Ghost Town (I) (2008)
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The Problem: Once back on the street, he realizes he can see people that others cannot. He returns to the hospital and asks the doctor if anything unusual happened during the procedure. The doctor's reticence does not deter him from wrenching the truth from her that, technically speaking, he was dead for "almost 7 minutes". As a result, he can now see ghosts. And of course, they all want something from him.
The "something" that one particular ghost, Frank (Greg Kinnear), wants is for him to intervene in the romance of Frank's widow. At first reluctant to take on the task, he finally is blackmailed into to trying to break up her relationship and soon, he begins to enjoy the challenge.
The film rises above the hackneyed "invisible man" jokes and plays out as a fresh comedy romance. Not fresh on plot, admittedly, but on Gervais' style. True, it's the same character he always plays, but seeing it long-form and with the love interest,it's satisfying. The romance in the plot calls for a performance that offers more than a tortured look or a snarky comment - and Gervais delivers.
There are no weepy "But I love you" scenes. There are touching moments, however, that are more akin to "classic" Hollywood, rather than the big-budget, ruin-the-characters, 4th-installment, CGI festivals that are the hallmark of Tinseltown these days. Worth seeing. Our packed-house audience laughed out loud and applauded the ending.
In Ghost Town, Gervais plays Bertram Pincus, a socially awkward prick of a dentist who dies for seven minutes while going in for a routine colonoscopy. Through this miraculous experience he gains the annoying ability to see ghosts- all of whom want him to finish their business on Earth. In particular is Frank, the unfaithful husband of Gwen, a woman who lives in Bertram's building. Frank needs Bertram to separate Gwen from her new self-righteous do-gooder fiancé, and if Bertram can accomplish this Frank will make all the other ghosts go away.
Greg Kinnear and the wonderful Tea Leoni round out the lead characters as Frank and Gwen. All three (Gervais, Kinnear, and Leoni) get big laughs and are utterly charming. Indeed, it is no overstatement to call Ghost Town riotously funny- the laughs come big and often. Too often it turns out, because when Ghost Town tries to stray into the more dramatic or tender areas of the story it feels somewhat awkward and forced. The mistake was made of focusing too much on broad hilarity, so that when the movie really attempts to focus on story it seems strange that the humor is suddenly gone. The film never becomes anything more than just a silly little trifle.
Yet there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. What we get is a thoroughly entertaining tale with a fascinating lead character. Add in the performances of the three leads and you have a fully satisfying movie-going experience. I would probably give this film a 7.5 rating, but since that isn't allowed and I'm not feeling an 8, I'll go with- 7/10 stars!!!
Basically, the movie is about a dentist (Gervais) who temporarily dies during a routine medical procedure. This experience gives him the ability to see all the dead people who are milling about. One of them is resourceful enough to get Gervais' character to interfere with his former wife's engagement ... and the story progresses from there.
Gervais puts in a great performance as the socially repugnant dentist. Unpleasant as he is, he's fun to watch and you want to see what his every next move will be. Greg Kinnear (who plays the ghost pressuring Gervais) does a good job too; he's pretty believable in his role. The other characters are more or less one-dimensional and not quite as interesting. However, together with Gervais and Kinnear, everyone more or less of shines.
While the story is a bit predictable, the interesting characters, charming nature of the tale and all-around quality of movie-making make this film worth a watch.
When Bert gets a routine colonoscopy, he reacts adversely & dies for 7 minutes, but is revived. However, the result is he is able to see dead people. These aren't just any ordinary ghosts, but ghosts who continue to haunt their previous Manhatten neighborhoods, where they died, until something happens in the real world that will allow them to move on.
One such ghost is Frank (Greg Kinnear), a philandering Manhatten playboy type, who is pestering Bert to intervene on his behalf to get his widow, Gwen (Tea Leoni) to break up with her fiancé, because Frank "thinks he's just after her for her money".
Bert agrees, but then falls for Gwen himself, and gradually is transformed from a curmudgeon into a much better person (shades of Ebeneezer Scrooge!).
This may sound like a tired plot that's been overdone many times before, but somehow it works very nicely here.
I thought Ricky Gervais, Tea Leoni, & Greg Kinnear were all excellent. Gervais was particularly good as the lead. His understated British comedic talents were well suited to the role. The supporting cast was great also. Kristen Wiig (from SNL) turned in a hilarious role as the surgeon who botched the colonoscopy.
What I liked most about this was that it worked on a number of levels, as a very good comedy, a ghost story, a romance, and a story of redemption.
Go check it out at the theater. You'll be glad you did.
