Gervais shines in mediocre Ghost Town

Bertram Pincus is a fine dentist but quite a horrible person. He is a jerk. Though not one to care for opinions about him, he actually revels in the thorny pole he shoves betwixt his personal relationships.

Ghost Town is the mad story of this sad little doctor and the unfortunate events leading to both the living and the dead and their intruding upon his solitude.

Ghost Town ironically opens with a soon-to-be ghost Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear) moving down the streets of Manhattan.

Of course, Frank promptly dies, introducing the process by which ghosts have been populating New York.

Knowing none of this, Dr. Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais) has scheduled a minor surgery asking for an anesthetic. The anesthetic causes some minor complications resulting in Pincus to die for several minutes.

After being clinically dead, Pincus now has abilities as a medium on par with Oda Mae Brown. Every ghost in Manhattan keys in on this and moves to monopolize his time for help at reaching the afterlife.

Pincus, who hates to deal with anyone, is now in his own personal hell until Frank appears and edges out the competition.

Frank, being dead for 14 months now, needs Pincus’s help to resolve the issues with his widow—he needs a guy to edge out her new fiancé.

After seeing Gwen (Tea Leoni), Frank’s widow, Pincus feels he just the man for the job. But how solid can a relationship become when it is based on the presence of an intangible dead husband?

For a romantic-comedy, Ghost Town is filled with many funny moments playing between the extended couple of Pincus, Gwen and Frank, but some of the comedy just does not commit to a large enough role.

Most of the laughable moments rise from Gervais’s ability to interject sarcasm into a situation with a lightning-speed quip.

Every other attempt at humor just plays on awkward and corny moments.

Missing laughter completely, that situation only sends waves of embarrassment that wash over the audience. The slow motion of the plot adds a negative effect to the hilarity of the situation.

Other than being a tad too slow, the plot does not make up for it in cohesion. The large numbers of ghosts that visit Pincus after his operation seem to disappear for the most part while Frank corrals him into wooing his widow.

They hardly ever bother Pincus except to be a thin excuse to provide hilarity in an otherwise normal situation.

It is easy to understand why the ghosts must fade while the romantic-comedy aspect of the film is in gear, but upon their return the entire film makes an obvious divergence to pander to their needs.

The film could have worked better in their particular situations so that the plot did not feel so divided.

David Koepp and John Kamps bring an interesting story to the film, but I do not think their screenplay or its written foundation lend well to this genre.

That being said, Koepp polishes the screen with wonderful directing, saving the movie from absolute mediocrity. He has talent as seen in the last film he directed, Secret Window.

Manhattan is presented very brightly in the movie contrasting the dour personality of Pincus exhibits.

The acting in the film is excellent. Each cast member fits their characters and accomplishes their roles admirably.

Leoni gives a magnificent performance as the love interest which is most desirable for a competent romantic-comedy.

The interaction of the actors onscreen brings much needed synergy and conglomerates the movie to something palatable.

Ultimately, the film has few flaws. The comedy could have been less tarnished and the hackneyed plot leads to the eventual cliché romantic-comedy ending.

However, the film makes quite a production of such a droll tale of ghosts and their possible presence.

I would recommend this film because it’s a new interesting wrapper on the same old romantic-comedy delicacy.

Those who are looking for something new will find it, and those looking for a hilarious tryst will also leave satisfied.