Opening 29 Jan 2009
Dentist Dr. Pincus (Ricky Gervais) momentarily dies for seven minutes on the operating table. This near-death experience puts him in the unique position of being able to see recently deceased people in New York City; they beg Pincus to contact their co-workers and relatives in the real world to help wind-up unfinished business. These ghosts could then, in good conscience, disappear permanently. One especially obnoxious ghost is Frank (Greg Kinnear), dressed in black tie and smoking (everyone appears as he did during his last moments on earth). Frank worries that his widow Gwen (Téa Leoni) is making a huge mistake in the choice of her next husband. Pincus agrees to help by competing for the hand of Gwen. That’s a practical solution considering that he and Gwen live in the same apartment building. The greatest hindrance is that Pincus has always been a loner, a misanthrope. As a dentist he gladly shoved things into his patients’ mouths to prevent communication. Suddenly, he has to contend with people from his normal life (dental office staff, concierge), a possible girlfriend and hundreds of clamoring ghosts who invade his bedroom at night. We are not surprised when, in the end, Dr. Pincus, a wiser, nicer member of society, learns to appreciate people.
I have no complaint with the message of this film by David Koepp. The main problem is that there is too much repetitive small talk taking a long time to go anywhere. Also, although British actor Ricky Gervais has won many awards for comedy television shows, here his British accent doesn’t seem to fit in, although there are enough other foreigners in supporting roles. (Becky Tan)