Well, not so much. Bertie makes it a point to avoid coming within a couple dozen feet of anyone, and he loathes idle chatter so much that...remember that Twilight Zone episode where the guy agrees to a bet that he couldn't go a full calendar year without talking, and the prick on the other half of the equation tortures and torments him to try to get him to welch? Dr. Pincus could do that without breaking a sweat or some dramatic reveal about snipping the nerves to his vocal cords. Wait, so where was I going with this? Oh yeah: Dr. Pincus can't stomach being around other people, but after returning unaware from the dead, he finds himself swarmed by all sorts of random folks who seem astonished that he can see 'em. They're dead, see, and being ghosts and all, a doorman and a couple of deadbolts can't keep 'em out.
Oh, but one of the ghosties -- a two-timing wheeler-and-dealer named Frank (Greg Kinnear) -- offers to get the rest of the spooks off Bertram's back as long as he does him one tiny little favor. Drum roll...? His widow Gwen (Téa Leoni), an anthropologist who's about to present a pint-sized mummy she's been studying to the world at large, is a few months off from clanging some wedding bells together. Frank's mortified at the thought of this woman -- the love of his life who he...okay, yeah, cheated on -- marrying the wrong guy. All Doc Pincus has to do is break off the engagement, and he's packing enough of a crush on Gwen that he's planning on swooping in himself. 'Course, he'd have more of a leg up if Gwen already couldn't stand the sight of him, but he does have a dead husband in the side pocket to feed him lines...
In the making-of bit on this Blu-ray disc, co-writer/director David Koepp boils his approach to Ghost Town down to just four words and a comma: "broad premise, simple execution". Koepp doesn't bog his
Ghost Town is acted, written, and directed with an enormous amount of restraint, and especially with Ricky Gervais' name plastered across the marquee, it reminds me more than a little bit of the British version of The Office. It doesn't go big: no colossal, over-the-top comedic setpieces, mugging to the audience, or chucking fistfuls of money at the screen to distract with ornate sets or an eight-figure CGI tab. Because it's not weighed down by too many characters or dangling plot lines, that frees Ghost Town up to focus on...well, being really, really funny. Its sense of humor is dry, quippy, and brilliantly understated. Something as small as an indifferent shrug from Doc Pincus -- showing just how little he cares that the dentist next door squirted out a kid -- can leave me howling. Scoring more laughs out of an off-screen mummified penis-in-a-jar than ought to be humanly possible, a serious, somber confession seguing into hitting another doc up for drugs, riffing on the name of a hypothetical Chinese kid...the list spews on and on from there. At the same time, though, there's a sweetness and vulnerability when you flip Ghost Town over. It's a movie with a big, beating heart, and Koepp and his cast juggle that sort of emotion in with its outstanding sense of humor better than just about anything else I've seen this year.
This is a part
As much as I loved so many of the other comedies from the class of 2008, I think Ghost Town might get the nod as my favorite. This is a movie that really should've been a hit during its too-short, underpromoted theatrical run, but...hey, that's why store shelves have these shiny five-inch discs all over 'em. One of the movie's morals is that it's never too late for a second chance, so pretend I'm some fairly uneventful looking apparition standing unsettlingly close to you, pestering you to pick up Ghost Town on Blu-ray. You'll thank me later -- pinky swear. Highly Recommended.
Ghost Town doesn't sparkle with that sort of hyperpolished sheen that the home theater crowd usually gushes over, no, but this Blu-ray disc still looks pretty solid, packing all of the detail and clarity I strolled in expecting. The contrast is slightly exaggerated, and its texture is a bit more coarse than usual -- and I'm sure that's just the way the movie was originally shot -- but all of that aside, Ghost Town is pretty much average for a modestly budgeted comedy breezing straight out of theaters. Detailed, reasonably crisp, bolstered by punchy black levels, an unintrusive sheen of grain...yeah. Nothing that'll curl any toes so much but a solid effort just the same.
Ghost Town's AVC encode sports a beefy enough bitrate to spill across both layers on this BD-50 disc, and the movie itself is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.
I could keep rambling on about the dialogue being rendered cleanly and balanced perfectly in the mix, but I'd rather give its terrific soundtrack a nod instead. I mean, the movie opens with The Beatles' "I'm Looking Through You", and also featured prominently are Wilco, Brendan Benson, and -- why not? -- a rendition of "Sabre Dance" performed purely on a violin. If Christmas hadn't just come and gone, I'd be flinging Ghost Town's music supervisor a cheery little card in the mail. Anyway, its lossless soundtrack isn't some overcaffeinated mix that grabs you by the lapels and shakes you around violently or anything, but it's more than decent enough for what it is, and...yeah. That's good enough for me.
Also piled on here...? Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs in French and Spanish. Subtitle streams in English (traditional and SDH), French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
The Final Word
Ghost Town really shouldn't be slinking in under the radar like this, and I'd chalk it up there as one of the two or three best comedies from the class of '08. Director-slash-co-writer David Koepp nails it without leaning on gross-out sight gags or bug-eyed pratfalls either. Ghost Town grabs hold of a kind of familiar framework and does something really remarkable with it. Its approach is understated but devastatingly hilarious -- as if you'd expect anything less with Ricky Gervais scoring top billing -- and it does it with a heckuva lot of heart to boot. I'm a cold, jaded, semi-pretentious online movie reviewer, and I still found its more emotional moments incredibly sweet too. Ghost Town is a really wonderful movie that didn't get a chance to make the impact it should've at the box office, and it's a very rewarding discovery on Blu-ray. It's so terrific that I'll even forgive David Koepp for writing that unwatchable new Indiana Jones flick. Highly Recommended.