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Ghost Town 

You're mean one, Mr. Gervais.

Ghost TownThere's so much unassuming likeability to Ghost Town, I can understand the temptation to believe it works better than it does. The new feature, directed by prolific screenwriter David Koepp, is about the transformation of a grinch. Dentist Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais) isn't good at hiding his contempt for the ordinary people around him. Fittingly, he has no social skills. After dying for seven minutes during a colonoscopy, he sees dead people everywhere. Bertram is left to resolve ties between a recently deceased man (Greg Kinnear) and his wife (Téa Leoni), who has begun dating someone else. But with this love rectangle (or square?), Koepp takes too long establishing which guy should end up with her. His original approach to romantic comedy---Bertram only starts to pursue the good things in life once he's in touch with death---is aided by his cast.

Like Bill Murray's redemptive arcs in Scrooged and Groundhog Day, it's mandatory that Gervais be compelling even when he's an Ebenezer. But the comedy stays too light. Ghost Town is pleasant---not hysterical, and that softens its final emotions.

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Vol 25, No 26
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