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MOVIE REVIEW: Ghost Town (Dreamworks, PG-13) ****

September 28, 2008

I’m still here, everyone, I just haven’t been able to get out to the movies much lately.  Anyway, I’m glad people out there are still checking my blog out.

GHOST TOWN is the kind of intelligent human and heartfelt comedy that Hollywood knows how to make, but all too often passes over in favor of dreck like DUDE WHERE”S MY CAR?  Ricky Gervais is Dr. Bernard Pincus, a dentist that nightmares are made of.  He’s selfish, egotistical, boorish, tactless, and uninterested in his patients.  He won’t even attend a small gathering in honor of his partner becoming a father.

Dr. Pincus, however is not just a doctor, he’s also a patient.  As the movie begins, Dr. Pincus has to go through the awful preparations for a colonoscopy.  I can tell you, from having watched my parents prepare for these, that it’s not pretty.  It’s also the kind of funny situation that makes GHOST TOWN a pleasure to watch.  I think every adult over the age of 50 was laughing with recognition at how Dr. Pincus tried to down the prep meds, and wait for them to kick in.

Happily, the procedure is successful.  At least that’s what Dr. pincus believes, anyway.  He leaves the hospital, and talks to a nurse that he believes works there.  Only thing is, this nurse doesn’t work at that hospital or any other hospital, for that matter.  She’s a ghost.  And she’s not the only one walking the streets of NYC.  Soon, Pincus is being followed by construction workers, elderly couples, police officers killed in the line of duty, a nude man, and a gentleman in a tuxedo named Frank (Greg Kinnear), who wants Pincus to help him with his widow, Gwen (Tea Leone).

It seems that Frank doesn’t want his wife to get remarried to her boyfriend Richard (Billy Campbell).  Frank is convinced that Richard is up to no good.  Pincus, however doesn’t want ANYTHING to do with Frank, or any of the other ghosts that now follow, pester, and generally make Pincus look insane.  But Frank and the other ghosts aren’t about to give up.  Soon, Pincus finds himself wooing Gwen, and trying to drive a wedge between Gwen and Richard.  What Pincus soon discovers, however, is that he loves Gwen.  Frank, however, tries to discourage the relationship, because he sees the worst parts of himself in Pincus.  Things get even worse when Pincus tries to tell Gwen that everything he’s learned about her and Frank is coming directly from Frank.  Pincus soon learns that he needs to start being less self-absorbed, and more in tune with the needs of others.  It’s a hard lesson for anyone like Pincus to learn, but luckily for the audience, it’s a lesson taught with a lot of laughs and heart, and Gervais pulls off a very funny and believable performance, and it’s a great touch that Pincus has a sensitive gag reflex which becomes a funny running joke (notice I didn’t say running “gag”?).

I was reminded of HEART AND SOULS while watching this.  In my mind GHOST TOWN is the perfect companion piece.  It’s like HEART AND SOULS multiplied by two.  I just hope that Hollywood realizes that there is STILL an audience out there for this kind of intelligent  fun-filled comedy.  I, for one, hope the DVD will come with a blooper reel, because I swear there were scenes that had to be hard to get through without breaking up.

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