I haven't had a good NetPix in a few weeks because the discs showing up in the mail have been subpar lately. Until "Ghost Town". Wow--this movie was awesome! Now I have to put a slight disclaimer up front here in that my favorite genre of movie is screwball comedy, especially those from the classic era of the '30s and '40s. But to those who say screwball is stuck in time, there have been many fine updates in recent years from 1974's What's Up Doc, 1994's Flirting With Disaster and even 1999's Fight Club (which even David Fincher himself admitted is basically a very f'ed up romantic comedy). I guess I should also mention that my first feature, the gayish wedding caper "I Think I Do" fits in this genre. [PLUG!]
Anyway, "Ghost Town" is a wonderfully screwy comedy written and directed with grace and old school panache by David Koepp. Who knew the screenwriter of "Jurrasic Park", "War of The Worlds" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (gaaaahhh!) had such a sophsiticated sense of humor. Not to mention style. "Ghost Town" features "The Office"'s Ricky Gervais as a dentist who begins to see dead people to hilarious effect, namely Greg Kinnear who is trying in true screwball fashion to stop the pending marriage of his former wife to a Ralph Bellamy-esque do-gooder. Tea Leoni is not only the gorgeously sassy wife but also a mummy-ologist at the Met, a clever nod to Cary Grant's scientist in "Brining Up Baby" (which Koepp actually acknowledges in the extras).
There is some great ensemble work going on here, especially in the scenes with Gervais and Leone as Kinnear, unseen by his former wife, mugs and gestures and tries to offer advice as the hapless dentist works his not-so-seductive moves. There is also a lively ensemble of ghosts, including notables such as Alan Ruck (who will always be Ferris' "Cameron" to me), Dana Ivey and a friend of mine, Jeff Hiller, plays the naked guy!
I loved this movie not just once, but twice. I watched it again the day after because there is so much going on, so many brilliant little throw-aways in addition to the big laughs, that it demanded further study. I don't know how or why this movie didn't catch on last fall when it was originally released. Someone suggested to me that mainstream audiences do go for comedies about death. Maybe. Or perhaps this movie appeals to people older than 16 and a half, which is the average age of moviegoers these days. It is literate and smart and nothing explodes. And, as the summer movie season is upon up, that is a blessed relief.