I really wish more mediocre romantic comedies were as good as
Ghost Town. I don't mean Groundhog's Day good;
I mean not some horrible shit written to make really gullible
and lonely women get misty.
rules to romantic comedies that dictate that the story sucks.
I don't know who wrote the rules, but it's probably the same
dumbass who did the rules for the WNBA and forbade tear-away
jerseys. I spent four fucking years watching and re-watching
every minute of televised women's basketball before I realized
that, even if the all the ladies on both teams did get into
a massive catfight, their tops still wouldn't get ripped off
and tits would be swinging every which way. I thought that if
the boobs were exposed, all those competitive lesbians start
licking and sucking and moaning. And when that happened, I would
no longer have to watch alone, or get punched in the nuts when
I asked for the Tavern's TV to be turned to ESPN2 for the next
Detroit Shock-LA Sparks rumble.
can't be torn off. The semi-metallic under-armor bras they strap
into prevent it. Those are the rules that prevent WNBA from
being all that it can--and should--be. Romantic comedies have
similar constraints to keep them from greatness. The guy has
to be a cad and/or improbable lover at the start. Maybe it's
because he's always been her best friend, or because he was
misunderstood, he was unseen or because he hadn't transformed
from asshole to gentleman yet. The woman has to be smart and
successful, but feminine, but romantically confused. Usually,
she's been hurt before and now in a relationship that we can
see within ten minutes is bad for her, but that she (smart and
I know this
shit not because I took a class. Although, I would guess some
of those East Coast film schools spend a year alone on the subject.
I know this because I am unemployed and watch a shitload of
Lifetime Channel Movies, because the WNBA isn't on all the time.
And one of these times in one of those fucking awful movies
with all their scenes of women showering while pondering their
dilemmas, Lifetime is going to screw up and let us see Jane
Seymour or Joanna Kern's ass reflected in a mirror. I am a patient
in romantic comedies, the rules dictate that the man realize
what a fool/cad he's been, and that the woman somehow find a
deeper level of profundiity that means she can see why the cad/fool
is right for her. Of course, just when she figures this out,
something from his past, or some secret, comes back to bite
him in the ass, and she gets mad at him. That gives him the
chance to really prove he's changed and worthy of her love now.
the woman in the romantic comedy is the passive object of desire,
and her inherent beauty of sweetness is enough to drive a man
to perfection. Of course, that's a bullshit fantasy as any woman
who has ever married me (IE. Mrs. Filthy) knows. Men don't easily
change, and not without enough alcohol to make us believe our
eyes are slowly leaking out of our heads, Swedish-furniture
porn and a no-nagging clause if we occasionally come home with
an unemployment check's worth of spicy tacos.
Town follows the formula, and it ends with a load of bullshit
that can't possibly please anyone but very sad, delusional women.
But it has Ricky Gervais in its lead. He's short, dumpy and
has bad teeth. He's really funny without being desperate and
hammy. He plays Bertram Pincus, an impersonal jerk of a British
dentist in New York. During his colonoscopy, he briefly dies.
When he wakes, he can see dead people, and they all want him
to do them some favors. They are in some sort of purgatory and
can't move on until they resolve their last issues.
is the pretty--but not threateningly sexy to the Lifetime crowd--smart
and successful widower who lives in Gervais' building. Her husband
(Greg Kinnear) was hit by a bus and is now one of the ghosts
that haunts Gervais. Kinnear thinks she's about to marry the
wrong guy and wants Gervais to stop her. As must happen in a
romantic comedy, Gervais falls for her and must overcome his
own boorishness to win her heart. He also has to prove he's
not a weirdo, but a guy who really can talk to the dead.
As I said,
the plot is predictable. But Gervais is great and his character
is clever. He's not a total prick, even when he does everything
he can to avoid personal contact. He's not handsome or particularly
charming. He's arrogant, rude, self-centered and as played by
Gervais, likable. Maybe it's because he's smart without the
movie pointing out that he is, or maybe it's because Gervaiis
understands subtlety and value in comedy based on the audience
wincing at the foibles of a sympathetic protagonist. The movie
rarely resorts to a cheap joke or forces a gag, instead relying
on the jokes that come naturally from the characters. And that's
fine as the smart, vulnerable broad, but she doesn't get any
sharp lines or much to do. Well, she's really into mummies,
which I find hot, but not in a necrophilia kind of way. Necrophilia
is gross to me. But, having sex with a mummy watching, That's
is rounded out by sidekicks and bit parts that achieve a level
of subtlety never seen on Lifetime. Leoni's fiance (played by
Billy Campbell) isn't as big an asshole as Kinnear wants, but
he is annoyingly earnest and melodramatic. Aasif Mandvi has
a fine, touching cameo as a fellow doctor whose social skills
are the exact opposite of Gervais'. And Kristen Wiig has a great
cameo as a proctologist with a spray-on tan.
is New York City, and it looks the same as it does in every
romantic comedy not made by Woody Allen. Too many shots of Central
Park and tall buildings, plenty of brownstones in the background.
No assholes yelling into their cellphones or shoving you down
the subway stairs just for throwing up on their empanada stand.
No hordes of rats scaling the walls of the Hotel Carter. The
setting adds almost nothing to the movie and emphasizes the
idea that, without a few bonuses, Ghost Town would be
the same old shit.
though, Ghost Town is inspiration not to give up on romantic
comedies. Three Fingers for the idea that even lame-ass
ideas can be salvaged by an unexpected flair. Which is why I
will continue to watch the WNBA. One of these days, one of those
ladies may bring a pair of wire cutters into a game, a jersey
will come off, and I will have premium fuel for my fantasy machine.
to tell Filthy Something?