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A sweet comedy that isn't sappy.

Blu-ray Review: Ghost Town (2008)

In his first lead film role Ricky Gervais plays misanthropic Bertram Pincus, a British dentist in New York. He is shown stealing cabs, refusing to hold elevators, and sneaking out of a workplace celebration. After a routine colonoscopy where he dies on the operating table for a few minutes, he gains the ability to see ghosts. They are all trapped on Earth and want Pincus to help them, so they can move on. He finally makes a deal to help Frank (Greg Kinnear), who will get the other ghosts to leave him alone. Frank wants Pincus to keep his widow Gwen (Tea Leoni) from marrying her new boyfriend Richard (Billy Campbell), a human-rights lawyer because he is really a bad guy.

Pincus tries to ingratiate himself with Gwen, which is tough since he has been rude to her throughout the beginning of the film, such as the aforementioned cab-stealing. Also, since he has kept himself secluded from people for so long, he has a bit of trouble interacting. Pincus plans to woo her with the help of Frank, who has little hope for the plan, but it’s all they have to get Richard out of the picture. Pincus finally gets an in when he is able to help Gwen with her work. However, since Frank doesn’t want anyone with Gwen, does Pincus stand a chance to be with her?

While Ghost Town covers very familiar ground, there are plenty of laughs and nice touches along the way that keep the viewer engaged and satisfied. Gervais slays me. I find his comedic timing and delivery brilliant in everything I have seen him in, even interviews, and it’s no different here. No one makes awkwardness so funny. The addition to the ghost mythology that the dead remain on Earth not because they have something to do, but because people won’t let them go along with the idea that people sneeze when they walk through a ghost are intriguing ideas.

The Blu-ray presentation is more than adequate for Ghost Town because it isn’t called upon to do much for either aspect. The video looks good with a color palette that is very natural with few dynamic standouts and is well recreated in 1080p. It’s hard to go wrong shooting New York in the fall. The color of the leaves is especially great. The special effects, which are less than expected for a film filled with ghosts, are very believable and seamless. They are undiminished with the high definition presentation. The 5.1 Dolby True HD doesn’t have much to do in terms of the surround other than present the music and limited ambiance, but the dialogue is crisp and clear from the front.

Director/co-writer David Koepp and Gervais do the commentary track together. They spend some time together talking about the making of the film, but fans of Gervais will want to hear the many times they get silly together. Because all the dead people seen in the film are adults, Gervais has an interesting idea for a sequel: Ghost Town 2: Dead Baby. No one is spared from his humor as even the commentary listeners get mocked if they listen long enough.

Other extras include “Making Ghost Town” where Koepp, the actors, and crewmembers talk about the film; “Some People Can Do It” is a gag reel that shows plenty of laughs on the set; and “Ghostly Effects,” an odd extra because while it shows the process of how the effects were created there is no explanation to fill viewers in.

About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Founder and Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at

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