One of the things I like best about Ghost Town is that it doesn't ask anything of you. There's no brain power required, though it's not insultingly stupid or empty. It's not hysterically funny, but it's also not crude or painfully immature. For my money, it's certainly the most easygoing — easy to enjoy, easy to forget afterward — of all the movies out in theaters right now.
It's hard to categorize this movie, since it's not a romantic comedy, necessarily. There's not a lot of romance, and while there is comedy, it's often bittersweet, due to all the dead people. Ricky Gervais plays dentist Bertram Pincus, an ornery, solitary man who comes out of a medical procedure to discover that he died briefly during it. His momentary death gives him the ability to see people who have died but who are still hanging out on Earth because they have unfinished business. And now they implore Bertram to finish it for them. One such restless soul is Frank (Greg Kinnear) who needs Bertram to prevent Frank's widow, Gwen (Tea Leoni), from remarrying. The ghosts torment Bertram until he agrees to Frank's request, but as he goes about breaking up Gwen and her fiance, Bertram starts to fall for Gwen. To find out my take on it all, read more.
The cast is great, and and I especially appreciate the female characters (and the actresses behind them), who are wonderfully funny and human. Kristen Wiig is hilarious as usual, and Tea Leoni is down to earth as the romantic lead: smart, funny and emotionally confused — but not to the point of hysteria. Her character is written as a person, not some weird parody of a woman. And Leoni easily embodies this beautiful, reasonable character.
Greg Kinnear is also well-cast, and with every new role I see him in, I warm to him more. He's got an honest, affable way about him that can be so endearing. Also, he's well-suited to play a counterpart to Ricky Gervais; Kinnear's more obvious humor and openness balances nicely with Gervais's dry, wry wit. Gervais is surprisingly capable as the leading man in this big American comedy, though with this material he's significantly aided by Kinnear who brings an almost clownish relief.
For some reason, I went into this expecting to laugh more than I did and feel less than I did. It's more emotional and heartwarming than I thought it would be. For any of the movie's faults (some scenes that drag, the occasional blandness of the tone overall), everything is forgiven in the final scene — specifically the last two lines — which is so full of hard-earned poignancy, it (I'll admit it) brought on the waterworks just a little.
Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures