Ghost Town review by Cinema Guru Boy

How do you review an unambitious comedy? You can't really evaluate how well it accomplished its theme if it didn't really have any deep theme in the first place. And you can't really tell why it works as a comedy without listing punchlines, as that would also defeat the purpose of a review. So what's really left?

Ghost Town is not the typical movie you would think of when anticipating the new David Koepp movie. The man best known for Jurassic Park and Spider-Man is more known as the big-budget action movie writer than a director of a screwball comedy. Who knew he wanted to expand his resume? However, this isn't completely virgin territory for him. I suppose Ghost Town is the movie one would get if trying to make Stir of Echoes a romantic comedy. Not that someone would do that. Or should do that. But Koepp had some reason for wanting to, and this was his result: A story of a selfish prick named Bertram Pincus D.D.S. (Ricky Gervais), who gains the ability to see dead people, and is tricked into helping a dead selfish prick (Greg Kinnear) with his unfinished business involving his wife (Tea Leoni). And what do you know, Bertram falls for said widow, and hilarity ensues.

Gervais can breathe life into anything. It's kind of a specialty of his to take a one-dimensional character, especially an unlikeable one-dimensional character, and get the audience to care, and even empathize. Aside from his most famous character, David Brent of The Office, his highest-profile gig on this side of the puddle, the atrocious A Night at the Museum, showcased his talent of rising above his material. That's kind of the feeling you get with Ghost Town. But because he's the star this time, and not a glorified cameo, it actually elevates the quality of the film itself.

Koepp's writing is functional enough. It takes a very predictable story arc, not straying too far from the paint-by-numbers formula of a general screwball comedy, except for the basic premise of the supernatural twist put into effect. But nobody really looks for originality in rom-coms anyway, so that can be relatively forgiven. I am wondering, however, how much was improvised, as many of the jokes did seem to come from a relatively organic place, none of which felt forced. I'm just not sure whether to attribute this to the writing, or the cast. Aside from Gervais, Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live) was able to hold her own opposite Gervais in every scene they shared. And Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show) contributed much-needed grounding to Gervais's caricature. It almost seemed like a bunch of comedians just having fun with a bare script. But maybe it was the other way around. Either way, it turned out to be a positive aspect.

So what was the theme anyway? Selfish prick learns to help others... what would Aesop think? Be nice and good things will happen? Don't be a prick? I suppose what I'm saying is the theme seemed a little moral-of-the-story-esque. Whether that was intended or not, preachiness has no place in rom-coms. However, in the end, it had enough jokes and chuckles to overlook it's lack of depth and thematic elements that you just don't care too much about the film's lack of ambition. Of course, that also causes you not to have too much emotionally invested in the film, either. Which all adds up to something relatively middle-of-the-road.

But that's just, like, my opinion, man.

6 out of 10 Jackasses
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