drifting apart. Rebecca is eager to get an apartment and get on with her life, while Enid lives by the day, following one infatuation after another. As their attitudes gradually change from cynical to sober, Enid and Rebecca's emerging differences become blatantly obvious, but painfully realized.

"Ghost World" refers to the world in which these characters live, a town slowly being overcome by shopping malls and coffee shops; a town that slowly loses its distinctions and becomes a ghost of what it once was.

My small town of Mason, MI speaks for itself. Once a minuscule farming suburb of the state's capital, it's now a breeding ground for new subdivisions, factories, stores, gas stations, trailer parks, and businesses. Before you know it, it will be a densely populated city like the capital itself.

"Ghost World" makes harsh points, but it never loses its sense of humor. Enid is so full of bitter cynicism that we have to laugh. She indulges the dialogue. It's often tactlessly frank, savoring every opportunity to bash, thrash, ridicule, or insult anyone or anything for any reason.

Society tends to repress our caustic desire to insult a fellow man, but "Ghost World" doesn't hesitate. It takes a lot of risks, but never steps in the wrong direction. It connects us with these characters. They are so casually antisocial that we can't help but to love them. At times, the movie doesn't require dialogue. It simply examines the character's surroundings. We get to know these people so well, we know exactly what they're thinking before they say it. They are a part of our instincts to react on impulse.

But a character is only as good as the actor behind it. "Ghost World" features enormously engaging performances. Brad Renfro gives his nobody store clerk a raw blandness. Illeana Douglas injects a kind of controlled eccentricity into her role as an art teacher. Steve Buscemi creates a hopeless record player collector out of repressed emotion, and lack thereof.

Scarlett Johansson gives Rebecca a dry, depressed mood. Thora Birch steals the whole show with a straightforward, fearless performance. Although the movie never defines the relationship between Enid and Rebecca, the actors themselves make it clear. They create an enticing charisma that gradually turns to an awkward tension.

"Ghost World" captures part of our journey from childhood to adulthood with poetic grace and cynical wit. Though it's not really a coming-of-age film, where a young character finally takes a place in the world. Enid never finds her place, decides her future, or chooses a path. By the end of the story, she simply becomes aware of her possible options. This movie is just the beginning of her story.
119 out of 160 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
changed my life.
unendurable_lampoonery27 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
this movie caught my attention when i was 14. i was going through an amazingly difficult time in my life, and this movie changed my view on everything. i had not read the graphic novel or even really heard about this film, which my mother rented and to be honest i looked at it and judged it as another stupid chick flick i didn't care to see. but my mum wanted to watch it, so i decided to sit down with her. from the first scene overlooking middle class America it struck me, as a well made movie. the character Enid, was almost a mirror image of how i was feeling at the time, and now when i watch it i almost see her as selfish, but i still feel a lot of emotions for her. now i see myself as Seymour (played by the amazing Steve Buscemi) me, myself being a somewhat excessive compulsive collector (of film not 78 records) and also not being able to get on with 95% of humanity. Terry Zwigoff is a master director who i believe deserves a lot more credit than he gets. this movie captures not just female teenage life, but teenage life wonderfully. i actually have a tattoo of this movie it means so much to me, i love it and always will have a special spot in my heart. i watch it twice a year and i don't get sick of it, in fact i pick up more every viewing. "i don't know what to say, i think it's a remarkable achievement."
7 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Walking Through Your Life As Nothing Else Moves.
tfrizzell1 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Two high school outcasts (Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson) graduate and it appears that the duo will continue to be best friends. They seek out work and a place to live, but before that they go around and make fun of seemingly everyone around them. The situations are quirky and hilarious, but soon they pull a prank on a lonely man (Steve Buscemi) that leaves Birch feeling sorry for the stranger. Thus Birch, with Johansson in tow, decide to meet Buscemi and the results are mixed at best. However the strangest of relationships starts as Birch makes it a goal to find a woman that Buscemi can date. Meanwhile Johansson accepts what she must do and starts to work at a local Starbucks. Birch, totally unsure of what she wants to do with her life (both personally and professionally), begins to drift away from her best friend just as Buscemi finds a woman he likes (Stacy Travis). Oddly Birch becomes jealous of this development and does her best to keep Buscemi single and miserable (like herself obviously). Birch struggles through with all this plus a home-life that she dislikes as her father (the priceless Bob Balaban) starts to re-create a relationship with a woman that she has always hated (the uncredited Teri Garr in a short cameo). She also spends her days taking a remedial art class so she can indeed finalize her high school diploma. "Ghost World" is an immensely interesting experience as Birch (best known for "American Beauty") and Johansson (who is an amazing young talent, just think "Lost in Translation") are totally believable as youngsters with quiet angst and sadness issues. Their slow divergence as the film progresses is a hard thing to view because you know that neither want that. Buscemi is amazing as a loner who mirrors the two youngsters (Birch in particular). Co-writers Terry Zwigoff (who also directed) and Daniel Clowes received Oscar nominations for a script that was actually adapted from a comic book (no kidding). This is a wonderfully smart and poignant black comedy that is arguably the best production from the teen genre. It is to the 2000s what "Rebel Without a Cause" was to the 1950s and what "American Graffiti" was to the 1970s. There are also shades of Bob Rafelson's "Five Easy Pieces" here. An under-rated and exceptional gem. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
48 out of 64 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
So totally cult
buddypatrick13 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Ghost World (2001), by cult director Terry Zwigoff (Bad Santa (2003)) is aimed at the intelligent, open minded and cultured teenagers who are aware of what is ahead of them, yet choose to enjoy the life of a child and not wanting to grow up. Keeping in mind it is a film, it could be enjoyed by anyone.

