Saturday, November 08, 2008

GHOST TOWN - surprisingly okay!

Ricky Gervais is a brilliant comedian but I had trouble imagining his brand of squirm-inducing humour working within the trite romantic-comedy genre. The good news is that David Koepp's new film, GHOST TOWN, somehow pulls it off. The strengh of GHOST TOWN is that it doesn't over-play it's hand. It knows that Ricky Gervais is the world's most unlikely rom-com hero, partly because of his looks and partly because his brand of humour is all about being obnoxious and off-putting. So they dial-down the romance. By the end of the film we know his character - an uptight dentist called Bertram Pincus - is on the edge of a relationship with Tea Leoni's archeologist. But all we've really seen is the establishment of trust and friendship.

The motor of the plot is that Pincus has died for seven minutes in the midst of a routine colonoscopy, and a result, can now see ghosts. These ghosts beg him to finish their unfinished business, but he's too selfish to help until Greg Kinnear's character asks Pincus to break up his former wife's new relationship. Once again, the film-makers don't push on the ghost stuff too hard. It's there and it's funny but they don't sacrifice the character development - the real meat of the story - to cheap gags.

So all in all, GHOST TOWN is a romantic-comedy that manages to be genuinely funny and involving despite the fact that it has, on paper, the corniest of stories. You should also watch for SNL's Kristen Wiig as Pincus' surgeon, in a scene-stealing cameo.

GHOST TOWN played Toronto 2008 and is currently on release in the US and UK. It opens on November 27th in Israel; on December 11th in Russia; on December 26th in Australia; on January 29th in Germany; on February 4th in France and on February 27th in Spain.

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