Ghost Town

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Movie: Ghost Town

Where You Can Stream It: Amazon Prime

The Pitch: After a near-death experience during a routine colonoscopy, people-hating dentist Bertrum Pincus (Ricky Gervais) is shocked to discover that he is suddenly able to talk to the dead. Constantly cornered by unhappy spirits who want him to help resolve their earthly problems, the misanthropic Pincus is driven to distraction. Eventually talked into helping the dearly departed Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear), Pincus attempts to talk to Frank’s widow, Gwen (Téa Leoni)

Why It’s Essential Viewing: David Koepp is best known for writing blockbusters hits like Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man and War of the Worlds. Comedian Ricky Gervais is known for being smarmy, snarky, and generally pompous. But when these two come together in Ghost Town, the result is a charming romantic comedy that somehow turns Ricky Gervais into an endearing leading man when all is said and done. Read More »

The first trailer released for Brett Ratner‘s new film Tower Heist was very obviously a trailer for a Ratner film, complete with pumping music, flying shots of the tower in which the action takes place, and a jokey introduction to the story and cast. (Which features Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Téa Leoni, Gabourey Sidibe, Casey Affleck, Stephen Henderson, Judd Hirsch, Michael Peña, and Alan Alda.)

This second trailer is much more focused on the crazy stuff the cast gets up to as they try to rob a Wall St. power broker who has defrauded the staff of his high-rise building. Check out the wacky action — which is also very recognizably Ratner — after the break. Read More »

Watch the trailer for Tower Heist, below, and see how long it takes to guess who made it. (Assuming you don’t already know.)

The film follows a group of people who work in a wealthy New York City high rise building. When the building’s penthouse resident (Alan Alda, playing a Bernie Madoff-like scumbag) defrauds everyone in the building, the motley crew (led by Ben Stiller and including Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Téa Leoni, Michael Peña, and Gabourey Sidibe) recruits a criminal (Eddie Murphy) to help them steal their money back. Read More »

Briefly: We just saw a behind the scenes photo from Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist in Page 2 this morning, but here’s a real still, scanned from Entertainment Weekly. You probably don’t need the rundown on the lineup here, but from l-r that’s Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick, Michael Pena, Casey Affleck and, yep, Eddie Murphy. They’re the crew that works in a high-rise building where the penthouse is occupied by an unscrupulous businessman under house arrest. (He’s played by Alan Alda.) The Wall St. crook has taken the crew’s pension, and they aim to steal it back.

Not pictured are Téa Leoni, Gabourey Sidibe, and Judd Hirsch. It’s a hell of a cast, and my generally dismissive views of Brett Ratner notwithstanding, I’m hoping for something good here. Would be so good to see Eddie Murphy in a film that was worth a damn. Dreamgirls was a recent positive blip in an otherwise dismal late career. [via The Playlist]

Brett Ratner‘s new movie, the thriller/action/comedy Tower Heist, is prepping to shoot in November in New York City. The cast is enough to earn at least an interested glance: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda, Gabourey Sidibe and Michael Pena. Now there are two new additions: Téa Leoni and Nina Arianda.

Jeff Nathanson is currently rewriting the Ted Griffin script that got this picture moving. It’s about a group of employees in a big NYC building who set out to rob the fat cat living in the penthouse when they learn he’s plundered their pension fund. I’ll refer back to our last casting note on the movie for my general thoughts: I like the cast and want to see Eddie Murphy do a movie that doesn’t suck, so I’m rooting for this one. Even if prevailing opinion has pre-decided that it’ll be a waste of time, thanks to Brett Ratner. But it’s a heist movie, after all, which is my key weakness. [Variety]

After the break, Glee‘s Lea Michele hits the big screen. Read More »

Michael and Mark Polish (Twin Falls Idaho, Northfork, The Astronaut Farmer) return with a new film titled Manure, which is set to premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Téa Leoni, Billy Bob Thornton, Kyle MacLachlan star in a comic tale centered on manure salesmen in the early 1960s. The plot synopsis follows:

When a tragic accident ends the life of Mr. Rose, the genius behind Rose’s Manure Company, the livelihood of its loyal fleet of salesmen threatens to go, as they say, into the toilet. Enter estranged daughter Rosemary (Leoni), a high-class- cosmetics salesgirl, who steps in to take control. She is not sure she has a nose for the family business, but she is determined to make foul into profit. Little does she know that a ruthless, slick-talking fertilizer rep is plotting a takeover. Whether she likes it or not, she must trust her top salesman (Thornton) to devise a plan to regain Rose’s rightful position on top of the heap.”

