Ghost Town is a 2008 American supernatural comedy-drama film directed by David Koepp, who also co-wrote the screenplay with John Kamps. It stars English comedian Ricky Gervais in his first leading feature-film role, as a dentist who can see and talk with ghosts, along with Téa Leoni as a young widow and Greg Kinnear as her recently deceased husband. Gavin Palone produced the film for DreamWorks Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment and Pariah and distributed by Paramount Pictures.
Plot[edit | edit source]
|Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
The film begins as married New York City businessman Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear) is accidentally killed while trying to buy an apartment for his mistress. Shortly afterward, cynical dentist Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais) has a near-death experience while under general anesthetic during a colonoscopy. When he recovers, he is able to see and communicate with ghosts who populate the area. The ghosts annoy Bertram by asking him to help them with personal business that was left unfinished when they died. Frank promises to keep the other ghosts away if Bertram will break up an engagement between Frank's widow Gwen (Leoni), a professional Egyptologist, and Richard (Billy Campbell), a human-rights lawyer who Frank says is dishonest. Bertram eventually agrees to the deal and tries to woo Gwen away from Richard. Bertram's past rudeness to Gwen makes this difficult, but he attracts her interest by analyzing the teeth of a mummified Egyptian Pharaoh that she has been studying.
When Bertram has dinner with Gwen and Richard, he decides that Richard is not as bad as Frank claimed, but Bertram himself begins to fall in love with Gwen, and she enjoys Bertram's sense of humor. At another dinner, Gwen reveals that she learned of Frank's mistress the day he died, and when Richard visits Bertram for some dental work, Bertram drugs him with laughing gas in order to make him reveal that Gwen has broken their engagement. Frank doesn't understand why he is still on Earth if his "unfinished business" was to break up Richard and Gwen.
Gwen, not being engaged to Richard any longer, says yes to a proposal that would send her to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt for six months. As a going-away present, Bertram gets her a new key chain from a fancy jeweler's, as she had earlier mentioned that she desperately needed one. But when he mistakenly reveals information about Gwen that only Frank could have known, she demands the truth, and Bertram tells her the whole story about the ghosts. Gwen doesn't believe him and demands to know what Frank's worst nightmare was. Frank lies to Bertram, telling him a fake nightmare, and Gwen, thinking that Bertram has been lying to her and playing some kind of game, walks away and cuts him off. Bertram demands to know why Frank lied to him about the nightmare, and Frank points out that Bertram only cares about his own needs.
Bertram sinks into a depression and asks a fellow dentist (Aasif Mandvi), for medication that will help him forget Gwen. His colleague instead convinces him that his life would be better if he decided to stop being selfish and start helping people. Bertram begins helping the ghosts around him with their "unfinished business" on Earth, bringing comfort to people they left behind and enabling the ghosts to depart. As he does this he realizes that the ghosts were still on Earth not because they had unfinished business, but because the people they were close to were not finished with them. He begins to appreciate life and the people he encounters.
Bertram realizes that the reason Frank cannot leave is that Gwen has not let go of him yet. He confronts Gwen who asks him to ask Frank why she wasn't enough for him, and Frank says he's sorry for hurting her, which Bertram tells Gwen. Gwen is incredulous that after his infidelity, all Frank would have to say was 'sorry' and thinks that Bertram is making it all up. He rushes after her and while trying to persuade her to believe him, gets hit by a bus. Bertram, now a ghost himself, watches with Frank as people crowd around his body and Gwen sobs over him. Richard arrives on his way to the reception and tries to revive Bertram with prayer and CPR. Seeing how distraught Gwen is, Frank gives Bertram 'some advice' that will be useful in case he is resuscitated, and tells him that Gwen's tears are for Bertram, in other words she loves him. After saying this, Frank is finally allowed to leave the earthly plane.
Bertram wakes up alive in the hospital. Later Gwen, who needs dental work, comes in for an appointment with another dentist but finds Bertram's office to say hello. Bertram tells Gwen of Frank's real nightmare--that of losing his way home, which was the advice Frank told him, and then assures her that Frank has 'found his way home.' The movie ends with Gwen saying, "It hurts when I smile", to which Bertram replies "I can fix that for you".
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Cast[edit | edit source]
- Ricky Gervais as Bertram Pincus, a misanthropic dentist who gains the ability to communicate with ghosts.
- Téa Leoni as Gwen, an Egyptologist and Frank's widow.
- Greg Kinnear as Frank Herlihy, a ghost who befriends Bertram.
- Aasif Mandvi as Dr. Prashar, Bertram's colleague.
- Billy Campbell as Richard, Gwen's love interest, whom Frank warns is a "bad man".
- Alan Ruck as the ghost of a family man; he competes with Frank for Bertram's attention.
- Kristen Wiig as Bertram's self-involved surgeon.
- Brian d'Arcy James as Irish Eddie
- Jeff Hiller as a naked ghost.
- Michael-Leon Wooley as a medical attorney.
- Aaron Tveit as the anesthesiologist.
- Bridget Moloney as the receptionist.