Isn’t it great when you get a surprise? It gives you that warm happy feeling inside. Well, that’s exactly what happened to me when I watched Ghost Town. I saw it without expecting it to be hilarious and was thoroughly rewarded.
The story follows Dr. Pincus (Ricky Gervais), a dentist who is totally disengaged from society — the epitome of what it is to be a loner. Following a near death experience during a routine operation, he begins seeing dead people. As the dead realise that he can see them, they begin to hound him with requests of things that they need to have completed before they can move on to the next life. Cue the laughs, as Pincus tries desperately to avoid them and selfishly refuses to carry out even the smallest of favours.
The leader of the ghost pack is Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear) who wants Pincus to break up the upcoming engagement of his widow Gwen (Tea Leoni). As Pincus gets closer to Gwen, he finds himself falling for her. Ricky Gervais is at his bumbling best in this role. He plays the withdrawn, irritating loner flawlessly. The audience participates in his journey as he slowly learns how to interact with people; you feel both the good and awkward moments with him. Greg Kinnear provides ample support as the charming, suave ladies man who died in his tux. The chemistry between the leading men is nothing short of fantastic. Tea Leoni pitches in with a solid performance in her supporting role too.
The pacing of Ghost Town is to be commended. The laughs keep coming at a steady rate and there are some genuinely classic moments, particularly when Richard (Bill Campbell), the boyfriend of Gwen, is introduced. The dialogue is fantastic yet subtle. Pincus is full of witty comebacks throughout — in one such scene, a surgeon tells Pincus, “People die all the time” (regarding Pincus’ death and resuscitation), at which he responds “Yeah, but it’s usually just once…at the end.”
Towards the end the movie there are a few heart-rending moments thrown in for good measure. There is also a moral undertone, but it does not tarnish the movie, instead it adds to its overall charm. The movie does something rare and provides laughs for everyone. It was refreshing to see something that wasn’t regurgitated, predictable or clichéd. If you want to watch a very good comedy, look no further than Ghost Town. You won’t be disappointed — it is definitely a candidate for my Comedy of the Year award.