Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Ghost Town

directed by David Koepp

Ghost Town poster  
Dentist Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais) finds people irritating, and does his best to avoid social situations. However, following a routine operation he finds he can see dead people as well as living ones. He soon discovers that this is more than a mere hallucination, and that the ghosts of New York will follow him around everywhere.

Plagued by the dead, Pincus tries to escape. They may not be malevolent, but they're certainly persistent and they refuse to leave him alone. It's the old chestnut about the dead having unfinished business. One ghost in particular, Frank (Greg Kinnear), is intent on interfering with his widow's love life. Frank is afraid Gwen (Téa Leoni) will marry an unsuitable man. Frank wants Bertram to unseat the new man in her life, a lawyer called Richard (Billy Campbell). But is Richard really as bad as Frank paints him?

Ghost Town has elements of a romantic comedy, although with a lead as unlikely as Ricky Gervais it leans more towards comedy. It has the kind of dry, deadpan humour that Gervais is best known for, good for a few wry chuckles rather than a constant barrage of belly laughs.

Leoni arouses our sympathy as the bereaved Gwen who is just trying to get her life back together, whilst Kinnear is entertaining as her self-obsessed and adulterous former husband. The trouble is, the character of Bertram Pincus not only has a silly name, he's also so misanthropic that he's not very likeable. When he gets his own way he seems smug, yet when he's down on his luck it's hard to feel sorry for him, since he always brings it on himself. It's not always clear what we're meant to feel for this character, so in the end all he evokes is indifference.

With a trite message about the importance of helping other people, Ghost Town is hardly groundbreaking. It's funny and touching in places, but dull in others. This movie is only essential viewing for the most die-hard fans of Ricky Gervais.

Film Details

Year: 2008

Categories: Films


Classification: 12

If you like this, try:

Crossing the Meadow cover    

Crossing the Meadow by Kfir Luzzatto
Kfir Luzzatto takes an intimate look at the world of ghosts.

2 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson

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