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Ghost Town

An uptight dentist gets a ghost; we get laughs and lessons

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It's a new riff on a familiar comedic plot: Troublesome ghosts enlist the living in order to tidy up the loose ends left hanging when they were suddenly whisked off this mortal coil. The pesky specter in David Koepp's comedy is Frank (Greg Kinnear), a well-to-do philanderer who needs a warm body to prevent his widow, Gwen (Téa Leoni), from re-marrying. Unfortunately, the mortal he enlists – peevish, anti-social dentist Bertram (Ricky Gervais) – is the worst man for the job – and thus, it's all very amusing for us. The film's first half has quite a few laughs: Gervais is marvelously adept at playing hilariously awkward, petty clueless sorts, and he even lets us glimpse the little sad man underneath, when inevitably Bertram falls for Gwen. But, subplots about other needy ghosts clutter up the story, and the film's headlong tumble into gooey sentimentality winds up trading gags for Hallmark moments. Starts Fri., Sept. 19. (AH)

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