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Posted at 10:31 AM ET, 09/16/2008

A Funny Thing Happened to Ricky Gervais

By Liz Kelly

This falls under the category of totally random musing, but I've seen the trailer for Ricky Gervais's upcoming movie, "Ghost Town," a couple of times now and I have to ask, "What the [expletive]?" Have a look for yourself:

From the perky piano music to the inclusion of Greg Kinnear, recycling his "Sabrina" tux and demeanor in his umpteenth performance as a slightly bruised, but charming underdog (albeit a dead one, this time), "Ghost Town" is poised to take its place next to "Ghost" in the pantheon of beyond-the-grave rom-coms. The main difference seems to be focus -- "Ghost Town" zooms in on the go-between between the living and dead, Gervais, where "Ghost's" medium -- Whoopi Goldberg -- was (thankfully) relegated to a supporting role.

Why Ricky Gervais, though? Has the mind that birthed "The Office" and "Extras" and hours of ground-breaking (and time-wasting) online entertainment really reached the point of inanity already? Is he, like Richard Pryor ("The Toy") and Eddie Murphy ("Vampire in Brooklyn," "Holy Man," "Norbit") before him, so comedically burned-out that he's making a desperate grab for cash in the first in a series of barely watchable lowbrow laughers?

Should we give Gervais a pass here and assume that this project was a regrettable, but necessary moneymaker that will enable him to continue to do more original, less lucrative work in the future? Or should we expect more from our leading creative minds? Should they shun these pathetic date movie projects and remain pure, keeping their legacies intact as practitioners or a higher art? Or, should we -- the entertainees -- grow up and realize that Hollywood hasn't yet met an actor -- be he a mere mannequin or a creative force like Gervais -- who isn't susceptible to the occasional (well-paying) fluff project?

By Liz Kelly  | September 16, 2008; 10:31 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, Miscellaneous  
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Comments

Worse, he is derivative. Our beloved Robert Downey, Jr. already did the "I see dead people and I have to help them cross to the other side" thing.

Posted by: ep | September 16, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to give him a pass because it's going to be funny.

It had better be funny.

Gawd, I hope it will be funny.

Posted by: byoolin | September 16, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Ease up, it looks funny.

Posted by: Kari | September 16, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Never mind whether the movie is any good or not. What's up with the ridiculous, over-the-top number of ads for it on USA? Can't a girl watch a "House" marathon in peace?

Posted by: other liz | September 16, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

If you want some funny Ricky Gervais, download his podcasts. It is hilarious. With Stephen Merchant and someone else, I don't remember his name, but Ricky and Stephen spends the show making fun of this guy who's not very bright. This movie just looks stupid and I can already tell how it will end.

Posted by: bingo | September 16, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Also, don't hate me, but I adore Greg Kinnear. I really do. There, I said it.

Posted by: other liz | September 16, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Come on give him a pass everyone needs a day job to support their passions. I mean if we can give Tom Hanks passes for "Bachelor Party" and that horrible show he did in drag on ABC then Ricky deserves a pass.

Posted by: DDSinNE | September 16, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Call me crazy, but I'm actually looking forward to seeing this movie (I'm sucker for a Greg Kinnear movie, I have no idea why, maybe it's fond memories of him being the spokesman for Eagle Cars all those years ago).

Plus the movie has Tea Leoni, that's a good enough reason to sit through it.

I was watching The (British) Office marathon on BBC this weekend and they clips of Ghost Town they showed looked pretty funny.

Posted by: Dorkus | September 16, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Here's an idea, why don't you wait for the movie to at least come out before bashing it. My guess is Gervais is a bit better at choosing his projects than you're giving him credit for.

Posted by: Charlie | September 16, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Well to give credit where credits due, Rotten Tomatoes has the movie currently at 100% which is excellent. From such notable critics such as the dude from eFilmCritic.com and EmanualLevy.com. Although Variety and New York Mag also gave it thumbs up. So whatever.

Posted by: DJ | September 16, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Spot on, Charlie. That's the rule: See a movie first before reviewing it based on the trailer, okay? Unless you are a trailer critic, then I suppose that's okay.

Anyway, the early word is good on this one. Looks like a movie from another era, a different time and place. Think Topper, not Whoopi. Might work, might not. But it's a rare movie that makes you kinda look forward to Friday these days...and I have to admit, this is one of those Fridays.

Posted by: Topper | September 16, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

My guess is that because its Ricky G it will be somewhat funny but that doesn't mean he isn't selling out a bit. Can't REALLY blame him but I hope it's not the beginning of a string of so-so movies of this nature.

I will watch it and I will laugh but I want better from you Ricky!

