There’s been a whole string of big comedy movies this year; from Forgetting Sarah Marshall to Pineapple Express to Tropic Thunder but it wasn’t until this month that I believe I’ve found my favorite. Ghost Town is an intelligent, clever and heartwarming piece from veteran writer/director David Koepp and only made better by the comedic timing and sincerity of the film’s star Ricky Gervais.
Set in Manhattan, Ricky plays Bertram Pincus a self centered and uptight dentist who basically despises everyone around him. Not long after a botched colonoscopy from some questionable Hospital employees, Pincus begins to see ghosts wandering the streets of Manhattan who after realizing someone can see them, begin to trackhim down with the hope that he can help them with their unfinished business. Eventually giving in Pincus decides to try and help a ghost by the name of Frank (Greg Kinnear) who wants to keep his widowed wife (Tea Leoni) from marrying some douchebag (Billy Campbell). As you could guess, romantic sparks begin to form between Gervais and Leoni and hilarity ensues.
What makes Ghost Town so funny isn’t just it’s clever script, but the flawless performance of it’s star Ricky Gervais. Showcasing his trademark approach of delivering long winded, drawn out, strings of awkward dilaogue make for plenty of embarrasing yet hilarious scenes. You can’t go without mentioning his abilities regarding physical comedy either. Why he got the audience chuckling simply with a facial gesture and definitely shines in some of the more slapstick sequences. I’d say he’s easily one of the best comedic performers working today and I would love to see his career as a leading man takeoff. Tea Leoni is also worth high mention as some of my favorite scenes were between her and Ricky. Greg Kinnear does his usual slick laid back personality while still reminding us of his dramatic chops and it’s fun to see some other character actors pop such as; Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show), Kristen Wiig (SNL) and Alan Ruck (Spin City, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).
So we’ve established that Ghost Town is funny, but something that may surprise viewers is the heart this film reveals in it’s second half. As in most comedies like this, I think were always ready for that point where everything starts to go down hill, but in this film I actually found it quite effective. You really care for the characters in this piece and as Gervais’ character begins to turn over a new leaf it’s really quite sincere and touching. A couple of times I even felt like I was watching a vintage romantic comedy. I think it’s the romantic comedy formula with a twist of the paranormal that made me appreciate it so much, kind of a similar feel to a film like Groundhog Day perhaps.
Tragically it would appear that Ghost Town pretty much bombed at the box office this week and I find that truly devistating. If you have remotely any interest in seeing this film than I highly recommend you give it a shot. I mean look at your options; a movie with Dane Cook and Pie Guy? Another film with a pissed off Samuel Jackson? John Cusack as a CGI hunchback? This film doesn’t deserve to be ingored, plus they gotta pay off the fine of using a genuine Beatles recording in the movie, this quaint litte comedy is good watching..
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