Director: David Koepp
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear
Runtime: 102 minutes
To be quite honest, when I first went to see this when it was released in theaters, I didn't expect much at all. It looked like your typical formulaic comedy with a goofy premise that might or might not work. And whilst it is indeed formulaic in its narrative, the other aspects of the film are so well executed that it overshadows the overdone plot line. A sharp performance from one of my favorite comedians from my home country, Ricky Gervais, and the charming side performances of Tea Leoni and Greg Kinnear really bring this film above most of its negative aspects.
Watching the character of Gervais trying to come over his arrogant personality is amusing throughout the film, yet Gervais manages to give this character his own little tweak of charm, which really resonated with me. Being a bit of an arrogant asshole myself, I managed to relate thoroughly with his character. The film takes on the often debated topic of ghosts and turns it into an amusing tale that truly entertains the audience whilst also giving them something to think about. Though the film doesn't delve too deeply into the topic of whether ghosts exist or whether they have unfinished business, you still find yourself questioning your own beliefs on the matter.
Gervais' sharp humor and witty acting accompanied by the surprisingly charming Kinnear keep this film from sliding down the path of its formulaic plot. The charm of both characters relates to its target audience perfectly and the chemistry between the two is brilliant. You will struggle not to laugh at the quick dialog from Gervais and the simple minded yet witty delivery from Kinnear and even Leoni at certain points. The casting in this film overall is great, there was no one that really looked out of place in their roles at all.
For some reason, sadly, the writers decided that this film needed some cheesy/emotional scenes, and although they aren't awful at all, some of them feel a little bit unnecessary. Any viewer of this film will probably often find themselves a little bit surprised, as the film slants from verging on dark comedy to a sappy heart to heart scene. Whilst this isn't necessarily bad, it feels a little too rushed and out of place. The film needed emotional scenes for sure, but they managed to slide some of them into the wrong slots. This doesn't stop the film from being entertaining, however, and it doesn't stop the healthy flow of laughs and entertainment that any viewer was probably already experiencing.
As a conclusion, this is definitely worth a watch. Even if you don't find it to be a comedy masterpiece, it's still hugely enjoyable and it fills its purpose, unlike most of the formulaic, putrid, misfire comedies that get spewed into our theaters and terrorize our weak, human existence every other week. Despite its worn out plot, it will still feel fresh in its own little way, and Gervais will entertain as usual with his dark, yet charming sense of humour, accompanied with some great dialog and decent side characters.