Ghost Town 

Reviewer's grade: B

For things that don't exist, ghosts sure get a lot of screen time. From "Topper" in the late Thirties to the silly afterlife romance "Ghost" to M. Night Shyamalan's only good movie "The Sixth Sense," the dead walk large in the world of make-believe. "Ghost Town," the latest entry in this venerable movie subgenre, stars Ricky Gervais as dentist Bertram Pincus, a Grinch-type who hates his patients, has no friends or girlfriends, and spends most of his time avoiding conversations in general.

After what was supposed to be a routine colonoscopy, Dr. Bertram notices some very odd people following him around. After a return visit to the hospital, Pincus is told he died "a little" during his procedure. Putting two and two together, he concludes that by dying briefly he's become some sort of bridge between the world of the living and that of the dead.

And as in "The Sixth Sense," it turns out the dead need help moving into the light. But despite the solid cast and writing, as a whole "Ghost Town" ends up leaving a generic, forgettable aftertaste. It's almost as if the pacing too-effectively mimics real life in the way it portrays ups and downs and how those peaks tend to average out given enough time.

Here, the narrative arc's peaks and valleys mostly cancel out, leaving us on a moderate high not much above a shrug. That's not to say "Ghost Town" isn't worth seeing, because it is. But placed within the continuum of ghost movies, it flatlines someplace north of the middle but south of truly memorable. PG-13

"?Mike Robertson

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