So yes, “Ghost Town” is basically “The Ghost Whisperer” starring Ricky Gervais in Jennifer Love Hewitt’s role on the television series, but here’s the thing: this movie has Ricky Gervais as its ghost whisperer and that makes all the difference. And yes, just like on the CBS television series, Gervais as “Dr. Pinkus” (ahem, remember “The [British] Office“?), not only sees ghosts but once the ghosts realize he can see ghosts, they all have unfinished earthly business they want him to finish so they can “cross over” or go to heaven or disappear in a flash of divine light– which is also what happens on “The Ghost Whisperer.”
The idea behind this film therefore, I admit, is not an original one, but Ricky Gervais’s Dr. Pinkus–a people-avoiding dentist who dies for seven minutes during a colonoscopy (!!) and comes back to life with this newfound ability–is not to be missed. Not only is it side-splitting, tears-running-down-your-face funny (it also stars Greg Kinnear, Kristen Wiig, and an amazing Tea Leoni), but it is also tears-running-down-your-face sweet. It’s hard not to choke up when this people-avoiding, oddball of a man, Dr. Pinkus, discovers his altruistic side and begins to help these ghosts cross into heaven, not to mention get the girl.
What I want to know is the following: How does Ricky Gervais pull of this funny-man/sweet man routine all the time? He did it on the British “The Office” too. And this time he makes the syrupy “Ghost Whisperer” formula not only palatable but wonderful. It’s quite a talent.