Ghost is one of those few films that tries to span multiple genres and does so with surprising success. It’s a sensual romance, a supernatural comedy, and a nerve-racking thriller all in one, with some touches of horror thrown in for good measure. The film has special meaning for my family, since its main theme “Unchained Melody” was my parents’ song while dating (you know, “their” song) and the first dance at their wedding reception. Acting as a star vehicle for all three of its headliners, Ghost gained Whoopi Goldberg her lone Oscar win and gave Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore arguably their most popular roles.
To be honest, Goldberg really makes the film. The romance and thriller aspects would probably have been enough to gain it some Oscar nominations and the associated notoriety, but her comedic presence is so spot-on that every one of her scenes makes Ghost that much better. Her awkward reactions to Sam’s invisible voice and his musical method of coercing her (however reluctantly) are simply hilarious, yet they somehow fit in with the otherwise serious film.
Directed by Jerry Zucker of Airplane! fame, Ghost goes back and forth—though not often enough—between Sam’s perspective (with him fully visible) and that of everyone else, who only see Oda Mae arguing with herself. This also allows for a tender reunion scene with Sam and Molly that would look pretty weird from the other perspective. The special effects, including Sam’s intangibility and the glimpses of heaven and hell, are admittedly dated by today’s standards, but they serve the story well enough to not be distracting.
On the down side, the famous potter’s wheel scene gets a little overly explicit, foul mouths abound, and Tony Goldwyn’s death scene is like something out of Final Destination. Aside from the characters speaking of marriage like it’s some radical idea, the film also presents a clearly Hollywood-inspired version of heaven. Not to be judgmental, but Sam doesn’t seem particularly deserving of heaven; in fact, the only thing that seems to warrant hell is intent to kill. No mention is made of God either. It’s not that ghost movies necessarily need clear references to the Lord, but for one that shows an obvious vision of the pearly gates, something is definitely lacking.
Despite these quibbles, Ghost excels in all three of its chosen genres and inverts horror conventions by making the vengeful spirit the protagonist. While not necessarily the best film of 1990, Ghost remains an entertaining and hopelessly romantic foray into the supernatural. Can I get a “Ditto”?
Best line: (Oda Mae Brown, while yelling up at Molly’s apartment) “I’m not gonna stand out here forever!” (a workman, higher up) “Thank God!”Artistry: 9 Characters/Actors: 9 Entertainment: 9 Visual Effects: 7 Originality: 9 Watchability: 9 Other (successful genre fusion): +2 Other (language, violence, sex): -4 TOTAL: 50 out of 60
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© 2014 S. G. Liput
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