Films that dwell in the world of supernatural end up being in one of two genres: horror or comedy. Kind of opposite ends of the spectrum isn’t it? Even though Ghost Town is obviously a comedy, it took some general ideas from horror/suspense films of the past. You’re going to end up thinking about The Sixth Sense and there are even a lot of moments you’ll find yourself remembering moments from Michael J. Fox’s The Frighteners. One of the strangest things though is that my mind drifted quite often to the little known Denzel Washington and Bob Hoskins starrer from 1990, Heart Condition. Yeah I know, I’m weird.
Bertram Pincus is a dentist that is trying to prepare himself for something that every man fears…a dreaded colonoscopy. Little did he know that the embarrassment of the procedure would be the least of his worries when he actually dies on the operating table for seven minutes. But after he wakes up and gets over the initial shock of his ordeal, Bertram now has a unique gift in that he can see and talk to dead people. Once he gets over this second shock, he begins realizing that those he is able to see and speak to are those that have unfinished business from their mortal lives.
Bertram wants nothing more then to just have the voices go away and he gets presented with that by a particular ghost named Frank only if Bertram will do something for him. Frank wants him to break up his widow’s upcoming marriage. Bertram finds this deal as an easy choice and one that won’t be hard to accomplish. Well, it becomes a lot more difficult when Bertram begins falling for the woman whose life he’s supposed to ruin.
When you stop and think about it, Ghost Town actually has a lot more to it then just the comedy aspect of it all. Don’t get me wrong. It is funny and has a lot (A LOT) of jokes spread throughout the film, but it also is a bit of a drama and a love story. Consider it a two-part film with the beginning being full of humor as Bertram gets prepared for his procedure and dealing with getting used to all of the ghosts and his newfound gift. The second half watches as Bertram begins to learn more about himself and that his work isn’t the only thing that needs to control his life. He can learn to love and have someone else in his life that makes him happy on a daily basis. Not too bad when a film can pull off so many different genres in the course of an hour and a half.
Overall it’s not bad for something that took aspects of a couple different films dealing with spirits and tried to turn it all into a creation of their very own. Oddly enough, I just realized that the love story portion of the film actually reminds me of not only Heart Condition but also Ghost and InnerSpace. Maybe I have seen too many movies in my life and it really is hard to come up with original ideas that haven’t yet been done, but it all boils down to how you present it. Ghost Town adds some flare and a lot of comedy to the “I see dead people” concept and throws in a pinch of sadness, sincerity, and love that will have you smiling and frowning the whole way through. Call it a complicated mixture of emotions, but it is done well. Not perfectly, but adequately.
The film is shown in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and it looks good to me. You’re going to notice a slight grayish hue over the entire film, but that is intentionally done so as to present the ghosts in a bit of a dulled down aspect.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and the surrounding speakers aren’t the most necessary accessory for this film simply because it is virtually all dialogue driven. It all comes through loud and clear so no problems.
Audio Commentary – Director David Koepp sits down with actor Ricky Gervais for proves to be a very fun and light-hearted commentary track. Both of them share a lot of stories and avoid the dreaded “what you’re seeing in this scene” discussions that usually lead the way for a lot of boredom. They joke around a lot and just make the second viewing that much better.
Behind The Scenes – Cast and crew share their thoughts on making the film and all seemed to have a great time doing so. They just talk about different stories and other things that happened while filming which are pretty amusing. (21:07)
Ghostly Effects – While this is supposed to be about special effects; it’s way too short and doesn’t show enough of anything to really tell you much. (2:03)
Some People Can Do It – Here we have your run of the mill gag reel that includes accidents, flubbed lines, uncontrollable laughter, and all that stuff. This is pretty funny stuff though and not like a lot of DVD gag reels that are full of inside jokes where you have no idea what’s going on. (6:23)
So it’s not going to win any awards and won’t be something that everyone is talking about, but you can rest assured that you’ll end up watching Ghost Town every one of the fifty million times it comes on TBS or TNT. If Dinner And A Movie was still on the air then this would join the ranks of When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless In Seattle. It’s just that type of film because it’s sweet, funny, and cute but not something you’re going watch over and over again. I’ll give it credit, though, for making this comedy into something more then just a laugh fest and adding in some plot with feeling and love. As for the special features, you get just about as much as would be expected for a release of this caliber. A gag reel and short behind the scenes featurette that are not bad to watch and an audio commentary that is really fun to listen to so well worth checking out the film a second time through right away. Ghost Town will be on cable TV before you know it but maybe go with a rental to at least hear the commentary one time through.
Wish I saw dead people.
DreamWorks presents Ghost Town. Directed by: David Koepp. Starring: Greg Kinnear, Joe Badalucco, Tea Leoni, Alan Ruck, Brian Tarantina, Ricky Gervais. Written by: David Koepp & John Kamps. Running time: 102 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released on DVD: December 27, 2008. Available at Amazon.com