Movie Mind Says: Add to Online Rental List
If You Like This You Should Watch: Death Becomes Her
Better Than: Down to Earth
Worse Than: Heaven Can Wait
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, Tea Leoni
I often preach about how a viewer’s expectations can seriously steer their opinions of a film. So remember to temper my review with the fact that I was expecting absolutely nothing from this film. I was on a plane and after learning that the satellite TV was not working and instead of ESPN highlights I had to choose between Beverly Hills Chihuahua, The House Bunny, and this film. Needless to say, I was simply looking to pass the time until we touched down. Surprisingly, I found myself mildly amused some of the time. That may be as warm as I will get for this miscast romantic comedy, but it’s more than I thought I was going to be able to muster up.
Do you know why the hit NBC comedy The Office is such a big hit? It’s because they were smart enough to recast it before adapting the British sitcom. Now I am not bashing Ricky Gervais because I think he is a pretty funny dude. But the sole reason Steve Carrell is so successful as Michael Scott is due to the fact that he is very likable. Besides being very funny and having impeccable timing, we find him an easy character, and person, to root for. While Gervais might be even more clever than his American counterpart, he lacks the ability to play a likable character. He is way too smug to root for. That was clearly evident in this film. He has no business playing a romatic love interest of anybody, or even a character that supposedly has depth. He is best used as the dry-wit sidekick and not a lead.
Gervais is Bertram Pincus, a dentist who simply can’t stand people. He has about as much affection for people as they have for him. He is arrogant and has no desire to interact in a social manner whatsoever. So he is quite shocked to find out there are people he can’t get away from. After a routine surgery, he finds out he crossed over to the other side long enough to be able to connect with the dead. He sees ghosts everywhere and they see him too. These ghosts are stuck in a middle ground and cannot move on to the full afterlife until their unfinished earthly business is cleared up. Unfortunately for them, Pincus has about as much affection for the dead as he does the living.
Greg Kinnear buddies up to Pincus in an effort to solve his “issues”, only he does not know what they are yet. Through his direction, Pincus becomes interested in his former wife (Tea Leoni). This is where the film goes from comical to screwy and awkward when Pincus all of sudden grows a heart and tries to become a better person. He is a schmuck all movie, and we are now supposed to believe that Leoni could possibly have some emotional interest in this schlub. As you would expect, things get wrapped up nice and neat in the end to solidify this film as deeply average. I hope casting directors spend a little more time focusing on Gervais’ strengths and leaving him out of these roles in the future. You can’t have cutesy love-story along with his coldness and humor.
Interesting Cameo Appearance: Aasif Mandvi (aka regular correspondent on John Stewart’s The Daily Show and seemingly had a cameo in every CSI and Law & Order ever created) as Pincus’ fellow dentist, Dr. Prashar.
Hospital Nurse: Come back soon.
Bertram Pincus: What a terrible thing to say in a hospital.
Bertram Pincus: Invasion of my privacy, that’s what it is.
Hospital Nurse: Wait’ll they get you in the back.
Bertram Pincus: All work and no play makes Jack- a vital member of society.
Bertram Pincus: Did anything usual happen during my operation?
Surgeon: You… uh… died for seven minutes.
Bertram Pincus: I died! For seven minutes!
Surgeon: We brought you right back. People die all the time.
Bertram Pincus: Yeah, but it’s usually just once… at the end.