Posted by: sjcpeach | September 16, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Come on give him a pass everyone needs a day job to support their passions. I mean if we can give Tom Hanks passes for "Bachelor Party" and that horrible show he did in drag on ABC then Ricky deserves a pass.

Posted by: DDSinNE | September 16, 2008 11:00 AM

The major difference is that Tom Hanks did those projects BEFORE he became a 2-time Oscar winner.

Posted by: jensen | September 16, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

PS - what was that Robert Downey Jr. flick with the ghosts? I feel like I remembering liking it.

Posted by: sjcpeach | September 16, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

PS - what was that Robert Downey Jr. flick with the ghosts? I feel like I remembering liking it.

Posted by: sjcpeach | September 16, 2008 11:46 AM

Heart and Souls
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107091/

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

My tax dollars as a non parent wouldn't be used to fund a program for parents who also don't want to be responsible for their own kids' education either, right?

Posted by: Sandy H | September 16, 2008 8:08 AM

Nice sound bite. Now for some actual facts.

The only parents who are responsible for their own kids' education are homeschooling parents. Every other parent may support the schools and encourage their kids but they are not RESPONSIBLE for their kids education. That responsibility belongs to the teachers and the kids.

Posted by: Lisa | September 16, 2008 10:29 AM

I'm not sure what world Lisa lives in, but in this place we call reality parents ARE the ones who have ULTIMATE responsibility over their kids' education. Often the reason kids don't learn is b/c the parents don't support respectful behaviour in school and the teachers can't teach if they are babysitting. It is squarely and firmly on the shoulders of parents to make sure their kids are well-educated. After all, you had them, it was your choice, so take responsibility for them.

Posted by: ummm | September 16, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

The major difference is that Tom Hanks did those projects BEFORE he became a 2-time Oscar winner.

Posted by: jensen | September 16, 2008 11:45 AM

*****************************************

Well, once Ricky Gervais has his two Oscars, we'll hold him to a higher standard.

Posted by: Dorkus | September 16, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

To Bingo: Karl Pilkington.

Those podcasts are the best things on the Internet.

Posted by: Paul | September 16, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I can't find it now on IMDB. However, it was a kid who had 5 ghosts who were killed in a bus accident attached to him at birth. They sang "Walk like a man" a lot. He was supposed to help them cross over by finishing whatever business they had left undone on earth. As a kid, he was considered weird because he was always talking to the ghosts -- so he stopped talkign to them. Then -- something happened to the ghosts when he was an adult -- they HAD to solve their earthly problems or something bad would happen. So, he could see them as an adult again. One had to return some stolen stamps, one had to sing the National Anthem. Kyra Sedgwick (I think) had to reunite with the boyfriend she left back on the farm. All while RDJ's fiance's parents are in town.

Yep, remember every darn thing but the name.

Posted by: ep | September 16, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

ep, check out post at 11:55

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Yep, saw it after I typed the long a$$ synopsis. So, now you have the title and the storyline.

Posted by: ep | September 16, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Well, once Ricky Gervais has his two Oscars, we'll hold him to a higher standard.

Posted by: Dorkus | September 16, 2008 11:56 AM
-----------------------------------
Well Ricky's no slouch in the awards department, mostly for his writing.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0315041/awards

Though Tom Hanks did do some dreck AFTER his oscar wins -- The Da Vinci Code.

Posted by: jensen | September 16, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I think the idea of a reward system is fine, but not cash. If the students getting the money are from poor families, there's no way the parents aren't going to get access to it, and I don't think it's right to add the family's economic pressure like that on a kid. Many of them are under pressure to bring money home as it is - why add to it? And if the students are from middle-class or non-poor families, the families can generate the cash rewards themselves.

When I was in high school (the '70s, when dinosaurs roamed the earth), we had a reward system like the "cut cards" mentioned earlier. For having top grades and a good discipline record, you got in-school privileges, like not needing to be in a proctored study hall (you could go to the school library or sit outside on your own), leaving the grounds after your last class (no last-period study halls), or late-sign in if your first class wasn't first period. The number of perks you could earn went up for each grade. You earned the privileges and you were treated like an adult - that was a great incentive!

Also, the Phillies and one of the newspapers had a "Straight-A Student" contest each spring. If you had a straight-A report card, you sent in a copy to the team and you got two tickets to a game. The seats weren't great, but what a feeling of pride to be there and see the scoreboard brag about the Straight-A Section, and then hear the announcer call out the section and hear the fans cheer. (Yes, Philly phans do sometimes cheer.)

With all the sports groups, theatres, and museums in DC, maybe a few could offer incentives like tickets or behind-the-scene tours - a great reward for the kids and not at the expense of the school system at all.