Amazing to see a teenaged-based film that doesn't revolve around titties, toilet humor, beer and drugs but more so revolves around culture and intelligence and pushes the fact that not all teenagers are useless. In fact there are many teenagers out there who are rather intelligent, mature and wise beyond their years yet still like their basic humour associated with other peoples demise, which in this film, is done amazingly well and it is quite relatable when we see Enid and Rebecca laughing at the "satanists" in the diner. My friends and I usually laugh at that typical fat, dirty old man in the city who hits on young girls or those freaky-looking folks who have no sense of fashion, which, as mean as it is, is just a little fun, which is exactly what these girls do and this relates to modern teenagers.

What Ghost World also holds is mountains and mountains of culture all dating way back to the 1960's Bollywood films and the 1970's underground music which is so satisfying to see now as so many people my age don't comprehend or care for, they prefer trash that MTV spits in our faces and know we'll love it and buy but the thing is, because the majority is rather culturally inept and likes anything dating from 2001 to modern times, leaves the other types left out, where do they go? They must dig and dig under all this modern pop culture to find the real hip stuff, the real cool stuff that our mothers and fathers listened to and watched when they were kids, and Ghost World is satisfying because its so up to date with the minority and yet references so many musicians, artists and films and its striking out to those MTV kids and others, the MTV kids who don't know who Pink Floyd is, or the ones who've never heard of the film Midnight Express or 8½ which is even mentioned in this film. It's a relief and leaves a smile on such non-conformist types, the ones who aren't "emo" or "gangsta" or this or that. It could be for everyone of course, but this film is clearly aimed at particular audiences.

Now, on with the actual film itself. I would say apart from the great style and culture of the movie, its still great; acting, characters, story, ending, everything. The whole movie is brilliance in a bottle. Enid and Rebecca, best friends, alternative hip kids, have just graduated school rolling their eyes over their fellow pop loving peers but Enid doesn't want to grow up, she doesn't want to change herself for a bunch of customers at a job, she doesn't want to move out of home. She wants to be in a kid forever, which so many kids our age can relate to. Many of us don't want to grow up. Where Rebecca is mature and all, she's waiting for Enid to move into an apartment with her and get a job but Enid is far too busy with her nerdy record collecting friend Seymour who she previously stood up for as a joke. As time goes on Enid spends more and more of her spare time with Seymour, and ends up losing her school certificate because she didn't turn up to the art show and everything for her falls apart. "Ever wanted to just disappear and no one would ever ask what happened to you" Enid said to Rebecca. "No." She replies.

