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Movie Review

Ghost Town

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some strong language, sexual humor and drug references.

Reviewed by: Maggie Hays
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Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Genre:
Romance, Comedy, Fantasy
Length:
1 hr. 43 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
September 19, 2008 (1,400 theaters)
DVD: December 27, 2008
Copyright, DreamWorks / Paramount Pictures Copyright, DreamWorks / Paramount Pictures Copyright, DreamWorks / Paramount Pictures Copyright, DreamWorks / Paramount Pictures Copyright, DreamWorks / Paramount Pictures Copyright, DreamWorks / Paramount Pictures Copyright, DreamWorks / Paramount Pictures Copyright, DreamWorks / Paramount Pictures Copyright, DreamWorks / Paramount Pictures Copyright, DreamWorks / Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, DreamWorks / Paramount Pictures

Who is the being of light encountered in near-death experiences? Answer

Ghosts in the Bible

Death

Final judgment

Are you going to Heaven?
Are you going to Heaven? Are you SURE you know the answer this extremely important question? Or have you made some common wrong assumptions? Find out now!

Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer

How good is good enough? Answer

Will all mankind eventually be saved? Answer

Featuring: Greg Kinnear
Little Miss Sunshine,” “As Good as It Gets,” “You've Got Mail

Ricky Gervais
“The Office” TV, “Stardust,” “Night at the Museum

Jordan Carlos, Dequina Moore, Joe Badalucco, Brian Hutchison, Tyre Simpson, Julia K. Murney, Claire Lautier, Aasif Mandvi, Bridget Moloney, Raymond Lee, Joey Mazzarino, Brad Oscar, Kathleen Landis, Téa Leoni, Audrie Neenan, Kristen Wiig, Aaron Tveit, Deborah S. Craig, Betty Gilpin, Angelis Alexandris, Elaine Cusick, Kim Russell, Alan Ruck, Brian Tarantina, Darren Pettie, Jesse Means, Robert Kelly, Gabrielle Fink, Michael-Leon Wooley, Monte Bezell, Sebastian Lacause, Dana Ivey, Miles Grose, Jeff Hiller, Lou Sumrall, Raymond McAnally, Amy Van Nostrand, Ira Hawkins, Danai Gurira, Richard O'Rourke, Brian d'Arcy James, Billy Campbell, Phoenix, Jazz, Josh Clayton, Lisa Datz, James Ludwig, Melissa Thomas, Shawn Hill, Megan Byrne, José Ramón Rosario, Jose Soto, Candace Thaxton, Dylan Clark Marshall
Director: David Koepp
Writer: “War of the Worlds,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Spider-Man,” “Jurassic Park”
Director: “Secret Window,” “Stir of Echoes
Producer: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Joseph E. Iberti, Gavin Polone, Ezra Swerdlow
Distributor: DreamWorks / Paramount Pictures

“He sees dead people… and they annoy him.”

Ricky Gervais plays a New York City dentist who can see and speak with the dead. Approaching this review from a Christian worldview and knowledge of Scripture, I have to say this movie has a lot wrong with it. When you read what the Bible says about what happens to us after death, this movie is highly inaccurate. But at no time does this film claim to be produced from a Christian perspective or intended to Spiritually affect our lives. It is a romantic comedy. I laughed out loud many times in this movie, as did everyone around me. And I was moved by the final scenes. Here are some details you may want to know before choosing to see this movie:

The Bad

  • There are two “F” words.
  • Other crude language is used, like one would hear on a high school campus but the language is not constant.
  • The Lord’s Name is profaned several times.
  • Sexual references are made a few times, using descriptive terms for sexual activity and sexual organs.
  • The dentist is rude and unsympathetic towards his fellow man.
  • The references to death and what follows are not Scripturally accurate—think Patrick Swayze’s “Ghost”.
  • The wise, likeable, seemingly admirable character is a Hindu. (It never seems to be a Christian!)

The Good

  • There is an actual incident of prayer to God to save a person.
  • We see a nice change of heart in a couple of unlikable characters.
  • There are many clean laugh-out-loud lines and incidents in the film and, even Scripturally, we know that’s healthy for a person.
  • Several acts of kindness are performed simply for the fact that they’re the right thing to do.
  • We are spared any nude scenes, and they could and would have been added by some producers.

You have to keep in mind that this is not a Christian movie. It does not approach death and judgment from that worldview. If you expect Scriptural accuracy, you will be disappointed in this movie. This film is intended to “play to the worldly”. It offends to some point with some objectionable language. However, compared to other swill that Hollywood dumps on screens these days, this movie spares us the explicit sex and continual raw language.

