Home Arts Talent abandons Ghost Town

Talent abandons Ghost Town

By Archives September 23, 2008

Ghost Town is another run-of-the-mill romantic comedy, yet it’s profoundly different from the rest of the trash consistently pumped out by Viacom (Paramount, Dream Works and MTV’s umbrella corporation).
Living-legend Ricky Gervais of
The Office UK fame brings some of his natural genius to the role of Bertram Pincus – one that would have been yawningly mundane in the hands of any other actor.
Gervais plays an anti-social dentist, who, after a near-death colonic-scrub, finds he can communicate with New York’s restless dead. Taken under the wing of a particularly pushy and dead salesman (Greg Kinnear), Gervais is recruited to set right the deceased’s unfinished business.
At the same time, the film strikes up an implausible romance between Gervais and co-star Téa Leoni, which, though obviously intended to propel his personal enlightenment, felt tacked-on.
Despite being an untrained, slightly out-of-shape, somewhat unattractive actor, Gervais is comfortable on screen. Graced with natural comedic timing and a more than ample shone of British wit, he’s phenomenal to watch. Even in scripted, overproduced fluff like Ghost Town, his instinct for improvised acting shows through and carries the film.
Co-stars Leoni and Kinnear are clearly the “straight men” to Gervais’ funny man, but both of the co-actors seem trapped in their roles. Kinnear is simply wooden, predictable and tired. In brief, he was rubbish. He was shit.
The movie’s funniest moments come when Gervais directly channels his
Office character David Brent. For people who have never seen the show, Brent is a shamelessly self-promoting middle-management type. Nevertheless, the references will most likely fall flat for Office virgins.
Gervais is at his best when you can relate to him and the characters around him. But this fantasy film tries too hard and the hollowness shows through.
The film is burdened by its predictable plot development – Gervais is recruited to break up a couple, finds himself falling for the leading lady, and then has the deception come between them. Not to mention the warmed-over cinematography – a walk through Central Park so formulaic it could have come out of any Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan flick.
All the same, Gervais’ performance, and his chemistry with his supporting cast manage to carry the film, despite its faults. Indeed, many of the film’s best scenes are those in which the lesser-known actors are able to play into Gervais’ awkward and cynical comedic style.
As the movie stumbles towards its finale, the script switches between over-the-top camp and complete boredom.
It’s expected that the protagonists in romantic comedies will learn a lesson and become better human beings, but do we really need both main characters to be assholes-who-become-better-people?
On the whole, Ghost Town is worth seeing – if only to look back on later, when Gervais has come into his own in Hollywood. The film gives audiences a few good laughs, and the majority of the cast makes the experience an enjoyable one; but don’t go to this movie expecting fireworks. And don’t go expecting The Office redux.