As we saw previously in the film, an old senile man waits at the bus stop for a bus that doesn't come by anymore. Enid says to him at some stage "ever since my life fell apart you're the only one I can rely on because I know you'll always be here" or something along those lines, where as, this somewhat explains that Enid's entire world is changing, except this one lonesome man at the bus stop but once he says he is leaving this means her entire life is changing. He catches the bus symbolizing everything has changed for Enid. Even in the end, Enid has caught that same bus which represents after all the things Enid has put herself through she is finally accepting to grow up and start her life. A great, relatable and cultured film, with for me ranks grade A marks in my book. This film is beyond recommendation; this film should be seen by everyone, whether you like it or not, you can't just be ignorant, you have to look into this film and analysis it.
10 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great movie
I love this movie. It is so simple. Just an episode from the lives of two girls who have just finished high school. Nothing fancy, nothing spectacular, or unusual. Just a situation that we've all been through, but shown through a different set of eyes.

The performances by Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson (hottie), and Steve Buscemi are very good and the story is heart warming and often very funny.

Movies like this are seldom and Hollywood tends to make it's films unnecessarily spectacular these days. It sometimes works, but is often quite ridiculous. Think - Michael Bay.

This is film is highly recommended to anyone who cares about life. 10/10

Rated R: profanity
86 out of 130 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The meaning of "Ghost World"
steve freeman16 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I liked this movie very much, not so much while watching (we were expecting more of a comedy), but upon reflecting that night. To me, "Ghost World," the title, refers to a world that's no longer alive to the main characters, especially Enid, though also to a lesser degree Rebecca and Seymour. Enid's life is no in longer in the world in which she has grown up, certainly not with her father, and not being carried along with the mainstream thoughtlessness and a lock-step life (e.g., just going to college cause everyone else does). But neither is the plan she long shared with Rebecca -- working in a whatever-type job and living independently -- working out. The idea of moving in with Seymour and becoming his girlfriend was borne of a sentiment of desperation that she almost immediately recognized as such.

The movie is about growing up and moving on from ghosts and into life, and how hard, but necessary that is. I wasn't thrilled with the Norman/Bus story line, but I understand it as a metaphor. It seems as though there is no bus-line out of town, but in fact there is. Enid "doesn't know what (she's) talking about" when she repeats what everyone knows and what is written on the bench about this line not being in service. The one person she imagines will always be there, crazy Norman waiting for the bus, in fact, leaves on that bus. She sees both that no one is always there as you might want them to be, and also that it is possible to leave. Having attempted but not surrendered to the unsatisfactory options in her world (she won't toe the company line at her movie-theater job, won't accept life with a totally out-of-touch father and fiancée, and won't become Seymour's girlfriend/wife), she realizes after a great deal of probably necessary pain that if she is to join the world of the living, she, too, must leave what has become her Ghost World.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Excellent Cult-Movie
Claudio Carvalho10 December 2005
Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) are best friends having difficulties in social attitude with other people. After graduating in high-school, they decide to get a job and rent a house of their own. However, Enid need to attend the Arts summer school to graduate and the unsociable behavior of Enid makes her lose her job. Meanwhile, they play a prank with Seymour (Steve Buscemi), a middle-age collector of long-plays record that feels also difficulties of relationship, and Seymour and Enid become friends. Along the days, Enid reaches maturity and a different view of life.

"Ghost World" is an excellent low-budget cult-movie nominated for Oscar in the category of Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published and awarded in another twenty-five (25) prizes plus twenty-four (24) nominations in different festivals. The caustic and mature adolescent-coming-to-age story is centered in the weird and rebel Enid facing and overcoming the need to join the real world after the high-school period, and is brilliantly directed by Terry Zwigoff, who also writes the wonderful screenplay with Daniel Clowes. The performance of Thora Birch, probably in her best role, also deserved a nomination to the Oscar. Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi and the supporting cast are also awesome. I really loved "Ghost World" a lot, and I would like to thank my great movie-lover friend Ricardo that recommended this gem. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Ghost World – Aprendendo a Viver" / a.k.a. "Mundo Cão" ("Ghost World – Leaning to Live" / "Dog's World")
48 out of 72 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Memorable film, my favourite of Terry Zwigoff
RainDogJr27 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is the story of Enid (Tora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) after they finish the high school. Both have problems to be related with people and they spend their time hanging around and bothering creeps. When they met Seymour (Steve Buscemi) who is a social outsider who loves to collect old vinyl records, the life of Enid will change forever.

