Published Sep 18, 2008For all of David Koepps disastrously contrived and insincere big budget screenwriting gigs, such as the most recent Indiana Jones entry (which, to be fair, likely had more to do with George Lucas than Mr. Koepp), as well as Jurassic Park: The Lost World, War of the Worlds and Mission: Impossible, Koepp has penned some smaller and seemingly more personal fare like The Trigger Effect and Stir of Echoes. Ghost Town, thankfully, falls into the latter category, although it still suffers from familiarity and predictability, but finds some heart in the thoughtfully treated deceased.
Quickly after his wife Gwen (Tea Leoni) finds out about the affair he is having, Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear) shuffles off this mortal coil (at least in corporeal form) in an unexpected and amusing manner. While milling around Manhattan as a ghost, Frank stumbles upon surly dentist Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais), who had a near death experience himself during a routine colonoscopy, which has enabled him to see dead people.
With Gwen about to marry again, Frank manipulatively enlists the help of Bertram to put a stop to it, which backfires when sparks fly between Gwen and Bertram.
While the comedy occasionally clicks, it also often feels forced, which is something that can be said for much of the film in general. Later sequences involving the pains and regrets of the dead are mildly moving but the entire romantic comedy angle feels entirely inorganic given that Bertram is kind of an asshole and there are no moments that make the audience believe Gwen would see past this.
Inevitably, Bertram learns the error of his ways with the aid of his ghostly pals, which theoretically should make the film more palatable. But given how sanitized and thematically homogenous its presented, the entire ordeal feels like a wasted opportunity.
All of this, however, may seem like a moot point since the overall feeling of the film is comfortable and uplifting, which is essentially what the core audience for a movie of this nature will be looking for. (Paramount)