Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ghost Town (2008) [PG-13] ****



Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear) is a successful Manhattan businessman with a lovely wife Gwen (Téa Leoni) and a girlfriend on the side. Unfortunately, after narrowly dodging a falling window air conditioner, Frank is run over by a city bus. Imagine his good fortune when he discovers that dentist Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais) can see and hear him. It turns out that Bertram recently underwent surgery, during which he was clinically dead for seven minutes, and, after recovering, he can see and hear ghosts.

As word spreads among the local ghosts, they begin pestering Bertram to help them conclude their unfinished business. However, Bertram is anti-social to the point of rudeness, and has no interest in being of service. But Frank persists, ostensibly because Gwen, who lives in Bertram's apartment building, is engaged to Richard (Bill Campbell) whom Frank characterizes as selfish and cold-hearted. After Bertram gets to know Gwen and Richard, however, he questions Frank's motives. And when it becomes clear that the ghosts depart after Bertram helps them finish their business, Bertram wonders why Frank is still there. It turns out that Gwen knew about his adultery, and hasn't forgiven him and he cannot move on until she does.

While there are plenty of films about communicating with ghosts, there's little that is unique or inspiring about this one. Co-written and directed by David Koepp, we get the standard talking with invisible people comedy and the tell me something only the deceased would know drama. And we aren't surprised when Bertram falls for Gwen, and Frank dislikes that idea as well. Besides the flat screenplay, and the pedestrian direction, both of which are surprising for someone with David Koepp's talent, the most obvious problem is the lack of romantic chemistry between Ricky Gervais and Téa Leoni, especially when compared with her sizzling chemistry with Nicolas Cage in The Family Man. Fans of Ricky Gervais will enjoy this film. 

Labels: comedy, fantasy, romance   

Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 72/100    
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=69, viewers=66)  
Blu-ray

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