Ricky Gervais is brilliant in Ghost Town
, playing an unnervingly rude dentist, Bertram, who dies for a few minutes during surgery and acquires the unwanted ability to see ghosts. Chased throughout Manhattan by a gaggle of restless spirits begging him to take care of their unfinished business on Earth, Bertram turns them all away except Frank (Greg Kinnear). The latter, a rogue who cheated on his archaeologist widow, Gwen (Téa Leoni), wants Bertram to intervene in a romance between Gwen and a starchy activist (Bill Campbell). Misanthropic Bertram has to polish his relationship patter, but ends up sounding a lot like Gervais' infamous character in the original The Office
, unable to complete a sentence without making others uncomfortable. In time, of course, Bertram falls for the wonderful Gwen, setting up a bunch of overlapping conflicts. Cowritten and directed by David Koepp (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
), Ghost Town
walks a fine line between comic freshness and a story idea with elements that have become overly familiar in movies and on television. Kinnear and Leoni have never been better on screen, but Ghost Town
is well worth seeing because no one like Gervais has previously played the hapless hero in a high-concept film such as this one. With Gervais doing his familiar, hilariously discomfiting thing, it really doesn't matter what kind of movie Ghost Town
is. Happily, it's a pretty good film in every respect. --Tom Keogh
Screwball fantasy comedy with Ricky Gervais' dentist becoming a go-between for the dead after briefly dying in an operation. Misanthropic dentist Bertram Pincus (Gervais) can't believe his eyes when, after being revived from an operation where he died for seven minutes, he begins seeing ghosts everywhere he looks. Annoyed with this added inconvenience, Bertram finally agrees to help when the dearly departed start asking him to pass on messages to their nearest and dearest. But when Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear) badgers him into stopping the wedding of his recent widow Gwen (Tea Leoni), Bertram soon finds himself becoming romantically involved, adding another (spiritual) dimension.