Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ghost Town (2008)

I love comedies, but I don't always laugh out loud even though I enjoy them. Every once in a while, a comedy will touch my funny bone in that special way that elicits full "laugh out loud" fun. This movie not only touched me once, twice, but three times a lady. And I loved it.

Insert your own funny caption *here*

The movie starts out with Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear), a married man that just narrowly missed getting busted by his wife (Tea Leoni) for trying to buy a love nest apartment for his girlfriend. He dies soon after and the movie turns to Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais), a misanthropic dentist, who is soon going in for an embarrassing hospital procedure. After he leaves the hospital he suddenly realizes he is seeing ghosts, and that includes Frank. Some amount of time has passed since Frank's death and he (and a bunch of other ghosts) want Pincus' help in resolving some unfinished business.

If this sounds somewhat similar to "Ghost" - then you are kind of in the right ballpark. I am the first to admit the whole "ghost genre" is so terribly played out. However, where "Ghost" goes terribly sentimental and somewhat sappy, this movie takes a definite turn into a deep comedic realm with a touch of humanistic moral and is all the better for it.

Ricky Gervais is someone I personally find hilarious. I love the dry, British humor. There are scenes with him in this movie that almost had me in absolute tears. Here is an example:

When he checks into the hospital he has a discussion with a nurse about if his bowels have evacuated. After trying to dodge the question, him and the nurse have the following exchange:

Pincus: "I shat. Ok? Good. Again, and again. It was like a terrorist attack down there in the darkness and the chaos, and the running and the screaming, okay?"
Nurse: "Fine with me."
Pincus: "Good. Gross invasion of my privacy, this."
Nurse: "Wait until they get you in the back."

Another example of brilliant Gervais-ness. They give him a relaxant before the procedure and he has said some not nice things as they wheel him into the room.

Doctor: "Not a real people person are you, Dr. Pincus?"
Pincus: "Not really. Given a choice between a few people and loads of people, I choose my cat. She hunts dwarfs. She takes them up the tree. They're still alive. You can see their little legs going. Sounds like Norah Jones when she plays the piano."

He can almost do no wrong in my eyes.

I also want to touch on Kinnear's performance as I have thought for a long time that Greg Kinnear is a terribly underrated actor. He is kinda like an older Jason Bateman if you think about it. He has become known as a great straight man that can toss out some deadpan lines too and get a great laugh. Time and time again I have seen him in romantic comedy roles that he hits out of the park, but I don't think he gets much respect for it. In this movie - he plays a bit of an amoral lout. He cheated on his wife and is unapologetic for it through most of the film. He is charming and we easily forgive him because he is who he is. One of my favorite exchanges between him and Gervais come in a scene which shows how unapologetic Kinnear's character is:

Frank: "You are a sad little man."
Pincus: "And you're a lying, bigamist corpse."
Frank: "No, no, I'm not a bigamist. I'm an adulterer. It's a whole different thing."
Pincus: "Sorry, my mistake. You were a real catch."

If you haven't guessed, I highly recommend this one for a day when you could use a good laugh. It isn't all about laughs in this one though, as it is well grounded with the theme of examining your own life. Pincus is a jerk and he too, is unapologetic about not caring about anyone but himself and is quiet existence. But even he has to decide if that is all he wants out of life - a detached quiet. So not only do you have a great comedy, but it has a nice little message that they don't try to beat the audience about the head with. Check this one out when you have time, it is hilarious. There, I did the whole review and not once did I use the phrase "He sees dead people". Oh, wait, uhmm ... oops.


kda0121 said...

I've seen the previews of this and they looked hilarious. If the whole movie is half as funny, I can't wait.

AbbyNormal said...

Karl - if you hate this movie, I will eat my hat. :-)

kda0121 said...

Watched this and loved it. Ricky Gervais has great timing and love his Brit wit. Funny, romantic and poignant. That's a hat trick in movies.

AbbyNormal said...

Karl - I am relieved to hear I won't be eating my hat anytime soon. :-)

Natasha Reed said...

I love Gervais. So much. This movie had its brilliant parts, and I enjoyed it.

Have you seen his "Extras" series? Oh my, the funniest series ever. Why oh why weren't there more?

AbbyNormal said...

Natasha - I have never seen "Extras" but I have seen the Kate Winslet clip from the show, which was hilarious. Guess I should Netflix those sometime. i am sure I would love them.