Ghost Town on DVD

Thursday, 26 February 2009 09:05

“Ghost Town” is a gentle romantic comedy with a supernatural twist. Ricky Gervais stars as Dr Bertram Pincus, a rude and unsociable dentist who, after briefly dying during a minor medical operation, finds he can see dead people. The irony is that whilst the phantoms he encounters want his help to tidy up matters they left behind when they died, as a misanthrope, he would rather be a ghost to them and the living.

One of these spirits, Frank (Greg Kinnear), is particularly keen to obtain Pincus’ assistance in stopping the impending re-marriage of his palaeontologist widow, despite having been adulterous himself. Pincus lives in the same block of flats as widow Gwen (Tea Leoni), and the bizarre undead/dentist duo hatch a hairbrained plan. Pincus will try to inveigle his way into Gwen’s life, and lever Richard (4400’s Billy Campbell) out, but to do that the dentist will require many lessons from his ghostly new associate, in compassion, understanding and kindness if he is to succeed.

Ghost Town on DVDAs the scheme progresses, Pincus finds he is unexpectedly falling for Gwen, a situation that threatens everything...

The movie is light on many things: humour, romance and plot. However, it somehow succeeds despite this, and the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Ricky Gervais plays yet another average, fairly unpleasant character with all the same tics and lack of social graces we have seen from him in shows like “The Office” and “Extras”. Whether the audience will find him funny or not is largely down to whether they like him and his previous work.

The rest of the cast play it pretty straight and true, and thankfully there is some good chemistry between Pincus, Frank and Gwen. The romance is slight, but that helps make the film more credible given that Gwen is vivacious and beautiful, and Pincus is a short, round-faced sociopath when we first meet him!

His personal transition eventually has the viewer warming to him, and Gervais conveys his character’s slow progression very capably and believably.

The film also succeeds because it does not fall into the trap of taking its supernatural theme too far, but rather uses it as a novel means to an end. The special effects are few and far between, and amount to the usual: people walking through other people and walls. At no point do the ghosts become scary or the tone suggest darker things lurk around the corner.

As writer/director David Koepp says in the featurette, the primary goal was to focus on the relationships of the three protagonists, and that lends the movie a solid, unsophisticated heart. Lastly, at roughly 100 minutes, “Ghost Town” does not outstay its welcome, and rounds things off with an open but satisfying ending.

The DVD has some reasonable extras to help bolster the main content. There is a commentary from Koepp and Gervais, and they click very well, making the dialog funny and entertaining.

The “making of” featurette covers all the bases, and the basic “Ghostly Effects” entry shows how each special effects scene was composited, set to music rather than a vocal explanation.

Finally, there’s a gag reel where Gervais’ high-pitched but infectious laughter runs riot, and some trailers for other movies.

Ghost Town is released on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday, 2 March 2009, priced £19.99 and £24.99 respectively, or less from


Ghost Town (2008, David Koepp)

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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