Dental Hijinks

I really enjoyed the Ricky Gervais (The Office) anchored romantic comedy Ghost Town, about a dentist who gains the ability to hear and see ghosts after a near-death experience. Gervais is in full British Bastard mode as the easily-annoyed Dentist hounded by ghosts who want his help with their unfinished business. One of those ghosts is a blackberry-addicted, adulterous fast-talker played by Greg Kennier (Flash of Genius, Little Miss Sunshine), who convinces Gervais to help him wreck the impending marriage of his widow, played by underrated actress Tea Leoni (Spanglish, Bad Boys, Deep Impact).
of course, the pudgy curmudgeon eventually falls for Leoni himself, and the romantic part of this comedy kicks in. I really enjoyed the writing, casting and execution of Ghost Town. Gervais plays the anti-social smartass dentist for all the comedic value it's worth... and when he tries to charm Leoni's character, his lack of people skills is hilariously cringe-worthy! it was fun to watch the film's plot break the hardass dentist down to his basic components. He faces his weaknesses and does the right thing because it's eventually all he has left.
romantic comedies are known to telegraph their punches, but this movie makes its biggest mistakes trying to be unpredictable. for once, i wish they had stuck to the formula for the movie's last 15 minutes, where i found the its only flaw coming from trying too hard. that said, i would definitely recommend Ghost Town to anybody as a date movie because it does a great job of having lots of comicbook-style good ideas, a great cast, and genuine human emotion. Because the comedy in the movie is smart and strong, the mushy stuff doesn't try to bowl you over to be effective. when the plot seems to overwork toward the end, just ignore it, and you'll enjoy the movie!


Arkonbey said...

My wife and I actually dug this movie. Some folks have ranked it as crap, but, as you say, it's not that bad. It had some laugh-out-loud bits and Gervais' character's transformation felt pretty realistic (as far as romantic comedy transformations go).

I also really enjoyed the premise that ghost are only here because the living hold onto their memories (though, do ghost finally go to their final rest after the last person who remembers them dies?).

My only real gripe was the end. Only around 10% of people who have CPR performed on them survive and the percentage probably slips a bit when they've suffered massive internal injuries from being struck by a city bus;)

samax said...

LOL! right.
that was what i was referring to in the review. i think they thought they were being clever and unpredictable, but they were really just blowing my high. i like to just pretend that bus strike didn't happen.

taken without that burp at the end, i think you have a pretty strong story that manages to make everybody happy.

the bits that explains why people sneeze was classic, and i thought they took the time to change his character from a sad bastard into a real guy. this goes in the category of Punchdrunk Love and Stranger Than Fiction as a story about a likable, yet truly pathetic human being trying to have the defining moment of his life.

because his transformation is relatively believable, i can see this movie being useful and entertaining to a lot of people that don't generally go for romantic comedies (like me).

but yeah, that ending gets the gong!

J.R. LeMar said...

I've recently "discovered" this guy, mainly from watching various videos of him on youtube. I was just thinking about how I need to track down this movie and check it out.

samax said...

yeah, he's big in england, but this is the first starring vehicle i've seen him in. he's pretty funny!

J.R. LeMar said...

Looked it up online, and watched it last night. It was very enjoyable. He's funny because he's very understated. When he's reacting to something, no matter how absurd, he doesn't freak out or anything, or make exaggerated gestures. Like in the video I posted on my Facebook page, where he's meeting with Patrick Stewart, who tells him about the movie he's writing where he can make any woman's clothes come off with his brain. Ricky's character is clearly thinks the whole thing is nuts, but he's still trying to keep a straight face the whole time he's listening. That makes it funnier than if he were obviously rolling his eyes @ him.

samax said...

i agree 100%

i love in the movie when he is calling Tea Leoni's character an idiot (he does that a lot... not a good look when trying to spit), he doesn't even NOTICE she's not liking it!

Check this out!

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