Ghost Town


Directed by: David Koepp
Written by:David Koepp, John Kamps
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, Tea Leoni, Billy Campbell, Kristen Wiig, Dana Ivey
Released: February 12, 2009
Grade: B

Bertram Pincus (Gervais) is a cynical, miserable individual. To put it simply – he hates interacting with other people. There’s a scene early in the film where a woman is rushing to the elevator in his apartment building and she asks him to hold the doors open. What does Bertram do? He quickly presses the close door button and goes on his merry way.

When you think about it, Bertram has an ideal job. He’s a dentist. He gets to shove things down people’s throats and he enjoys the fact that they can’t talk back to him. The only problem is that he has to avoid the other dentists that he works with.

After going into the hospital for a routine colonoscopy (ouch), Bertram wakes up and finds that something is different. To use a famous line from The Sixth Sense, he "can see dead people". When he asks his doctor if anything when wrong during his procedure, she confesses that he did die for "just a little bit". As a result of his short trip to the after-life, he can now see a small group of people who are trapped between the two worlds.

As you can image, these ghosts are thrilled that Bertram can see them. They want to use him to help communicate with their loved ones. They can resolve past misdeeds with the hope that they will then move on to whatever awaits them.

Doctor Pincus wants nothing to do with them however. He loathes communicating with living people let alone dead people. Dressed in a tuxedo, a ghost named Frank (Kinnear) puts a proposition to Bertram. He’ll make sure all the other ghosts stay away but in return, he must do him a favour. Bertram has to find a way to break up Frank’s ex-wife, Gwen, (Leoni) and her new boyfriend (Campbell). What’s the reason you ask? Frank’s worried that he’s not the right guy for her.

Bertram’s cunning strategy is to offer himself as the alternative. He thinks he can use his charm to win over Gwen’s affections. It doesn’t go as planned of course and you’ll have a few chuckles when you hear some of Bertram’s creepy one-liners. This guy has no idea what he’s doing.

Ricky Gervais is the headline act in this comedy and as much as I love the guy for his work in shows such as The Office and Extras, this isn’t quite his thing. He’s limited by the material and there weren’t too many "laugh out loud" moments. I think Gervais is at his best with an open canvas. I love seeing his impromptu gags at award shows and other major events.

Ghost Town is sluggish to start. For example, the scene where Bertram is told my his doctor that he died during the operation drags on and on. Thankfully, the film finds its feet in the second half and there are some nice, sentimental moments. There was an unexpected twist at the end which I liked also.

It won’t set the world on fire by Ghost Town is worth the price of admission.