Gervais plays a Manhattan dentist with an over-sensitive gag reflex who hates people. When he accidentally dies for seven minutes during a routine medical procedure, he finds upon waking that he can see and converse with dead people, who want his help in finishing up unresolved business. One of these, a smarmy, cheating husband (played by Greg Kinnear) wants him to help prevent his widow (Tea Leoni) from marrying a guy he doesn't like. Guess what...Gervais falls in love with her himself.
There's a lot of standard obligatory plot in "Ghost Town" that's specific to the genre: we have to sit through the requisite scenes of Gervais thinking he's going crazy because he can see dead people; he and Leoni have a falling out when she thinks he's tricking her just to get close to her, etc. But the acting is so good, especially from Gervais and Leoni, who absolutely lights up the screen whenever she's on it, that it's easy to forget we've seen much of this before.
One of my favorite parts of the film was the brief but hilarious performance of Kristen Wiig, who plays Gervais's doctor. You may remember her as Kathryn Heigle's passive-aggressive colleague in "Knocked Up," and though she always does the same schtick, she makes me laugh every time.
It's Ricky Gervais' dry humour and wit that seem to elevate Ghost Town and make it stand out in the crowd of numerous other clichéd romantic comedies. That's not saying that this film isn't clichéd, it has them left right and centre. Although with Gervais taking a different approach to the material then what most other leading men would do in this situation, Ghost Town becomes a film that people will actually enjoy and not roll their eyes at.
We start the film off with the death of Greg Kinnear, and if you think that is a spoiler then you have no idea what this movie is about. After that we are treated to the 'people person' that is our lead character. We get this immediately with his treatment to his patients and other co-workers. Although, after his surgery, he opens his eyes and start seeing ghosts around the town. This is when the clichéd bits start kicking in. With every film in which a living character can see and speak with ghosts, you get the obligatory "Is he crazy?" as people around him see him speak to no one. We've seen this stuff over and over again and while it would obviously happen, it's not funny and that's the difference. Ghost Town tries to get a laugh every time it happens.
You know those films when people walk through a ghost and they get the chills, while this film has that, they put a little twist on it. The character sneezes. For whatever reason, it's never explained, but I guess when you're dealing with this subject matter you can start creating your own rules. Speaking of rules, Ghost Town follows the basic flow chart of every rom-com that has been out there before it. So don't really expect to see something new.
This is Gervais first leading film, after having successful television shows with "The Office" and "Extras" he is branching out to film. This is an interesting choice for his first outing, and while it does work, I would have liked to see him do something different. He sure has the comedic chops to tackle different forms of comedy. He has his own spin on things and it's all in the delivery. With comedic actors like Mike Meyers and Eddie Murphy failing to get laughs (Love guru, Meet Dave) it's nice to see the light shine on someone else. Someone that is currently not in the Apatow crew either.
As with the talking to no one bits, there is also the "tell me something that only I would know" routine. Although, I will give Koepp props, because this time it doesn't work out so well. I like Koepp as a director, Stir Of Echoes and the Trigger Effects are both well made films. This is his first time writing and directing a comedy. If you want to count Toy Soldiers as a comedy then go ahead, he did write that. He does a decent job of pacing the film with the laughs and adding the emotional punches when it's needed. As most rom-coms do, it takes a dramatic turn and the comedy goes away for about 15 minutes, Maybe you'll need a Kleenex, maybe not.
While Ghost Town does follow the basics for a romantic comedy, it does have the s slight advantage of having Ricky Gervais on it's side. If you've never seen his material, Ghost Town is an alright choice to start with, but I still recommend his television work over this. You'll get some laughs from here, Tea Leoni holds her own and Greg Kinnear has the hardest part in the entire film. So in the end, the film works and does what it's suppose to do.
Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais) is a sad, lonely man, and although he would argue otherwise, has nobody to blame but himself. A cynically jaded misanthrope who goes out of his way to avoid all human contact, Pincus doesn't necessarily describe himself as a people person and doesn't want others to think so either. After a routine colonoscopy goes wrong in the anaesthetic department, Bertram clinically dies for seven minutes and wakes up a changed man; or at least the same man in a changed world. Now blessed with the ability to see the dead and communicate with them, Pincus not only has to deal with the living, but the dead too. Sure enough, it's pure baloney, and it certainly starts off that way with little hints at going anywhere else. Thankfully however, it's not long until certain romantic elements creep in involving recently widowed (you can hopefully see how this occurs) Gwen which allows both Bertram and the movie as a whole to shed their silly outer layer to reveal some emotional depth. Of course, the walking dead thing continues on throughout the entire feature, but thankfully it isn't as tacked on as you might imagine. Plus, linking the ghost plot with a living, breathing core, the movie brings both elements to a close effectively that capitalises on the development that was given to each beforehand. Yes, it's possibly the weakest element of the feature, but that's not really saying much at all.
