Ghost Town is a smart and beguiling film in a genre that desperately needs films with those qualities--the romantic comedy. I know this is always a surprise to some friends of mine but I love romantic comedies. It's actually one of my favorite genres when they are done right. The problem is most Hollywood romantic comedies now are terrible. Ghost Town is a welcome and pleasant addition to the genre.
A brief description of the plot will send out red flags of warning to people who don't like romantic comedies. An anti-people dentist (Ricky Gervais) starts to interact with ghosts all over New York City. The ghosts want him to help with their unsolved issues with loved ones left behind so they can then move on to the after world. Gervais' character not only dislikes people he doesn't care for the intruding ghosts either. That is until he meets the wife of one of the bothersome ghosts (played by Greg Kinnear).
Sounds a bit precious I know. It's not. Gervais makes a wonderful curmudgeon and he's not your typical leading man in a film like this that it raises his and the film's like ability. Gervais has a supreme gift of comic timing and comedic acting (the English shows The Office and Extras were his creations) that he employs either subtlety or with overt physicality. The man is just flat out funny. The female lead is played by Tea Leoni and she is an actress I've always felt has been underused by Hollywood. Leoni would fit in wonderfully in my beloved era of 1930s screwball comedies so it's always a joy for me to see her in a comedy.
Gervais and Leoni don't have the current sort of "hot people" chemistry that Hollywood concocts for its audiences. They have the more old fashioned kind of mismatched chemistry that makes great old black and white romantic comedies so timeless. I'd much rather see talented odd pairings like this as they trade smart dialogue than watch plastic, no talent hacks stumble through terrible, cliche ridden scripts Hollywood pumps out with no effort these days. Don't believe me? Check out the releases around Valentine's Day and compare those films with this one. No comparison.
Ghost Town is a fun, brainy and refreshing film in a genre that really needs a hearty dose of refreshing.