Monday, December 29, 2008


GHOST TOWN (***) is a frothy little rom-com. It's nothing great, nothing you haven't really seen before, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't work. Anchored by a bitterly funny lead performance from Ricky Gervais (EXTRAS, THE OFFICE UK), the film moves along at a quick pace and is worth checking out if you're looking for some light entertainment. Written and directed by big-budget scripter David Koepp (JURASSIC PARK, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, SNAKE EYES, STIR OF ECHOES), GHOST TOWN recycles elements from GHOST and HEAVEN CAN WAIT and injects enough new blood into the narrative to form an amusing story with a nice, late-in-the-game twist. Gervais is Bertram, a sarcastic NYC dentist who pretty much detests the human race in general. After a stange occurence during a routine proctology exam, Bertram gains the ability to see and converse with ghosts. One of these ghosts is Frank (Greg Kinnear), who has just been hit by a bus, and can't figure out why he hasn't gone to heaven yet. It seems that anyone who has died with unfinished business on earth can't immediately be sent to the afterlife; they need to tidy up all their loose ends. Frank's loose end is his widowed wife Gwen (the always appealing Tea Leoni), who he was cheating on, and who is looking to get married to a new-age stooge played by the Rocketeer himself, Billy Campbell. Frank asks Bertram to help him get messages to Gwen, in order to clear his conscience. But wouldn't you know it, Bertram starts to fall in love with Gwen. The film works largely because of it's performances. Gervais, a master of dead-pan delivery who has impeccable comedic timing and delivery, is basically playing a version of his character on EXTRAS, which is perfectly fine. Kinnear adds yet another solid supporting performance to his resume, and Leoni, always the hottie, makes for a suitable object of affection. There are a handful of clever lines of dialogue, the film is stylish without ever being overly flashy, and it doesn't outstay its welcome. Koepp, who's first film, THE TRIGGER EFFECT, is one of my favorite underrated gems, seems to be quite fascinated by ghost stories, as STIR OF ECHOES and SECRET WINDOW also covered otherworldly ground. GHOST TOWN isn't amazing but it's fun enough to recommend.

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