By the far the greatest thing about Ghost Town however lies in its comedy, which is fronted by lead man Ricky Gervais, who teams up alongside Greg Kinnear to create a movie with both class and wit, not to mention a little bit of welcome shtick. Gervais, who goes about his role here with about the same mentality as he has so far implemented in his TV roles, delivers a wonderful performance here that embodies his character's comedic cynicism with absolute precision. If you already know the comedian then you know that much of his charm and natural comic ability comes from his timing and delivery; he doesn't necessarily try to make you laugh, and it isn't in the things he says, but how he says them, and when he does so. Through this Gervais makes sure not only to deliver his jokes with enough frequency to keep amusement levels high, but he crafts a character out of such moments too; the jokes never cheapen his persona, but only strengthen it.
Backing star Kinnear plays Gervais' ghost buddy-of-sorts, and while he does a lot of background work, nevertheless creates a strong enough character himself, doing well not to take focus from the lead, and yet making sure to create something interesting to look at when the focus shifts from time to time. Téa Leoni provides as the film's love interest for Gervais, and while the two never quite click as a romantic match per se, the director knows when to cut and call it a day, establishing romance without ever ruining the moment. Leoni is always comfortable in her position and shares some humorous and touching interplay with her co-stars which further the scripts warm, humanist tones.
In the end I was pleasantly surprised by the time the credits rolled. Not just from the fact that I felt genuinely fulfilled by a straight forward comedy about ghosts, but that I was often moved by what was presented to me. Of course, Ghost Town, although largely a ghost movie by façade and pure premise, is actually far from such a movie. If anything, the real core here is always focused upon using the memories of those ghosts to create tangible, living breathing characters that feel emotionally resonating and of course, are side stitchingly funny. Sure enough it's over the top, silly and at times even a little tiresome, but in the end, such ideas are justified by the payoff and development of character that is established as a result. In this way Ghost Town achieves a sense of relevancy that most movies of the subgenre fail to reach, managing to speak to us through comedy and romance that comes together to create a feature that is simply good fun to watch. With an unforgettable performance by Gervais, and enough heat between characters to justify much of the film's otherwise ridiculous elements, Ghost Town is a surprise hit; charming, delightful and full of life.
- A review by Jamie Robert Ward (http://www.invocus.net)
Similar to Jack Nicholson's character from As Good As It Gets, however being a professional comedian gives Ricky an edge when delivering all those funny lines in the movie.
Funny, witty and touching in places and generally enjoyable. It's not going to be the best comedy of the year by a long shot but great if you're in the mood for something light-hearted and cheesy.
Worthy watching if not just for the scenes between Ricky and the dog.
It has a very talented cast. Tea Leone and Greg Kinnear are excellent as always, but Ricky Gervais is a delight. Having never seen him in anything else, I didn't know what to expect, but he carried the movie beautifully. He really made the character believable and not just a caricature or a one trick pony played for laughs. You could really see the sadness and the pain of the character. It was so wonderful to watch the character develop over the course of the film.
Also, it is one of those films which have become so rare these days. It is an intelligent film written for an adult audience which is still appropriate for a broad range of audience. In other words, I can take my mom to see it without being embarrassed.
I'm so happy I saw it, and I hope Ricky Gervais is in any more films to come.
And another thing, why isn't he locked up for repeatedly carrying on conversations with invisible people in public? There are a couple of very funny moments,such as the postoperative conversation between Gervais, the surgeon(Saturday Night Live's Kristen Wiig) and her lawyer.
So if you're in the mood for a few laughs, (only a couple of them belly laughs ) rent Ghost Town.
FINAL VERDICT: It was OK,but sort of boring since this is an old concept. I don't recommend it unless you just have several hours to waste and can catch this on cable.
I have to agree with one poster who said the first half was very funny, although there were times I wanted to slap Gervais' character with a 2 by 4. He was impertinently rude. A person I would loath to meet, regardless of 'where'. Yet, given the kind of movie this was, Gervais' style of wit fit perfectly.
And the routine between him and the admitting nurse at the hospital was hilarious. I mean, really - they do ask the most mundane and unrelated questions. Who cares what a person does for a living if they're going in for one of THOSE procedures, right. Oh, and the previous scene, with Gervais staring at the three bottles of - whatever it was? Hilarious! My mother had to endure two such events and I remember all too well how she would dash to the restroom after downing her trio of white stuff. I vowed never to have one done, not ever. Gervais did a great job with that part.
