8.5

Ghost Town

Movies Reviews Ricky Gervais
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Ghost Town

2 Days in ParisRelease Date: Sept. 19Director: David KoeppWriters: David Koepp and John KampsCinematographer: Fred MurphyStarring: Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, Tea Leoni, Kristen WiigStudio/Run Time: Paramount Pictures, 102 mins.
Unless it was from his abbreviated appearances in films like Night at the Museum and For Your Consideration, or HBO’s award winning series Extras, most Americans are unfamiliar with the face of Englishman Ricky Gervais, despite being very familiar with his work as co-creator of the hit series The Office, both the American and British versions. Ghost Town will likely change that. Writer/director David Koepp has provided Gervais with the perfect vehicle for his quirky, sardonic wit as he plays the tactless and socially inept dentist Bertram Pincus who only wants to be left alone.2 Days in ParisAfter being clinically dead for seven minutes during a routine medical procedure, Pincus can suddenly see dead people, and they all desperately pursue him in hopes that he can help them tie up their unfinished business with the living. The self-absorbed Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear) is one of the more persistent ghosts, and convinces Pincus that he will leave him alone if he talks to his wife (Tea Leoni). Naturally, Pincus falls for her.
Gervais is hilarious. Whether he’s inquiring as to why he should answer inane questions on a medical form or insulting someone while truly trying to impress, he turns an average exchange into a marvelous study of dry humor. As Pincus, he either says what we are usually thinking or what we wish we were witty and brave enough to say out loud. The exchanges with his surgeon (Saturday Night Live’s Kristen Wiig) are comic genius.
Ghost Town tries not to delve too far into dramatic comedy sappiness, and most of the time, it succeeds. Gervais’ cynical portrayal doesn’t instantly change at the height of enlightenment. Instead, he begrudgingly, and, more realistically, leaves his dark side behind while complaining about having to do the right thing. It’s a refreshing change in an enjoyable film.

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