Posted by: Leesburg, VA | September 16, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I kind of saw it as a "Shawn of the Dead" meets "Ghost" type thing. It sounds like a potentially lame plot, but will probably redeemed thanks to Gervais.

Posted by: Em | September 16, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

And when these kids get to college and they have to pay out instead of getting a payoff - where will they be. These programs satisfy the instant gratification tendencies of these kids - what's wrong with working hard for the bigger pay out in the end?

Come on. I am all for teaching kids to delay gratification, but you have to build some incentives into the system. We are talking about at risk kids. If the kids have absolutely no incentives at home to get good grades, the school should provide them. These are kids who probably don't have nintendos or Wiis, or who don't go to California Tortilla with their parents as a treat after soccer practice, or who don't get the extra little rewards that most kids get just because they were good that day. Expecting these kids to simply work hard with no rewards and just wait until they grow up for their reward is not reasonable. You have to create some incentives for them to work harder. And if cash works, then so be it.

Posted by: Emily | September 16, 2008 12:37 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse


The new (last?) season of the Ricky Gervais podcasts came out today on itunes.

Posted by: odessa steps magazine | September 16, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Why did Gervais do this movie?

He wants to establish himself as a movie actor in Hollywood. Right now, to the extent that the general American public knows him at all, they know him as the guy from the original Office and that HBO show nobody watched. A mildly craptastic Kinnear movie establishes him with the U.S. audience as an amusing British character actor, which will lead to more roles.

Personally, I'd rather see him do a full length film version of "When the Whistle Blows." Are you having a laugh? Is she having a laugh?

Posted by: Nick | September 16, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Not for the paying kids for learning. How about a program that shows kids exactly what they might get for those good grades? As in, here are tons of scholarships to colleges and universities that you can get if you get good grades. And then show them the jobs they can get with the college degree. Spend the money on mentors for the kids. Spend the money on more field trips to places outside these kids lives. As mentioned above, other types of incentives, such as trips, going to baseball games that type of stuff.

Cause if you started paying my kids for grades, I'd say: well you have a job now - and it's paying really well, here's your share of the expenses. Or they'd have to buy their own clothes or whatever. Which might teach them a lesson in and of itself (cause if they ask me to pay for grades, they will have to then kick in 'their share' of paying for stuff).

But, then again, I was well aware that getting good grades meant I would get to a better school, and have more opportunities. These children need to be shown that - EVERY WEEK. Or every day or whatever. That there is a very easy way to get out of the poverty they are in - and that is to get an education. Get more counselors in the schools, more programs for the kids, rather than writing a check. Writing a check is easy, doing something is hard

Posted by: atlmom | September 16, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Karl Pilkington!
Ahhh. Just the name makes me laugh.

Posted by: h3 | September 16, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

At least there aren't commercials for it on Animal Planet yet, although I do have to watch a zillion ads for some show about pet witnesses with this idiot woman saying, "It was a brutal murder" over and over.
And another thing, can we pul-eese get rid of Sarah Silverman on top of page! bleah!

Posted by: possum | September 16, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

You mean that's not Amy Winehouse?

Posted by: yipe! | September 16, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

This was one of the worst Celebritology columns I've ever seen. Why don't you see the movie before judging it? What a thought!

Posted by: SatchelPooch | September 16, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I've never seen The Office - saw the previews for this movie and wondered where they ever came up with this dull, doughy-faced British man in a lead role?

Posted by: Alison in TN | September 16, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

You mean that's not Amy Winehouse?

Posted by: yipe! | September 16, 2008 2:52 PM

Yipe, how could you think that was Amy Winehouse? The woman in the picture is obviously healthy, clean with good teeth.

Posted by: bingo | September 16, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

True dat, bingo. I got confused by the big hair.

Posted by: yipe! | September 16, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

this dull, doughy-faced British man

Just send Ricky Gervais to the Dancing with the Stars tanning booths for a weekly session.

Posted by: problem solved! | September 16, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

It's Gervais so yes, give him a pass! This is the stuff he needs to do to pay the bills so he can do all his other outrageous stuff that makes him so funny. Plus, I love Kinnear, too. I'll take him in his Sabrina tux any day!!!!

Posted by: gingy | September 16, 2008 10:52 PM | Report abuse

It is so funny~
Here is a club,**interracialchatting.com**it is a dating service for whites and blacks to find their interracial love.Hot and sexy,maybe you will like it.

Posted by: will | September 16, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

LIZ, PLEASE REMOVE SPAM AT 11:24 PM.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 17, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

The spam at 11:24 is funnier than anything Liz Kelly has written in months. Let's trash a movie we haven't seen yet. Ha Ha.

Posted by: It is so Funny | September 17, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand -- why are there posts about schools on here? Are they lost?

Posted by: Ame | September 17, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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