Still, the theme, unique in some areas, was a bit too redundant overall, at least for me. In defense of Ghost Town, however, I think it would be near impossible to come up with a script so unique that it can stand alone.
Suffice it to say, the movie was at time enjoyable, but it did seem to lose a bit of steam once Gervais' character became interested in Tea Leoni's.
*END SPOILER ALERT*
And I have to say that Tea turned out an excellent performance for the limited script they gave her. Greg Kennar, as well, did a great job as her jerky but very dead husband.
I did enjoy the turn-about of Gervais' character, too; that said a lot without being preachy.
Nevertheless, I can't say that my sides were hurting from too much laughing - and I was so hoping to do a lot of laughing. I think it could have been funnier and more spontaneous - and shorter. It was about twenty minutes too long. Had they kept it under 1.5 hours, I think they would have had a knockout winner.
In summary, Ricky's intro into the world of movies was enjoyable enough and I look forward to his next project. I recommend it only if you like romantic comedies with a side of sarcasm.
Bertram Pincus doesn't have the best social skills when it comes to life... he constantly pushes people away, he's a dentist who doesn't care for his patients or co-workers, and he just wants to be left alone. Well, for what is a routine surgery, he dies for a few minutes, but is brought back to life. Later on he discovers that he can see and hear ghosts, as soon as they hear this, they go on a rampage to get him to talk to their loved one's they left behind to cross over with making sure their family is taken care of. But one specific ghost, Frank, wants Bert to talk to his widow who's with a guy he doesn't approve of, but of course Bert socializes with her realizing that maybe needing people isn't so bad and that love can be found once again.
Ghost Town is worth the look, but I would recommend it more so for a matinée or a rental, it's a cute movie, just doesn't have a real comedic edge in my opinion. But it does have some good laughs in it and a nice story that will make you smile. But there is another problem I have, Bert gets hit by a bus... he is revived by Frank's wife's ex-fiancée, by C.P.R.? You get hit by a bus, you should be splattered into pieces, but instead all apparently it takes is C.P.R. and you'll be just fine. Sorry for the spoiler, but if anyone who saw this movie read this, I wonder if you agree as well? I know it's a movie, but geez, call this beyond unrealistic. Over all, it's a nice movie, but it didn't thrill me, it's good for a couple laughs, that's about it.
Why then, did I enjoy this movie so much? A large part of that answer comes from the man chosen for the lead - British comedian Ricky Gervais has had a great deal of success with the creation of "The Office" and his "Extras" television series. As Bertram Pincus (great name, by the way), the lonely dentist who loathes human contact (and human beings in general), Gervais' style of deadpan humour shines in almost every scene.
He is backed by a superb cast, including Greg Kinnear as the ghostly husband of widow Tea Leoni (an actress I've never particularly warmed to but who actually surprised me in this movie), whose performance never overshadows Gervais' but provides great support especially in the scenes where the two are alone together.
Whilst it may not feature many laugh-out-loud moments, "Ghost Town" has the ability to bring a genuine smile to your face and has something which many other comedies lack - a heart. Sure, it could easily be described as 'Scrooge In Manhattan' and it features many things you will have seen before (such as onlookers staring in horror at Gervais who appears to be talking to himself when he's conversing with the ghosts), but "Ghost Town" has many of its own unique charms.
Directed by David Koepp, the movie is a genuinely moving experience featuring a believable transformation in its main character who comes to realise that his self-imposed isolation and selfish ways are only hurting himself.
I found myself thinking about "Ghost Town" long after the credits had rolled, and have since recommended it to friends. It's a terrible shame that the movie didn't find an audience when it was released in cinemas, but I hope it will find one on DVD. It certainly deserves to and that's not a statement I often make about romantic comedies.
This films main problem is Ricky gervais, his acting is not brilliant, admittedly some of the jokes in the film are funny, some of the items discuss are relevant to modern living, but his main fault is the style of humour he uses, which is still 'the office' based, works well for half an hour, doesn't work for a film lasting nearly two hours.
This is a film I won't be renting or buying on DVD.
The story is obviously pretty daft, but it is the comedy - and Gervaise's delivery of it - that makes this film better than it might otherwise have been. While he's no leading man - as he grows older he is beginning to look more and more like a young(ish) Winston Churchill - this type of role is perfect for his talents and he doesn't waste the opportunity to show them off to good effect. There are a handful of genuinely funny moments, which is quite a rich haul for Hollywood comedies these days, and a refreshing resistance to the temptation to insert major gross-out gags. Despite a few cynical expletives and near the knuckle jokes, this one would probably appeal to fans of comedies from Hollywood's vintage era.