The screenplay of this memorable film was based on a comic book with the same name, created by Daniel Clowes. The plot is very simple but excellent and there are a lot of memorable dialogs and two memorable characters that makes this film as one of the most original films ever and that is, without a doubt, Terry Zwigoff's masterpiece. The way that the film start, when we can see how Enid and Rebecca spend their time, is really strange in consequence of the strange attitude of the characters . I mean when they follow the "satanic" couple is really bizarre but later they just forget about them in less than a minute and they stop in a restaurant, and it's even more bizarre. And there are lots of this kind of scenes that makes this characters truly memorable and the best thing is that they are believable. And the other main character, Seymour, is also great. The lines of all the characters are really great and the critic to the ignorant society too, specially the scene when a man is looking for the film "8 1/2" by Fellini and the video clerk give him the film "Nine 1/2 Weeks" with Mickey Rourke.

Well, the cast is perfect; Tora Birch is amazing in the best character of the film, Scarlett Johansson is perfect in all the ways and Steve Buscemi is excellent like always in a memorable character. The rest of the cast is excellent too like the rest of the secondary characters like Josh (Brad Renfro) or Roberta Allsworth (Illeana Douglas). And the music is another perfect thing of this film just like in every other masterpiece like this one.

Conclusion: i really love this film that is highly re-watchable and for me is one the best films of the 00's and amazingly original. I haven't read the comic book but Daniel Clowes, the creator, write the film too so i think is very similar to the comic book, that i'm going to get soon. So watch this film, is funny thanks to the great satire to the society but also is sad thanks to one character who doesn't know what to do with her life and is quite disappointed with the rest of the world. A ghost world. 10 out of 10
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Another gem in the wasteland of tired old teen movies
DAVID SIM19 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The end of high school can be a polarizing experience. On the one hand, its the start of a whole new and exciting life. But on the other, its a terrifying prospect. Its the first time in a young person's life when they can get out into the real world and see what lies in wait for them. Either exciting surprises or grave disappointments.

Ghost World, my choice for best teen film of 2001, neatly captures the mindset of anguished teenagers at this particular crossroads in life. Its not always accessible, but in this day and age of cookie cutter teen fodder, that's something of a relief.

The two teens Ghost World chooses to observe are Enid and Rebecca, both wonderfully played by Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson. The opening scene witnesses their high school graduation. Something Enid & Rebecca greet with almost casual indifference. Their lives are undeniably changing, they just haven't decided if its for better or worse.

Ghost World is a film that seems to occupy a bizarre buffer zone between two netherworlds. Its a skewed vision of suburbia, not unlike something out of a Tim Burton or a John Waters film. And director Terry Zwigoff paints a quite appealing portrait of an oddball utopia slowly being swallowed up by "progress" such as mini-marts and consumerism.

Enid & Rebecca are casual observers. Anything that falls below their radar, you can bet Enid will have some witty rejoinder or dry comment dripping in sarcasm on hand, while Rebecca stands off to the side mulling it over and chipping in if and when necessary.

The film charts the deterioration of their friendship. Although Enid is in no hurry to grow up and get on with things, Rebecca senses an inevitability to her life. Being a non-conformist is one thing, but at some point, we all have to conform to some of life's expectations of us.

Rebecca gets a job at Starbucks (or something like it) and goes apartment hunting for herself and Enid. Things like these don't interest Enid. She's trapped in a perpetual fantasy. A bubble she believes will remain intact. And when she does try to follow Rebecca's example, doing a regular job, its like watching a dog walk on its hind legs.

Enid wasn't meant for normal life. She loves to stand out from everyone around her. And she has an eclectic wardrobe for each and every (social) occasion. Rebecca may be an outsider too, but perhaps she recognises it as one of life's many phases.

