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Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais), is a man whose people skills leave much to be desired. When Pincus dies unexpectedly, but is miraculously revived after seven minutes, he wakes up to discover that he now has the annoying ability to see ghosts. Even worse, they all want something from him, particularly Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear) who pesters him into breaking up the impending marriage of his widow Gwen (Téa Leoni). That puts Pincus squarely in the middle of a love triangle.
If Screenwriters were treated by the world like movie-stars are, the Writer/Director of Ghost Town, David Keopp, would be the paparazzi's main target. Another is the long list of Spielberg's proteges, Keopp has written some of the biggest grossing films in movie history (Jurassic Park, Spiderman, Indiana Jones).
Occasionally they let him direct, and in Ghost Town, he seems to be way over his head. For starters, this is a comedy and Koepp hasn't exactly written a comedy before much less direct one (his last directed film, the Johnny Depp thriller Secret Window, was the exact opposite of a comedy). In this reviewers opinion, comedy is the hardest genre to direct and very underrated because you always have to keep the laughs moving along while also pacing the film for character and plot development.
When directing comedy you kind of have to be the coach and the quarterback at the same time because your comedy actors always want to add their own creativity to the mix as well. So you're dealing with the overall story, character development and a little zing and zang for your star actors. If you haven't done it before, it's definitely a large task and David Koepp is way over his head in Ghost Town.
This film really reminded me of the summer bomb 'Meet Dave'. Ghost Town and Eddie Murphy's latest stinker have nothing in common except they are both set in New York City. But these are two films that really don't get going until 80 minutes in (or the 3rd act finale). So you sit and wait for what seems like an eternity until magic happens on screen. Of course it's way too late because the audience is already turned off.
I really don't know what happened in Ghost Town as this is not a good film at all. It's setup is mediocre at best and the so called love story really doesn't get off the ground. Star Ricky Gervais (playing Bertram Pincus D.D.S., a terrific name) is a talented man, no question about it. His starring turn in the British version of The Office is perhaps the greatest comedy performance in the last 20 years. But in Ghost Town he seems lost. It's like we can read his mind on screen and he's asking himself: "Why did I choose this project again?"
This is another concept film. Man dies for a few minutes and wakes up and sees ghosts. Let the gags begin. But they really never play on this concept of him dealing with all these ghosts hanging out in New York as they went straight to the so-called love story.
Tea Leoni shines as Ghost Frank Herlihy's (Greg Kinnear) widow and neighbor of Bertram. There is a ray of sunshine whenever she appears on screen and you can't help but feel for her in every way. She is a master at playing the down and out but still optimistic characters in cinema and I've always wondered why she works so little.
I really wanted to figure out why Ghost Town didn't work and I think I got it. Bertram is not a big enough prick and asshole so his character arc and journey isn't as developed. And there's nothing funnier than watching a sad and lonely jerk running around town as an elitist. Hasn't Hollywood learned anything from The Sopranos or Mad Men? We the audience don't mind if our main character is a jerk. As long as they have any kind of journey, we stay with them.
They played it so safe in Ghost Town I am disgusted by it. To top things off, to counter Gervais' character, they made Greg Kinnear's character a middle-level asshole too. So here we are watching two moderate assholes pining after a girl. Film is all about extremes of emotion. Either make one or both of these guys extreme assholes or don't even attempt at it.
Ghost Town is a film filled with a talented group of people. If the movies had a fantasy league, I would of easily picked this film to be successful. But the movie stinks and it should be held up an a learning experience of what not to do in film.
1 star out of 4! center>