Ghost World movie poster
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Ghost World movie poster

Ghost World Movie Review

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Ghost World is one of those gems that no one hears about until it starts showing up on critics' Top Ten lists across the country. It's one of those movies that doesn't have widespread appeal but is so well done that it is hard not to enjoy it. It is, it turns out, one of the better films of 2001.

Based on the quirky comic book, Ghost World is a quirky comedy drama about a girl (Thora Birch) who just isn't happy being normal, but also begins to realize that she isn't happy being odd, either. Her best friend (Scarlett Johansson) agrees with her in every respect, until they graduate from high school and she begins working, and begins to "normalize." The girl also meets a much older guy (Steve Buscemi) who is also quite odd, and things go from there.

On the surface, Ghost World doesn't have much to offer. Is it a love story? Not really. Is it a drama? Not really. Is it a comedy? Yes, but a pretty deep one. The plot, in most respects, is plain, yet the movie isn't. It goes from one scene to the next, not necessarily randomly but with some vague linkage in mind, piecing together to funny and serious moments and forming quite a good movie. Looking back on the movie, I'm not quite sure what Ghost World is about exactly, but I know I enjoyed it.

I already used the word "quirky," but that is what best describes the comical aspects of Ghost World. It has many laugh-out-loud parts, some of which are seemingly random, some of which are just amusing little one-liners, and most are just plain blunt. Ghost World doesn't shy away from what it shouldn't do and just does it, and it works perfectly.

To pull off a comedy like this, one needs good, matter-of-fact acting. Thora Birch does this wonderfully, in a way borrowing some character traits from her co-star Wes Bentley's traits in American Beauty (isn't it interesting that both Birch and Bentley, after coming off a success like Beauty, have decided to stay off the beaten path, while their third co-star Mena Suvari, has chosen teen comedies and failed miserably?). She's odd but refreshingly to-the-point. And how can you have a weird little movie like this without Steve Buscemi? One of my favorite actors, Buscemi finds his God-given role as the depressed yet hopeful record-collector. He's very entertaining to watch in every scene.

Ghost World does drag on in the end just a little bit, and loses some of its comedic flare, but it is a quality film from beginning to end.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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