Ever notice that many comedies seem to have all the good funny stuff in the beginning and then it all peters out as the story continues? This is what we have here, but the story is okay, just don't look for too many laughs around the middle and near the end.
There was good funny dialogue and not-so-good unfunny dialogue. Seems there was more of the unfunny dialogue and that is what hurt this almost comedic affair. Gervais had most of the funny lines, but he needed to have more or someone did. Didn't happen.
Dr. Pincus is considered a jerk by most around him and is not-at-all a people person. Of course this opens up much for comedic hilarity as far as I was concerned, but this didn't last long or it wasn't intense enough. When the recently widowed Gwen enters the scene he is still a jerk, but is becoming less so and hence the comedy goes south. It comes back when Pincus banters with Gwen and yes, he makes her laugh. So you see where this is going?
All the cast performed well. I am not that familiar with Mr. Gervais, but I do see he has the timing down pat. He just needed more lines. Despite this, the movie does save itself.
Violence: Yes, getting hit by a bus counts. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Sexual content: Yes. Language: Only one F-bomb and it was spoken loudly. Can't miss it.
However not indulging on this idea the film was made for Gervais all I can say what a great little movie! The acting was solid, but what impressed me most was the was it went from being a comedy to a very moving rom-com that speaks in a non self preachy way how much better the world would be if people realised that everybody suffers the downs of life not just themselves.
A perfect example of this without spoiling too much is when Gervais helps one of the ghosts return a cherished stuffed toy to his son. On returning the stuffed toy Gervais then realises that the mother of the boy is the chatty woman he is always shutting up at the dentist. Which highlights Gervais's failure at the start of the film to realise other peoples pains but is now redeemed thanks to his interaction with the ghosts thus making him a fulfilled and much better person. It is almost the Christmas Carroll of the 21st century albeit a funnier and much light hearted one. But more importantly it was a pleasant surprise on what has been a bad year for comedy 'cough' love guru 'cough'. YNWA
The plot is certainly un-Gervais and concerns ghosts, something the atheist Ricky derides at every opportunity in his Podcasts. Missing a glaring opportunity to have Karl Pilkington appear as a blind ghost, casting is instead comprised of the most annoying actors in Hollywood today. Gervais's misanthrope works against the sappy script of redemption, as with a cast this irritating, the sardonic wit of the earlier Gervais is more likable compared to the sniveling wretch he has to become to get the girl.
Gervais was attempting to finally break into Hollywood, which he would have done anyway if he had just kept being himself. Earlier this year he ripped the hell out of Karl Pilkington's film idea (a ludicrous romantic drama which stared Rebecca De Mornay and Clive Warren (sic)) for having a nonsense plot and cast of nobodies and has-beens. After seeing Ghost Town, I know who the money should have gone to.
It's a fairly cheesy premise, lightly mocking "Ghost (1990)" you feel, although Gervais and Kinnear add some comedic backbone to the film. Leoni is surprisingly good in the fairly difficult role of 'widow in a rom-com' whilst having to be convincing in being attracted to Ricky Gervais! As the film starts off you begin to wonder if this is going to be the most cringe making two hours of your life. Ricky Gervais has never been in anything where he hasn't had complete artistic control over the material and in 'Ghost Town' he had next to none. It shows in the first 15 minutes where you just don't get into his character and wonder how the balance of his unique comedic talent is going to fit into a fairly typical Hollywood "funny guy meets normal girl" rom-com.
However.......... as the movie progresses and his character is put in situations where Gervais is allowed to ad-lib a little and get some of those "I can't believe he said that" quotes out in true Gervais style to movie really grows on you. He really grows into the character and the middle third of the film becomes a real hoot.
Then.......... the final third of the film comes and doubts start to creep in again, as we enter "tragedy and love" mode and I start to wonder if Gervais can pull it off. He does!, and I'm quite astounded. He's maturing as an actor and while I'm not quite sure if he'll get many leading roles, bit parts and even second billings as a cheeky side kick roles are bound to come flooding in for him.
In the end it all becomes quite charming. I really believe the addition of Gervais's 'straight side' to his game could be the most important thing to come out of this film for him professionally, although if you still want a good laugh it's still well worth a look. Unlike a lot of films that fade, this one starts off on the wrong footing, but just gets better and better 8/10