| We all share a fascination with what happens after death. Writer-director David Koepp (“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”) suggests our ghosts hover over the living with unfinished business. This supernatural romantic comedy is the sleeper hit of the fall. It will touch your heart and tickle your funny bone at the same time. It blends elements from “The Sixth Sense,” “Ghost,” “Heaven Can Wait,” “Annie Hall” and “Hitch” into an entertaining cinematic soufflé.
British comedian Ricky Gervais (“The Office” and HBO’s “Extras”) plays Dr. Bertram Pincus, a dentist who detests people. He hates small talk and enjoys stuffing his clients’ mouths with cotton or metal implements just to shut them up.He goes in for a colonoscopy and requests general anesthesia. Something goes wrong during this routine procedure and he dies for seven minutes. This sets up the premise that allows him to see dead people.
The movie opens with the Beatles song “I’m Looking Through You” and starts the ongoing gag about sneezing whenever a human being passes through a ghostly presence.A tuxedo-clad Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear), who suffered an unexpected death, promises to stop the noisy, pushy and demanding bunch of ghosts from hounding Pincus in exchange for a favor. He wants Pincus to put a monkey wrench in the marriage plans of his widow, Gwen (Téa Leoni). Pincus has an epiphany when he meets this lovely dreamboat. He falls head over heels in love with her. Frank gives Pincus coaching tips on Gwen’s likes and dislikes.
Gervais shows off his comedic talents and curries the favor of the audience by making a complete transition from obnoxious, cold and selfish to a caring and compassionate individual willing to help others. Leoni is terrific and will melt your heart every time she appears on screen. Kinnear nails his role as a charming and likable cad with recognizable human flaws.Some familiar postcard sights of Manhattan are showcased in the background.
The movie points out that the first impression of another person is not always an accurate gauge. There are also uplifting and positive messages about doing good deeds for others and making the world a better place. You leave the theater on a high note with the satisfaction derived from a happy ending.
Keith Cohen, "The Movie Guy"