A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Why do I think Ricky Gervais is so funny in "Ghost Town"? Because he doesn't want to appear funny. He wants to appear aggravated. He plays a character named Bertram Pincus, who does not suffer fools gladly. When you consider everyone to be a fool, that can be a heavy cross to bear. Gervais, a British actor whose work on television is legion, has at last found a leading role in a feature, and it's a good one.
Bertram Pincus is not a happy camper. He is a dentist, a profession in which he finds delight in preventing patients from talking with him. He is unmarried, friendless, a loner, meticulous, obtuse, at times ridiculous. When a birthday cake is laid on for a friendly colleague in his office, he sneaks out. To join in the celebration would make his skin crawl. He is nasty to innocent bystanders.
He does all of this in a British accent, almost between clenched teeth, and remains me a little of Terry-Thomas at full flood: an unmitigated bounder wrapped in propriety. He is about to have his moat breached. This assault is set in motion when a bus flattens Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear). Frank's death turns out to be linked to Bertram's colonoscopy. As you can imagine, Bertram is a man who considers a colonoscopy a grievous violation of privacy.
Bertram is technically dead for seven minutes during the procedure. (Don't put yours off; this is a microscopically rare phenomenon.) That makes him sort of half-dead, half-alive after he recovers, and as a result, he can see both living people and ghosts. This puts him in urgent demand among the ghosts, who yearn to communicate with their loved ones and need him as a medium. The most desperate ghost he encounters is Frank, who was having an affair with his yoga instructor, but now deeply regrets it and wants to communicate with Gwen, his widow (Tea Leoni).