Published Sep 07, 2012Easily summarized, much like the genre of film Javier Ruiz Caldera's cartoonish comedy tries to emulate, Ghost Graduation is about a neurotic teacher with paranormal abilities helping a "breakfast club" group of ghosts graduate high school so they can move on to the afterlife.
The subtext is minimal, the jokes are exceedingly broad and the mannerisms and reactions of the characters on screen are absurdist at best. If this movie were made in the U.S. in the mid-'80s, it would feature Bobcat Goldthwaite or Rodney Dangerfield in the lead and have a soundtrack consisting of OMD and Echo & the Bunnymen tunes.
Of course, this is the point of this Spanish comedy; it's not an accident that the five ghosts haunting this moderately affluent high school died in 1986. After all, this was around the time when films like this stopped being made (for the most part).
As Modesto (Raúl Arévalo) discovers that the ghosts haunting his daily life aren't just schizophrenic delusions, he learns to help others with the aid of musical montages and a superficial romance with the binge-eating high school principal, Tina (Alexandra Jiménez). Every character is a broad archetype and every problem is resolved with a well-timed musical number, which is the sort of limited thinking that defined the decade being referenced.
And while the associated nostalgia plays well for what it is — reaching its heights when the ghosts scare naked girls in the shower to deliver the requisite '80s boob-shots — this throwaway reference piece mostly just acts as a reminder as to how much we've progressed cinematically.
For example, early on, the five ghosts carry their teacher outside and repeatedly smash his testicles into a tree. Even though he appears to be floating in mid-air to passers-by — something that should raise an eyebrow or two — they accuse the teacher of being a dendrophiliac.
Some of this cheesy humour does manage to hit the mark, such as a scene where the perpetually drunk ghost possesses the body of the school secretary and continually plays with his (her) breasts while making a phone call, but most of it just frustrates because of the required, excess suspension of disbelief.
On the upside, a fat man flashes his butthole and Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" is played three or four times, which should please an extremely niche homosexual demographic (presumably John Waters). (Fox)