So with Enid & Rebecca growing further and further apart, Enid finds solace in Seymour (a perfectly cast Steve Buscemi), a record collector unlucky in love. Enid plays a rather cruel joke on Seymour by responding to a personal ad he put in the paper. She stands him up, sort of, by observing him from a distance (like she does with everything), and becomes fascinated by this oddity of a man.

She senses a kindred spirit in Seymour. Someone who doesn't fit in, a social misfit, and inept at life's ironies. But when she actually gets Seymour a date, he starts spending less and less time with Enid. And as Enid's perfectly perceptive world falls apart, she spirals into depression and despair.

Ghost World is the type of teen film you pray for, and when it finally comes, you almost feel like slapping yourself in astonishment. A teen film that's witty, sharp but most of all, perceptive. Also one of its nicest touches is the fact it stars actual teenagers for a change, not adults ten years older.

Ghost World comes with a positively anti-authoritarian stamp on it. I sense Terry Zwigoff is a bit of a non-conformist himself. And he's selected two superb actresses to carry the film off with aplomb.

Thora Birch is the undisputed star. She so neatly captures Enid's character you couldn't imagine anyone else in the role. Her performance is so wonderful the way it rotates from cynicism, intuition and eventually gut-wrenching despair. Each line of dialogue she delivers to perfection. From capital letter to full stop. And yet despite being attuned to the world around her, she is naive in her way. She has the vain belief things will always stay the same. Observing the world at a coldly detached distance. But as the world makes her a participant, its something that shatters her world forever. What an impressive, heartbreaking performance from someone so young.

Ghost World came at a time just before Scarlett Johansson's career took off. And although she doesn't get as much screen time as Birch, she's equally impressive. She quite modestly allows Birch to take the spotlight because she knows its Enid's life story that's captured our interest. Johansson's performance is more subtle than Birch's, but she is necessary, because she provides an effective counterpoint to Enid's role without having to do very much at all. Which is why Scarlett Johansson is such a wonderful actress. But she'd have to wait for Lost in Translation to show her true mettle, where she plays a character not all that different from Rebecca.

Steve Buscemi is in his element as Seymour. He's the man we hope to never become. Buscemi is known for choosing quirky, off-centre roles and Seymour is no exception. A man of few joys and even fewer accomplishments.

The crux of Ghost World is Enid. What she slowly senses is that her defiantly defended role as life's abject observer can't go on forever. One day, she will have to grow up. And perhaps she does at the end. The last thing we ever see of her is getting on a bus. Where she's going is a mystery. But at least she's getting out of town. Perhaps progress has finally caught up with Enid.

Cherish Ghost World. Its the perfect antidote to predictable teen movies and their comfortable clichés.
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
It's not Daria, and if you don't get it, don't bitch
eeuuhombre4 April 2004
The first time I saw this movie I f***ing went insane! Best movie I had ever seen! I saw it on the first day of school that year, so it started me off pumped. It meant so much to me, and accentuated and made sense of many parts of my life. I cannot explain how close I am to this movie. My best fiend saw it with me too, and we have been a lot closer since then.

It was very smartly written, realistic as hell- not necessarily the actions, but the feelings behind the actions taken in this movie.

It is basically about this girl named Enid (Thora Birch) who has just graduated high school, and doesn't know where her life is going. She quickly discriminates against others, though I think that most of the time, she is justified. Enid and her friend Rebecca are spending the whole movie thinking about getting an apartment, but Enid procrastinates. She basically stops caring about anything that will help her in life, and entertains herself by hating everything that she can. This makes her depressed, and she loves it. Enid becomes involved with an older jazz/ragtime enthusiast named Seymour (Steve Buscemi) who has issues relating to others. Enid likes/ is intrigued by him, and feels that he can relate to her better than anyone else that she knows in her world. Seymour is her drug. As a drama, Ghost World was great. The first half of the movie, though, was one of the funniest, darkest setups I have ever seen. A lot of sarcastic humor that many would call ______ist, but whatever. It's got some of the best one liners I've ever heard. I will not go on and on about the ending, because other reviewers have overly voiced their 10 line opinions about how it's so good that it's gone past bad and back to good again or really "sucky and artsy". About the ending, I will say this- It is not a normal Hollywood ending. That's good. Hollywood is redundant.