Violence: None / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I generally agree with the review posted here. Since this is a standard Hollywood PG-13 film, one must expect foul language and a non-Christian worldview. If one is willing to tolerate that, one finds a fairly limited amount of the former, and the latter is at least not aggressively anti-Christian. Beyond that, the movie is very funny and quite touching. The British actor is particularly hilarious.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Jeremy Klein, age 53
Positive—This is actually quite an uplifting movie. At first it is annoyingly reminiscent of the movie Ghost, with the usual concepts of ghosts lingering to resolve unsolved issues and being able to walk through objects, etc. But the movie turns into a tale of realization of what constitutes a good life and is quite touching. It does not reflect the Christian worldview, but it does have some righteous substance to it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Halyna Barannik, age 62
Positive—Where it not for a sprinkling of profanities and the occasional fracture of the 3rd commandment, this movie would be a Christian's required viewing. It is an unabashed feel-good movie about examining our lives, as the Bible frequently exhorts us to do. The script is intelligent and funny; and the occasional profanity is merely Hollywood's misguided attempt to achieve reality; like thorns on a rose, they are regrettable, but do not detract from its beauty. There is even a brief prayer; and if Frank Capra is watching, I'm sure he would approve.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Brian Schacht, age 62
Positive—The phrase “a nice little film” sums it up well. The film is just some good entertainment. The reviewer seemed to be upset about the portrayal of life after death. However, one should remember that it was not intended to be an accurate portrayal of the afterlife. Rather, the ghost story was a way of getting the story's message across (That we should live life by helping others, and not be a total jerk to everyone else). Much like the way Mitch Albom did in THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN. Neither stories presented themselves as accurate portrayals of the afterlife, but instead were simply parables/fables that used their representation of the afterlife to tell the message.

Here, the film's message, as I said above in the parenthesis, is about doing the right thing in the time we have on this Earth because we don't know when it might end.

(WARNING, SOME SLIGHT SPOILERS)

At the beginning of the film, we meet Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear), who is the deceased man in the trailer, and he is not likeable. When we first meet him he is on his way to see a concert, talking on the phone to someone he knows and we learn that he is cheating on his wife. Then he is killed!
The above scene shows pretty clearly that he did not know he was going to die (right up to the moment he dies he is unaware of his impending doom).
Then we meet the protagonist, Bertram Pincus (The Mighty Ricky Gervais), who is a complete jerk, cutting off people trying to get into a cab, closing the elevator door on a woman carrying a lot of luggage, and other things. He is a misanthrope who hates being around people and listening to them.
Then he goes in for a colonoscopy and dies—for seven minutes (a little less).
This “death” causes him to be able to see ghosts—who annoy him, endlessly (and can appear ANYWHERE). He decides to help Greg Kinnear with his wife, Gwen (Téa Leoni), who is marrying a lawyer. He meets Gwen is lovestruck.

The film's message, which is delivered perfectly: subtle, yet clear, is that “the only life worth living is a life lived for others.” (a quote from Einstein featured in the film)
The suddenness unexpectedness of death is shown clearly to illustrate the importance of helping others (we don't have forever).
Another theme in the film is how little we know of the ones we bump into in life, that the annoying woman at the dentist office also has a life. This idea is first subtly introduced when he falls in love with Gwen, the women whom he had both jumped in front of to get into a cab and closed an elevator door on her. Then is shown clearly as a major idea in the film when he realizes that one of his patients had lost a loved one.

The film is NOT a family comedy. It is a good film that people 18/17+…
My major problem was with the f-word being used twice, but if one can ignore that slight and enjoy a fun, sweet, comedy about a man learning to help others, then you will have a good time.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—William Johnson, age 18
Neutral
Neutral—I liked this movie for the reason that it had me laughing out loud with tears in my eyes. The Lord’s name was used in vain and there were some innuendos that were not appropriate, but there were some light hearted and hilarious jokes that will have you laughing so hard. I enjoyed the simplicity in the relationship between the two main characters, they showed a genuine concern for each others happiness.
This movie is not based on biblical principals, but in today's movies I don't find many movies that are.
If you want to laugh, this is a good movie to see, although I do not think it is appropriate for children because of some of the innuendos.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Hayley Tharpe, age 27
Negative

none

Comments from young people
Positive—I went to this movie not expecting much, but was strangely surprised. I'll admit, it's not my type of movie. In fact, I would never have picked it to be one I'd like to see in the theaters. But someone I knew was going, so I decided to tag along for the fun of it. It was VERY funny in some places, and very heartwarming in others. (Sort of a nice blend, really.) The only thing I found offensive was the 2 f-words, and the conversation about a mummy's male parts. Granted it was meant to be funny and in a way it was, but the humor was overshadowed by the awkwardness at being with a guy while watching this. (So I'm not sure I'd recommend this as a great first date movie.)
All in all though, I thought it was good, and will probably rent it when it comes out on DVD, if only for the laughs.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Anna, age 17