Jul 2008 31

Ricky Gervais teams with David Koepp to make a great debut as a film lead for American audiences in a film that is a bit familiar but fresh and funny enough to keep you entertained.

Frank (Greg Kinnear) is walking along the streets of New York having a cell phone conversation with his wife, followed by his real estate agent, and over the course of these conversations we discover he isn’t the most faithful of husbands’ right before he dies. We are then introduced to Bertram Pincus (Gervais), a dentist who isn’t a fan of people, keeps to himself, and has to prepare himself for a routine colonoscopy. After the procedure he begins to see and be able communicate with dead people and is harassed by them to help them solve their problems so they can move on. Upon returning to the hospital Bertram discovers that he died for nearly 7 minutes and that might explain is current situation. Frank begins following Bert, trying to get him to help him out with his widowed wife Gwen (Téa Leoni), who lives in Bert’s building, from marrying an alleged ‘bad guy’. The two begin scheming and trying to figure out how to win her over and the film and comedy ensues.
The film itself is a great, smart, and dry piece of comedy. It doesn’t really go for the gas, or site gimmicks, it is just great banter and humor coming out of the mouths of Greg Kinnear and Ricky Gervais. The film doesn’t feel entirely original and seems familiar to any other movie with ghosts that you have seen; luckily this one is funnier than most movies about ghosts you will probably see. It never tries to creep you out or scare you; the ghosts are peaceful and are simply trying to find their way home. The character arcs and plot turns are fairly predictable and unoriginal as well, but the actors are able to entertain with ease and make the story worth watching for what happens next; they do sneak a couple curve balls in on you though.
Gervais easily carries the film and is full of endless rants of hilarious dialogue throughout by him alone. He does a great job playing the “I hate everyone role” and is equally convincing in the tender and sweet moments when he opens up. The work is a bit below his performances on The Office and Extras, but that bar is so highly set, it’s still a pretty great level he is performing at. Kinnear gets out of the type he has been stuck playing the last few years, the nice guy schmuck that is just down on his luck, and gets to have fun playing a sort of selfish jackass that has no bounds of what he can say because he is dead. He also is intriguing as you try and figure out why he is trying to change his wife’s life, when he was cheating on her already in the first place. Téa Leoni also does a nice job in her role, selling her struggles to decide on the men in her life, while also bouncing off of Gervais well. Special mention must go out to Kristin Wig who plays Gervais’s doctor at the hospital as she is hilarious in every scene she is in, especially when she tries and deflect the obvious question from Gervais, as to what happened.
In the end, Ghost Town is a very good comedy that never really drags and remains consistently funny throughout. Gervais is a great lead and I can’t wait to see him in more stuff down the road. And while this film doesn’t really break any ground or do much new for the genre, it solidifies Gervais a true comic talent that can hold his own in American cinemas, and this film will grow with further viewings as you catch one of Gervais’s many improvised lines. Definitely check this out if you are a fan of Gervais or dry, smart, comedy.


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