"A tampon in a teacup?"

"It's my response to a women's right to choose. It's something I feel super strongly about!"
73 out of 133 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
You'll either get it or you won't - but if you do, it's just wonderful.
Lee Osborne6 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I first saw Ghost World when it was on limited release in the UK in 2001 - I didn't know much about the film at all before I saw it, but I liked the posters that appeared on the Underground station where I worked at the time, and so I showed up at the cinema expecting a typical teen comedy. What I got was completely unexpected, and nearly eleven years later, I'm still utterly obsessed with this wonderful and pretty much unique film. I saw it four times in the cinema, and have seen it several times since - and every time, it delights me and something new strikes me.

It's an adaptation from a Daniel Clowes comic of the same name, and follows school friends Enid and Rebecca as they graduate from high school and attempt to find their way in the world. The comic is a masterpiece of observational dark comedy, and the film adaptation is different in some ways, adding a couple of elements to connect together some rather disjointed aspects of the comic. Enid's art class and the character of Seymour are absent in the comic, but their presence works well in the film and does give it more of a narrative structure, something that is needed with a film.

Let me just say that I fell in love with Enid right from the start, even though she isn't a sympathetic character in a lot of ways. She can be snide, sarcastic, rude, inconsistent, unreliable and flaky, and is all these things in various quantities throughout the film. Still, there's something intelligent and independent about her, despite her struggles with alienation, insecurity, depression and loneliness. All the way through the film, she struggles to find something authentic and real in a rather fake and shallow world. Whilst at school, she was close friends with Rebecca, but after they leave, they gradually drift apart, and Rebecca seems content to take a conventional path. Enid's world rather painfully falls apart, which is touching, sad and poignant to watch.

Enid and Rebecca are played to perfection by Thora Birch and Scarlett Johannson, but Enid IS this film - Thora's performance is just perfect and she gets everything right. The script is amazing as well. Enid and Rebecca's world is populated by a wonderful selection of freaks and misfits who are all both funny and tragic at the same time, and some of my favourites include the awesomely pretentious art teacher ("mirror, father, mirror"), Doug at the convenience store ("you have to buy me dinner first!") and Melorra, the girl who desperately tries to befriend Enid and Rebecca but fails dismally.

The cinematography is spot-on and the film is bursting with colour, which works really well despite the bleak tone some of it takes. The pace is slow and at times it's hard to feel that much is actually happening, and some people intensely dislike the film for this reason, but if you keep your eyes open, you'll observe a huge amount of fantastic detail in the film, which is all a razor-sharp observation on alienation and the nature of the world we live in. The sets are very convincing and Enid's bedroom in particular is done to perfection, closely resembling the rooms of many of my friends when I was in my teens.

You'll either like Enid or hate her, and if you can't sympathise or empathise with her, there's not much in this film for you and you'll be better off elsewhere. It's one of the film's awesome strengths that the characters are so complex - I've always really disliked films where the goodies and baddies are very obvious right from the start, and where everything is neat and tidy. It's left to the viewer to decide who the heroes and villains of the piece are, and that's enough to provoke endless discussion. It's a film that's full of ambiguity, and the end is far from neat and tidy, but that is, I feel, very much what the book and film set out to do - show us that life is often ambiguous, vague and not how we expect it to be. The ending, in particular, diverges enormously from typical teen movies and there's no romantic end where Enid gets her man, and there's no place at college or dream job. In fact, the ending has been the source of constant debate since the film was released, as it could be viewed in a number of ways.

(WARNING - SPOILERS) I won't go into too much detail, as you should see the ending for yourself without me giving too much away, but Enid effectively leaves town for an uncertain future. That's the literal interpretation. A commonly-held view is that the ending is a metaphor for suicide, and that Enid kills herself. I don't think this is the view of the author or director, and it's certainly not a view I hold myself, as that would be too awful and ghastly to contemplate. I see the ending as an attempt at a new start, and my own feeling is that there *is* a place in this world for Enid somewhere, and that she's going to find it, after a long struggle. The comic alludes to this more than the film does. However you choose to view it, though, the ending is challenging and can be hard to deal with, but finishes off this clever, funny and thought-provoking film in fine style.

