Mr. Movie

'Ghost Town' deserves to be deserted

When I first heard of Ghost Town I thought it might be a Western.

Damn. It’s not.

Ghost Town is a non-horror ghost movie dressed up as a comedy.

In a way, that’s a positive. Instead of seeing people hacked to death in formula fashion, they’re bored to death in the same style.

Following standards that ghost story writers think are so creative, comedy’s new golden boy and creative genius Ricky Gervais, who penned some of TV’s best episodes of The Office, slips in front of the camera to play curmudgeonly dentist Bertram Pincus.

He temporarily dies during a routine operation. When Pincus wakes up, ghosts trapped between heaven and earth and with unfinished business know he can see them.

Greg Kinnear is a philandering husband killed in a freak accident. His widow is marrying someone he doesn’t approve of and if Pincus will stop the wedding, he promises to go away and take the rest of the ghosts with him.

The plot’s limited fresh air comes via Gervais’ entertaining crankiness. He’s a nasty little man. Though it’s never stated, you can see he’s the kind of guy who’d become a dentist because when you have your fingers and hand in someone’s mouth they can’t talk to you.

Early on, Ghost Town gives Gervais a chance to show off in some decent comedy bits. But Kinnear is wasted and so is the always excellent Tea Leoni as the misguided wife.

With nowhere to go other than stock scenes where Pincus shouts into empty air while passerbys stare, the goofy ghosts are shoved aside and have to play second banana to a second-rate love story.

In ghost story comedies, once the problem is solved, the ghosts disappear -- a fate you wish for about 30 minutes into this film.

Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars

It opens Friday at the Carmike 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself