Ghost Town, 4/5

Rated PG-13. Click here to view the trailer.

Ricky Gervais is a funny man, and it’s his talent and squinty charm and elevate Ghost Town from a ho-hum romcom to a very enjoyable 102 minutes.

Gervais is a Scrooge McDuck-like dentist named Bertram Pincus (note to self: add “Bertram” to list of favorite boy’s names) who doesn’t necessarily enjoy inflicting pain on his patients, but certainly doesn’t mind that stuffing things into their mouths keeps them from yakking about their day. After a minor complication during a routine operation (he, uh, dies for seven minutes), he is stuck between life and death and can see/communicate with those who have passed on.

Greg Kinnear plays Frank, one of the dead with unfinished business. Frank has been cheating on his wife (Tea Leoni) and wants nothing more than to apologize and make up for his faults.

The conflict that arises when Frank tries to convince Pincus to help him and his widow is predictable but enjoyable enough. The same can be said for the inevitable romance between Pincus and the former Mrs. Frank and yes, character do learn lessons and blah blah blah. Yet, in all cases, the actors’ performances carry the story way beyond what it could have been.

Tea Leoni does a fine job in her role, and Kinnear plays his part with relish. Still, it’s Gervais that clearly rises to the top. His bulky, sarcastic, cynical “British-ness” (for lack of a better word) is infinitely entertaining. I dare you not to giggle when he grits his teeth and compares the effects of a laxative to a terrorist attack (no, this isn’t a gross out story). Kristen Wiig is a winner as Bertram’s fake-tanned surgeon.

Ghost Town looks like a run-of-the-mill, post-summer piece of studio fluff, but don’t let that keep you away. Sure, it owes a lot to Ghost, and it reminds one of Over Her Dead Body and Just Like Heaven, but stands upright on its own. It’s way more than the lousy poster suggests. Don’t skip it.


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