Possibly one of the greatest films about adolescence we will ever see.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
One for us geeks.
BA_Harrison23 September 2008
Thora Birch (surely the perfect poster girl for all nerds, male and female) stars as Enid, an intelligent, artistic and sensitive girl who becomes friends with obsessive record collector Seymour (Steve Buscemi) after playing a mean joke on him. As her relationship with Seymour develops, her bond with school-friend Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) begins to crumble.

Akin in many ways to introspective indie fare such as Lost in Translation, Napolean Dynamite, American Beauty, Secretary, and Sideways, Ghost World is a quirky, meandering, satirical study of social outcasts in a world that demands conformity, and, as such, isn't going to find much of a following with your average Blockbuster crowd.

Those hoping to see a laugh-out-loud comedy should definitely seek entertainment elsewhere: although there are some painfully accurate insights into the lives of its likable losers that will bring a wry smile to the faces of those who don't quite qualify as normal, the droll humour will leave Mr and Mrs. Average Joe straight faced and reaching for the off switch.

And anyone looking for a film with a feel-good factor should also hit the stop button: if you're not in the mood for a film that takes a leisurely, measured approach to a tale about doomed relationships and uncertainty about the future, you'll find the film rather annoying.

There are those, however, for whom the film will definitely resonate and no doubt become a firm favourite: disaffected youths, geeks, losers, and weirdos who are able to identify with the main characters' lack of direction in life and sense of confusion at the world around them. They (or should that be 'we'?) will be the ones to fully appreciate this subtle and poignant cinematic journey of self-discovery, which delivers excellent performances from its talented cast (Buscemi, in particular, is superb), confident direction from Terry Zwigoff, and a memorably daft character who sports a mean mullet and a pair of nunchuks!
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A good quirky little film
refresh daemon1 February 2007
I was surprised to find that Ghost World is a comic book adaptation. The film is full of quirkiness and a same-time embracing of geeks/dorks as well as pitying them. We start with two semi-outcast high school students graduating high school. From then, we primarily follow Enid (Thora Birch), who finds herself in an existential phase of her life, having escaped from her hated experience, but finding herself in a meaningless and pointless world, with little direction of her own. And this is a comedy that somehow works, even when burdened by such philosophical weight.

The comedy in Ghost World is not the gut-busting type, but rather the quiet situational type that's amusing. At the same time, as we laugh at the nerds, geek, freaks, dorks and dweebs that inhabit Ghost World, the film works to humanize them in our eyes and raise a sympathy for them. Suddenly their eccentricities seem less strange and more interesting. And like Enid, we find ourselves drawn to them.

This film has a bit in common in terms of tone with the heavier American Splendor as well as the lighter Napoleon Dynamite, featuring an offbeat humor style and complete with curious characters. Despite the comedy, this film is a drama at its core, dealing with a youth's entry to the "real world", complete with all its harshness and disappointments. As we watch the film, we see her best-friendship with Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) tested, struggle with young love and infatuation and try to find her way in a world that doesn't feed her direction, but asks her to discover it for herself. And like many young people, she finds it very difficult to deal with the responsibility.

And in the drama, we find the heart of the film, watching Enid with compassionate eyes through her struggles.

Steve Buscimi completes the primary cast as Seymour, a jazz/blues geek who Enid takes on as her first mission once she graduates, finding in him a sort of spiritual corollary. The performances are solid, with the humor played deadpan and the drama dramatic. The direction is of the classic invisible Hollywood style and the pace of the film is fine. I think the ending is a little bit of a cop-out, but I guess that's how some stories go.

I thought it was a good, quirky little film and if you're a fan of those kinds of films, I'd recommend Ghost World to you. 8/10
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
"Look at me- I'm not even listening to a word you're saying"
MarieGabrielle1 April 2006
Enid (Thora Birch) says to her father, as he tells her where she could apply for a job. The film encompasses surrealism, depression, teen angst and people who feel disenfranchised. Basically, everyone.

