When I heard that Greg Kinnear dies in the newly released film Ghost Town, I thought for sure that this would be a must see. Unfortunately, there was life after death for everyone’s favorite not-so-A-list actor. I will say that this was not Kinnear’s worst film…but the praise stops there.
Ghost Town is a typical romantic comedy with a twist: Really annoying dead people. Let me attempt to summarize the plot of this movie by outlining all of the clichés it contains:
Bonafide jerk and unfaithful husband, Frank Hirlhey (Kinnear) narrowly avoids a falling air conditioner by jumping into the street, at which time he is promptly smashed by a passing bus. Meanwhile, grouchy and antisocial dentist, Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais) dies briefly during a routine colonoscopy, after which he discovers he can see ghosts. All of the ghosts on his block, including Frank, try to enlist Bertram to help them resolve issues from their past lives. Bertram refuses at first because…well, he’s just not a very nice person. Frank offers to get rid of the ghosts if Bertram will intervene in the marriage plans of Frank’s widow, Gwen (Tea Leoni) and “bad guy” Richard (Billy Campbell). Bertram reluctantly agrees to meet with Gwen, but then finds himself falling in love with her. The plot stumbles along as expected, but the main idea is that Bertram learns the importance of being a good person and helping people. All of the ghosts (including Frank) finally get to go to heaven in a flash of light after their past-life issues are resolved. The end.
OK. Now you don’t have to see this horrible movie, right? Oh, but you will…I know you will! For some reason that I will never fathom, the majority of movie goers in America love this kind of film. As I am writing this review, Rotten Tomatoes shows 86% positive reviews.
Anyway, I won’t bore you with the details, but here is a run down of the good, bad and ugly about this film:
Good: Nicely shot. Ghost Town was a “good looking” movie. There were some really funny moments, helped along tremendously by Ricky Gervais spot-on acting and dry British delivery. And, even though I like to joke around, Greg Kinnear was pretty good in this film as well.
Bad: The rest of the actors’ performances were forgettable at best. Tea Leoni especially gave a (surprisingly) poor performance, with a lot of fake laughs and over-done moments, but maybe that was more the director’s fault than her own. Either way, it seemed her pacing was off throughout the film. Also, and perhaps even more damaging, was that this film held no surprises. The story-line was very cliché, and there were many moments (like Frank being hit by the bus at the beginning) that I saw coming a mile away.
Ugly: Despite all of the above, this will be the #1 movie in America over the weekend.
He said: Skip it. You’ve seen this movie many times before, just with a different title. Not unbearable if your date drags you to it, but your $15 is better-off spent elsewhere.
But what do I know?! Maybe you liked this film…if so, I’d like to hear from you. Email Shawn and/or The Eskimo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OK, I'm 0 for 2 in my Night at the Movies selections, so I think I'll just watch DVDs for a while.
One thing I will give Ghost Town - I'll think (and look) twice now if someone sneezes while walking down the street. And it made me immediately want to be back in Central Park. And there were some laugh-out-loud moments in the film (which, honestly, doesn't take much with me). But that's about all nice I have to say about it. (And I don't like the title now that I've seen the movie - and y'all know how I am about titles.)
If you took Chances Are or Ghost and combined it with a little bit of Scrooge and a dab of Sleepless in Seattle, you have Ghost Town. A misanthrope (Rick Gerbais) who needs to be shown the error of his ways through the transforming power of love (via Tea Leoni). Dead spirits with unfinished business that needs to be tidied up before dissolving softly into a white glow.
I never got how Bertram Pincus (or Pink-Ass, as Greg Kinnear's character likes to call him) goes from stealing Gwen's (Tea Leoni's) cabs and closing elevator doors in her face to falling madly in love with her during a pretty awful lecture on mummies. It didn't fit. Nothing happened to change him.
I liken the movie to the Scrooge tale because the ghosts that Frank can see (who have unfinished business of their own) also point out to the living their unfinished business. And that was an interesting concept - but the whole storyline is just built upon so many standard movie cliches that you just want to roll your eyes in parts (which, honestly, doesn't take much with me).
She Said: If you just want an excuse to sit in a dark theatre and hold hands while watching beautiful shots of Central Park and laughing occasionally, this is a great date movie. Otherwise, pick something else.
After reading each other's reviews, The Eskimo and Shawn always discuss the reviews (and the film, too, of course). Listen to the Ghost Town audio commentary here. (And find out which film The Eskimo picked to review next.)