Ghost Town (2008)

RedBox, you’ve done it again.  You’ve given me the ability to see movies I didn’t trust enough to see earlier.  I’ve always found that I like Ricky Gervais, but I never trust his movies.  First I was surprised by The Invention of Lying to find that I liked it, then I was not as surprised to find I did not care for either Night at the Museum movies.  This movie is not those movies.  This movie is Ghost Town, starring of course Gervais, Greg Kinnear, Tea Leoni, with a little bit from Aasif Mandvi and Kristen Wiig.

Ghost Town is the story of a douche nozzle named Bertram Pincus (Gervais), a dentist, who goes in to a doctor for surgery on his butt, administered by Kristen Wiig.  On his way home he starts seeing people that people can walk through.  People of questionable amounts of life.  People that are ghosts.  Zak Bagans runs in and shoves a digital recorder in their face, but Gervais can hear them sans digital recorders, and see them without the use of full-spectrum cameras.  Gervais is quick to return to Wiig to find that he died a little during his surgery, which has caused him to Haley Joel Osment it up.  The most pushy of the ghosts is recently deceased Greg Kinnear who needs Gervais to help his widow Tea Leoni break up with her boyfriend who only wants her for her money that Kinnear left her.  Gervais, being a more douchey version of myself (someone who does not like other people), develops a bit of a crush on Leoni and decides the best way to get her to dump her boyfriend is to become her boyfriend himself.  The rest of the movie is the quest to make this happen before Bruce Willis shows up.

I’m going to throw out all subtlety here: This movie is great.  It’s equal parts funny and touching, and also something I can find myself relating to because I feel that my loner ways will eventually progress to the levels of Gervais’ in this movie, and this will happen while I work to become a dentist.  I wouldn’t say that this movie is laugh out loud funny in the same vein as previously reviewed Hot Tub Time Machine as that’s not really Gervais’ style.  It’s subtle and witty humor, which I tend to value about as highly as the laugh out loud kind.  I may have mentioned it in another review (I’ve kind of lost track by now), but I one day intend to marry Kristen Wiig, or at least kidnap her and force her to entertain me.  Wiig tends to be the funniest part of any movie she’s in, and she keeps that up here.  The rest of the movie is pretty funny too.  It’s also nice to see Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi showing up in more movies, as I believe the only other one’s I’ve seen him in are Spiderman 3 and The Last Airbender, and I like him too much to think he deserves such a resume.

This movie is more than a simple comedy.  It has a dusting of Rom-Com to it as well.  But it’s also very touching, as aforementioned.  Obviously there’s going to be sadness when there are dead people around, but the big secret of the movie (Spoiler, I suppose) is that the ghosts are not, in fact, stuck around because THEY have unfinished business, but because the people they loved won’t let them go.  So it’s not until Leoni falls for Gervais (or the other way around, not to spoil that) that Kinnear can finally be let go.  And the last scene is just purdy.  Leoni comes to visit Gervais in his dentist office because she has something wrong with her tooth, and the movie ends with Leoni saying “It hurts when I smile” and Gervais saying “I can help you with that”.  That is just damn purdy writing.

This movie has the kind of message I like to see in a movie: That someone uglier and fatter than me with similar personality problems can get better and land them a Tea Leoni.  And as I’m skinnier, prettier, and less emotionally damaged than Gervais in this movie, I should be able to land a younger Tea Leoni, like Leoni from Bad Boys.  Mmmmmmm.  Sorry, I got distracted.  I give this movie “The feel good movie I REALLY needed to see today” out of 13.

Paul (2011)

It should come as no surprise to the people that know me that I listen to a lot of podcasts. Two of said podcasts I regularly listen to lead me to the movie I’m about to review. Those podcasts are Doug Benson’s ‘Doug Loves Movies’ and Chris Hardwick’s ‘The Nerdist’. In both of these podcasts, they had on one of my favorite comedic actors to discuss this movie. That actor? Simon Pegg. That movie? Paul, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (You SHOULD know them from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), with the voice of Seth Rogen (How could you NOT know him) as the voice of Paul.