As one reviewer mentioned, it is not a formulaic Disney movie, nor is it a Gothic depressive movie, like "Disturbing Behavior" or other teen movies. This film actually stands out on its own, and the performances are excellent. Steve Buscemi is believable and sympathetic as the local loser who Enid and her friend decide to stalk. Ileana Douglas portrays Enid's art teacher (classically quirky). Enid is required to take art class for the summer "for retard losers" she tells Teri Garr, her father's girlfriend.

Enid and her friend find the world out of school has little more to offer- The hypocrisy of graduation; when the class president speaks: "I liked her so much better when she was a crack head" Johannson sneers. Classic.

Enid also reflects that she will miss the geeky classmate who she will never see again- a familiar sense that "what is to come" may also be a disappointment. The underlying theme of Seymour's (Buscemi's) collection of 78's, and a lost world, is touching and effective. He works as a VP at what was formerly known as "Coon Chicken". Enid develops an interest in this, and brings the logo to her art class,where Douglas commends her for her awareness of the subject. Yes, there were places like that, Seymour says, now it is less out in the open. The possibility that we all live in a ghost world of our own is not just a remote possibility.

This film is excellent for its creative portrayal of disenfranchisement, discontent, and the humor that saves us from despair. Johansson offers comic relief when Enid visits her at the local coffee house where she works: ..."mostly I just want to kill everyone"... The starkness and impersonal environment of the strip malls, the Sidewinder where Brad Renfro makes slushies, the "fake 50's diner" where weird Al works- all these places are familiar americana. Hopefully John Malkovich will make a sequel. 10/10
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Dreary, boring and pointless
mcolburn11 December 2001
What a waste of time. Why are the meaningless blatherings of a spoilt middle class brat supposed to be funny? I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. There was very little to hold the attention. The central characters are a void with nothing interesting to say or do. Enid's so called rebelliousness against corporate capitalism is nothing more than a five year old's temper tantrum.
26 out of 47 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
If there ever was a perfectly made movie, this would be it.
Why do I like this movie so much? I guess there's something about Enid's character that I find unique, humorous, and fresh. But most importantly, what I found was a similarity between me and her in the way she handles every day life. Basically, I loved this movie because I felt a connection with Enid's personality. The script and acting helped, of course. But I think it goes back to Enid, and I really believe that people who do like this movie will probably say that the best thing about this movie is Enid, and how this character is so great. Obviously the humor in the movie isn't for everyone. They "don't get it", and it's quite understandable. Still, for those who do get it, you're in for a treat.

Why can't I meet a girl like Enid? :)
28 out of 52 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
ScissormanYU28 September 2007
Wow is the only thing I can say about this movie. There never was and will never be anything like it. It is the only movie that I watched more than 20 times, sometimes twice in a row. It is the best movie on the planet! I think that Thora Birch is the only one who could play Enid because nobody else would be that convincing. Every single time I watch this movie I discover something new and that is why I keep watching it. If there are original movies left in this world, then one of them should definitely be Ghost World. Now, I could keep talking about this for hours and still I would have to say more. The best way to find out what I'm talking about is to watch it.
9 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Entertaining but slow-paced towards the end.
CineCritic251724 October 2006
Ghostworld was for the most part a fine movie to watch and the performances were certainly more than up-to-standard even though the deliberate under-acting was sometimes a bit overdone…(does that make sense?).

Much better than the average blockbuster but not completely without flaw. Because partially due to the lack of story development after the first half, it seems to linger on longer than it should have. This left me feeling that this movie had already made its point earlier on.

Having said that, we still have a worthwhile movie. For me mainly because of the dark and timeless atmosphere which is played upon beautifully by Buscemi, Birch and Johansson. A nice satire about hatefulness towards people and the changes in life and the way we can either try to avoid it or reconcile with, knowing that the change will ultimately come just the same. Add to this beautiful cinematography, some good laughs and eye-pleasing costumes and you have Ghost World.

Save this one for a rainy evening with a nice bottle of wine or two. But if you don't get sucked in the story after 15 minutes or so, you may want to consider popping in another one 'cause it won't go anywhere else.

4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews