Ghost Town Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
Despite the depiction of devils with horns and pitchforks, have you ever wondered what “hell” would be for you? For those who believe in an afterlife, it may be “living” with the regrets of unfinished business and unresolved issues. For others, it may be having a Blackberry without any signal.
All these concerns plague a host of ghosts that Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais) is suddenly able to see after experiencing his own temporary demise during a medical procedure. Now privy to both sides of the life spectrum, the cantankerous, self-centered dentist is hounded by these trapped spirits eager to tie up the fragments of their lives and move on. Regrettably, Bertram is too consumed by the private purgatory he’s created for himself to even begin to think of another’s afflictions.
Equating personal interactions to a pestilence, Bertram shuns the kindnesses of others, does all he can to alienate his neighbors and dismisses basic human courtesies. Avoiding eye contact whenever possible, Bertram is openly irritated by one ghost’s especially passionate plea for help. Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear), it seems, narrowly sidestepped one meeting with death only to be smashed (in a quick but rather shocking on-screen impact) by a speeding bus. Now the disembodied adulterous husband is trying to stop the upcoming marriage of his widow, Gwen (Tea Leoni), to another man.
Hoping to free himself from the pesky phantoms, Bertram finally agrees to help Frank. But when he discovers Gwen is the downstairs neighbor he formerly spurned, his socially awkward attempts to befriend her begin to resemble that of a clumsy adolescent. Still, they do make for laugh-out-loud situations as the graceless doc does his best to turn on whatever smidgen of caustic charm he can muster. There are also poignant moments as Bertram’s perspective of others broadens and he begins to recognize the depth of hurt both the living and the dead can carry around.
Unfortunately, many of these insights are marred by short, but often glaring, instances of language, violence and sexual innuendo that include two uses of a strong, sexual expletive along with a surplus of other profanities, vulgarities and jokes aimed at ethnic and religious sects. Equally self-indulgent, Frank badgers Bertram by modifying the doctor’s last name into a crude nickname that he repeats throughout the film. Even Gwen’s work with mummified bodies opens the door for an extended gag about a preserved part of the male anatomy. Fortunately a naked ghost who repeatedly shows up has the sense to keep his body parts cleverly covered.
Yet for all of Bertram’s bungling, narcissistic ineptitude in dealing with people, there are those who can see beneath his hardened shell. Especially commendable is Bertram’s dental partner, Dr. Prashar (Aasif Mandvi), who forgives the mordant-mouthed physician and pushes him onto the path of improved human relations. Other characters also change for the better as they deal with the sting of unexpected death or the departure of a loved one.
In Ghost Town, as well as elsewhere, it appears that easing some kinds of human suffering might be as simple as offering a listening ear and lending a hand.Starring Ricky Gervais, Tea Leoni, Greg Kinnear,. Running time: 102 minutes. Theatrical release September 18, 2008. Updated May 1, 2009
Rating & Content Info
Why is Ghost Town rated PG-13? Ghost Town is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some strong language, sexual humor and drug references.
The use of two strong sexual expletives and a host of other profanities, sexual innuendos and crude nicknames are an unfortunate distraction from this lively story about ghosts. Bertram’s insular and narrow-minded view of other ethnic, cultural and religious practices are also played for humor. Along with the theme of an adulterous spouse, sexual content involves brief jokes about hookers, porn films and the sex trade. A prolonged discussion of a mummified male sexual organ and the depiction of a naked ghost (without explicit nudity) are also included. Violent meetings between a bus and a pedestrian take place on screen—although shocking no blood or gore is shown. Conversations about death and medical procedures frequent the film. Social drinking is portrayed, as is a brief scene of health care workers smoking. Following a difficult break-up, a man begs another doctor for prescription drugs to deal with his feelings.
Page last updated May 1, 2009
More parents' guide for Ghost Town after the break...
Ghost Town Parents' Guide
The philosopher Philo of Alexandria once said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” What does Bertram discover about the female client from his dental office? What is her “great battle”? How does getting a broader view of her life change his feelings about her actions?
What kinds of closure were the characters, both living and dead, in this film seeking? How can unresolved issues affect a person? What is Gwen’s unanswered question?
Bertram believes that a person lives alone, stays alone, and dies alone. Is loneliness sometimes a choice? How can a person overcome feelings of isolation?
The most recent home video release of Ghost Town movie is December 27, 2008. Here are some details…
Release Date: 30 December 2008
Ghost Town materializes on DVD and Blu-ray with the following skeletons in its closet: an audio commentary with director David Koep and actor Ricky Gervais, a making-of Ghost Town, a look at the film’s Ghostly Effects, and the featurette Some People Can Do It. The DVD comes with audio tracks in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English, French and Spanish), with subtitles in English, French and Spanish. The Blu-ray disc offers audio tracks in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English, French and Spanish), with subtitles in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.
Related home video titles:
Greg Kinnear plays a philandering playboy who thinks he’s fallen in love with the daughter of the family’s chauffeur in Sabrina. Love relations are just as difficult when T?a Leoni takes on the role of a woman whose boyfriend decides to court at career on Wall Street instead of her in A Family Man. Ricky Gervais stars as a stuttering museum curator who is unable to finish a thought in the engaging film Night at the Museum.