Woo-hoo! Yes, folks, I'm taking a little break from my cooperative life with my husband. He's going to a local Residence Inn by Marriott hotel and I'm staying home for two whole days. (It's a reward, believe me!) He's taking our seven-year-old grandson with him and they're going to the Portland Pirate Festival! What fun!
In the meantime, my husband and I saw a preview of the new movie "Ghost Town" a couple nights ago -- and we loved it! It opens wide on Friday, September 19, 2008. I've put the text of Portland film reviewer Kimberly Gadette's review because I respect her and enjoy her writing style. (I don't know what she will say, and that's the fun of it!) Seems we both agree on this one! I'm giving it a B+ on Ellen's Entertainment Report Card.
Here is Kimberly's review at http://www.livepdx.com/Portland-Movies/
Some films open with a bang. This one starts off with a colonoscopy. An end to the means — in more ways than one.
An idea expounded by Ghost Town's filmmakers is that when you sneeze, you've just passed through a ghost. Another idea: Import a middle-aged, first-class funny man from England to play loner dentist Dr. Pincus (Golden Globe winner Ricky Gervais of the original The Office and HBO's comedy series Extras). With Greg Kinnear channeling a persona similar to the natty Cary Grant in Topper, acting as an other-worldly Cyrano of sorts, he persuades the dentist to romance his widow, the lovely Egyptologist Gwen (Téa Leoni). Even harder than turning an awkward, hair-challenged pudgy man into a charmer is the fact that Pincus openly admits to hating people: "Not so much the crowds, as the individuals in the crowds."
1993's Heart and Souls had a similar premise, but rather than Robert Downey Jr.'s handsome yet cold businessman acting as the ghosts' go-to go-between, it's Ricky Gervais' goofy-looking yet even colder dentist who's forced to do the honors. But while Downey ultimately gave us heart, soul and charm, Gervais has us howling in the aisles.
If not for Dr. Pincus' botched colonoscopy, he wouldn't have died for seven minutes during the procedure. If not for that temporary death, he wouldn't have changed from dour man hating the intrusion of corporeal strangers to dour man hating the intrusion of all strangers, corporeal or not.
Post-op, he's chased all over town like a rock star, haunted by unhappy haunts begging him to do just one little thing for each of them. But Pincus won't be moved. Not until dead, smooth-talking Frank (Kinnear) comes along with a deal that the dentist can't refuse — if Pincus will intervene in the impending second marriage of Frank's widow Gwen, then Frank will get the other ghosties to permanently vanish.
Perhaps due to the fact that writer/director Koepp has worked primarily in drama, he allows each of the three leads to let their masks slip, giving us glimpses of their individual pain underneath the funny.
And speaking of funny, hats off to Gervais in his first leading role, a sly imp of a man who sidles up to his lines, a deft sidestep here, a quiet utterance there. He rises to the challenge of portraying a misanthrope who secretly longs for love. We see his struggle, cheering for him to unlock his imprisoned heart. Without a comic actor of Gervais' depth, Ghost Town would not have worked.
Kinnear turns in another smooth performance as the cad who finally connects with his soul long after it matters, and Leoni, a modern-day Carole Lombard, sparkles. When Pincus surprises her with his oddball brand of humor, she fills the screen with a merry, irresistible luminescence. What today's cinema needs is even more Leoni — she is a treasure, one of a select cluster of star actresses who handle screwball comedy as if she was to the manner born.
In support of the three leads, we're treated to delightful turns by the likes of Kristen Wiig as a barely competent doctor, The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi as Pincus' colleague who gently schools him in a different kind of dental care, Dana Ivey's pushy poltergeist of a mother, and Billy Campbell (Once and Again), having great fun with his humorless human rights activist.
Also having great fun is cinematographer Fred Murphy, taking a vibrant autumn in New York and exploding it with fantastical hues. The fall foliage is bathed in color so sharp it almost hurts, a reminder of the mercurial beauty of life that cries out to every last one of us, begging us to take it all in while we can. Before it's too late.
Given Gervais' poor gag reflexes, member-of-the-mummy jokes and a 200-pound Great Dane puppy, this isn't your usual rom-com. Like Dr. Pincus, it stands alone.
From ghost to ghost: With wonderfully comic actors, a delightful plot and effervescent direction, this film is a boo-tifully spirited comedy.
Official movie site is at: www.ghosttownmovie.com
Here's the plot outline without spoilers:
In the romantic comedy "Ghost Town," Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais), is a man whose people skills leave much to be desired. When Pincus dies unexpectedly, but is miraculously revived after seven minutes, he wakes up to discover that he now has the annoying ability to see ghosts. Even worse, they all want something from him, particularly Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear) who pesters him into breaking up the impending marriage of his widow Gwen (Téa Leoni). That puts Pincus squarely in the middle of a triangle with spirited result.
Here's a great photo of Kimberly. She's scrumptious, svelte -- and married, you fiend.