Ghost Town Reviews
Ghost Town is diverting enough, but it's also the kind of high-concept studio concoction Ricky Gervais might have ridiculed in his great backstage-showbiz sitcom Extras.
Ricky Gervais has carried off a proper, big Hollywood film; he may not be a natural, but he's done it without any hesitation or cultural cringe or apologetic foregrounding of his Britishness. He's cracked it.
Sure, it's a light comedy, but it effectively achieves what it sets out to do: amuse us and tug on our heartstrings. And best of all, it's written, directed and acted with intelligence and wit.
Someone once said about W.C. Fields that he had the rare ability to despise amusingly. I can imagine no greater compliment than to say that Ricky Gervais seems, at his best, like a young Fields.
As Ghost Town reminds us, there's nothing wrong with formula filmmaking - as long as it's done with smarts and style. Indeed, formulaic doesn't have to be shorthand for lazy, obvious and uninspired.
It's not just that Gervais isn't your typical leading guy. He's not, and bravo. It's more that Koepp and Gervais hold tight to Bertram's unpleasantness and human clumsiness after most other films would have winked at their intentions.
In this comedy by David Koepp, Gervais handles the big, crowd-pleasing gags with aplomb, though the only scenes that approach the edgy wit of his TV work are those he shares with fellow improvisers Aasif Mandvi and Kristen Wiig.
Ostensibly a comedy, but one in which the (normally) brilliantly funny Ricky Gervais is more dull than he is droll, Ghost Town takes a familiar formula and goes nowhere with it.