The film’s tagline is “Sometimes you have to step in it to learn how to avoid it.” Even when I haven’t always loved the stories (Astronaut Farmer), I’ve very much enjoyed the look and tone of the Polish Brothers past film efforts. The early production photos show a beautiful unsaturated classic sepia golden look.

The early teaser trailer is short and sweet, and lack’s the golden look seen in the production photos. I’m guessing the trailer was just for promotional purposes. Sundance programer John Cooper calls the film “a wholly original, decidedly irreverent, yet enchantingly classic comic adventure from the 1960s.”

Manure premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20th 2009.

TIFF Movie Review: Ghost Town

In about 6 seconds, I will lose a lot of geek cred… 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… I’m not a fan of Ricky Gervais. There, I said it. Also, I have yet to get into either the British or American versions of The Office. ::gasp:: I know, a travesty. That said, I caught David Koepp‘s Ghost Town at the Toronto Film Festival, and I didn’t hate it. I also didn’t love it either. It’s your paint-by-numbers romantic comedy, with a little dry humor thrown in for good measure.

In Ghost Town, Gervais plays a loner dentist who dies for seven minutes during a routine operation, and is now able to see ghosts. Living in New York City, you can imagine there are a lot of ghosts. The ghosts need Gervais to help them fix the various unfinished business before they are allowed to enter the after life. And once all of the ghosts realize that someone can see them, they won’t leave Gervais alone. So for Ricky, it is a nightmare instead of a gift. Ricky just wants to be left alone.

Greg Kinnear plays Frank, a cheating husband who narrowly escapes being crushed by a falling air conditioner only to be hit by a bus a second later (movie cliche #1). Frank offers to get rid of all the ghosts if Ricky can fix his problem, which is to scare off his ex-wife’s (played by Téa Leoni) “money grubbing” human rights lawyer fiancée. And of course, when a connection develops between Ricky and Gwen, the film goes into full-on romantic comedy mode.

Ghost Town is a movie that you’ve already seen. It’s a romantic comedy version of Ghost, with Just Like Heaven and Roxanne thrown in for good measure. It’s not bad, but the whole thing feels below Gervais. It’s like the guy from the British Office got trapped in a generic American romantic comedy. The main gag involves Gervais being caught by others talking to “thin air” and having to talk his way out of it. You can imagine that this gets old pretty fast. Kristen Wiig is wonderful as the quirky spray-on tanning surgeon who is responsible, but not legally liable for Ricky’s short lived death.

/Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

You Kill Me: Watch the First 8 Minutes Online

You Kill Me Movie PosterIFC Films has posted the first 8 minutes of John Dahl’s new dramatic comedy thriller You Kill Me. The film follows Frank Falenczyk (Ben Kingsley), a hit-man for his Polish mob family in Buffalo, New York. Frank’s drinking problem messes up a critical assignment that puts the family business in peril. His uncle (Philip Baker Hall) sends him to San Francisco to clean up his act. Frank starts going to AA meetings, gets a sponsor (Luke Wilson) and a job at a mortuary where he falls for the tart-tongued Laurel (Téa Leoni), a woman who is dangerously devoid of boundaries. Meanwhile, things aren’t going well in Buffalo where an upstart Irish gang is threatening the family business. When violence erupts, Frank is forced to return home and with an unlikely assist from Laurel, faces old rivals on new terms.

Check out the first 8 minutes after the jump. You Kill Me hits theaters on June 22nd.

Read More »