This movie follows Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as two nerds and aspiring writers who go to ComicCon and then go on a road trip through the most popular alien sighting locations of America. After leaving ComicCon (which you should know happens most famously in San Diego), their next stop is perhaps the largest alien hot spot, Area 51. Shortly after leaving the Black Mailbox (look it up), they are followed by a black car that then spins out of control and crashes. They go to investigate to find that the driver of the car was a small alien who introduces himself as Paul. Shortly after, they stop at a RV park for the night and end up kidnapping super-religious Kristen Wiig. They fix her of her uber-religiousness and she becomes hilarious. They are also chased by 3 law enforcement types (or as they would best be described, Men in Black) played by Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, and Joe Lo Truglio.

The plot of the movie, I’ll say it, is a little haphazard. I didn’t even really know that they were driving Paul to be picked up by his people until like 3 quarters in to the movie. The positive thing I could say about that is I didn’t give a shit. There were many laugh out loud parts to this movie (and, as I’ve said, I don’t laugh out loud to many movies), most of which belonged to Kristen Wiig. Can I tangent here for a bit? I fucking love Kristen Wiig. I would make such a baby for her right now, whether she wanted me to or not. Probably good that I don’t come in proximity to her, I suppose. I would hate to have to get all rapey. Anyway, Kristen Wiig is by far the funniest part of any movie she’s in, the only exception in this case is that everyone else holds their own to a good degree. And there are SO many hilarious people in this movie. I’ve already mentioned Pegg, Frost, Rogen, Bateman, Hader, and Lo Truglio, but there are also small bit parts where Bobby Lee, Jeffrey Tambor, Jane Lynch, and David Koechner did some good. The only problem I found with the casting is that Bateman, as Agent Zoil, was not only a straight man (that he’s usually so good at), but a badass, which I didn’t know he could do. The problem with that is that I felt his comedic talents were kind of wasted. I guess he could kind of take it easy with the rest of the cast being what they were. It’s not like he was playing opposite Jennifer Aniston and a cup of semen.

Another lovely part of this movie is all the nerd service they did, especially the ones that were so sneaky. And for any non-nerds that are watching this movie, here they are for you to look out for and not have to miss out on because you were too busy dating people to know. 1) When Pegg, Frost and Wiig enter a bar, the band is playing a rendition of the famous music from the bar in Star Wars: A New Hope. 2) At the very end, when some old lady knocks out Sigorney Weaver (Oh yeah, she’s here too. And not to go off topic too much, but regardless of age, I’d give it to Sigorney Weaver and/or Carrie Fischer if given the chance). But when the old woman knocks out Sigorney Weavery, she says “Get away from her, you bitch!” which is a line from the movie where Sigorney got to be a badass, Aliens. I think it was Aliens, not Alien. …ummmmmm…. yeah, it sounds right. 3) A smaller one, but the name of the firework they signal Paul’s people with is the 5 tones, and they play the famous 5 tones, made famous by Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I’m only vaguely positive that’s the movie it’s from, but if I’m wrong, I’m sorry I haven’t seen it. And if I’m right, my nerdiness runs so deep, I know a lot about movies I haven’t even seen!

I only bought this movie on a whim, having not seen it in theaters, because if I bought the Big Lebowski on Blu-Ray with either Paul or Your Highness, I got a t-shirt. And I don’t trust Your Highness enough to buy it on a whim. I’ll totally watch it, but I don’t expect much. I didn’t expect that much out of Paul, but Pegg and Frost didn’t let me down. This is by far the worst of the 3 films I know they’ve worked on, but when you’re the worst amongst Shaun of the Dead (arguably my favorite zombie movie ever) and Hot Fuzz (almost INarguably my favorite cop action movie), you shouldn’t feel too bad about being behind a bit.

I won’t promise you’ll all like it, but if you tell me you don’t laugh, I’ll think there’s something wrong with your brain. …out of 5…