“My Kind of ‘Town’”
By Scott Mantz
[ All Access: MovieMantz - Movies ]
If you’re going to see any movie over the next few weeks, it’s got to be “Ghost Town.” I make that point right away because this charming, funny and touching romantic comedy – which co-stars Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear and Tea Leoni – is in danger of becoming a ghost itself after a quick death at the box office.
Maybe it’s because its distributor, Paramount Pictures, can’t figure out how to sell the darn thing. Or maybe it’s because the majority of American moviegoers might have a hard time buying a portly British funnyman like Gervais – the talented creator of TV’s critically acclaimed “Extras” and the original version of “The Office” – as a romantic leading man.
But the fact is, Gervais is perfectly-cast as a cynical, self-absorbed loner whose cold heart warms up to the idea of romancing the delightful Tea Leoni. Gervais plays Bertram Pincus, a dentist who dies unexpectedly during a routine colonoscopy, only to wake up seven minutes later with the annoying ability to see dead people.
One of them, a tuxedo-clad charmer named Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear), will stop at nothing to get Pincus to break up the impending re-marriage if his widow (Leoni). Pincus reluctantly gives in, and in the process, he exorcises his own past demons when he falls for her.
Gervais’ effortless ability to play a social misfit might not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with his work, which includes his supporting role in “Night at the Museum.” But his real talent lies in his ability to turn the corner and make moviegoers sympathize with his otherwise snobby character.
But the real revelation here is David Koepp. Though best known as the screenwriter of blockbusters like “Jurassic Park,” “Spider-Man” and the latest “Indiana Jones,” Koepp (who also directed “Stir of Echoes” and “Secret Window”) comes through with his most fully realized directorial effort yet, and his screenplay (co-written with John Kamps) is full of razor-sharp wit that doesn’t overshadow the warmth.
But let’s not completely oversell “Ghost Town.” It’s extremely predictable, and Gervais and Leoni fall for each other a little too easily. But I never imagined Gervais as a leading man before, and I sure do now – and that’s saying a lot. That’s why you need to see it and, more importantly, tell others to see it too.