A criminally ignored comedy from last year, Ghost Town tells a well-worn story about a dentist (Ricky Gervais) who, after briefly dying during a colonoscopy, gains the ability to see and talk to dead people. He meets up with the recently deceased Frank (Greg Kinnear), who asks for his help in keeping his wife/widow (Tea Leoni) from marrying a pompous lawyer.
This territory has definitely been tread before. “I see dead people” plots have popped up in classics from The Sixth Sense to Ghost (in fact, Ghost Town could be called the comedic younger brother of Ghost). However, never did I find it to be pandering, emotionally manipulative, or predictable. Gervais’s silly British charm is on full display here, and Kinnear and Leoni are immensely likable.
These are things that I expected, though. What I didn’t expect from this film is that it would make me a little misty eyed, or that I would find it hilarious (though not gut-bustingly so) and quotable (“Why did they put his penis in a big golden jar?” Gervais asks of an ancient Egyptian mummy, to which Leoni’s character replies, “You saw that thing. It wouldn’t fit in a little jar”). Director David Koepp also populates the film with brilliant footage of New York in the fall, giving it a warm, lived-in feeling. Definitely the kind of comedy that could easily worm itself into a special place in my heart, as cheesy as that sounds.