Ghost

Ghost. Paramount Pictures 1990.

Before watching the movie:

For a long time this film has been on my list of important movies to watch, but I’ve never really given it very close examination. In fact, the most I learned about it was one occasion when I had an idea for a story, and then decided to check how much like Ghost it was. I ended up deciding it was close enough to wait on it.

In preparing for this blog, it seems that it’s actually more of a supernatural love story than I wanted, but if it turns out to be so, hopefully Whoopi Goldberg’s presence will make it bearable.

During/after watching the movie:

Sam Wheat just moved in with his girlfriend Molly when he is shot and killed in a mugging, and finds he is now a ghost. After some time coming to understand this turn of events, he discovers that his death wasn’t just an ordinary mugging, and the people who wanted him dead have no problem endangering Molly. This will not stand, and Sam enlists the reluctant help of the one person who can hear him: fraud psychic Oda Mae Brown.  But even with her help, skepticism is very difficult to overcome, and two lives and four million dollars, are at stake.

At first, I was going to comment on some gratuitous shirtlessness from Swayze, but it’s relatively brief, considering that after he dies he’s stuck in the same outfit for the rest of the movie. After some opening beefcake and the most famous love scene in modern cinema, the film gets down to business. Swayze has a full range to play, and often is alone when he does it. He performs admirably, but I’m not sure if I was annoyed by Demi Moore’s grieving or the fact that the story doesn’t give her much more to do. Probably the latter. Whoopi Goldberg is as funny as one would expect, and at times, too over the top. Usually, though, she knows when to tone it down.

It’s unusual for an award-baiting film to have remarkable visual effects, though by today’s standards it’s not all that remarkable. Actors pass through things all the time these days, but few show a first-person perspective of walking through a wall. While I may not agree with the way they chose to portray it, I have to commend the filmmakers for not only using every effects shot they needed, but going for extra credit.

Once again, a film selling itself as a straight romance delivered more than I expected. It’s even better than LA Story in the fact that I can approve of the love story itself. As one who is not a fan of romances, I enjoyed Ghost as a fantastic adventure with a solid relationship to anchor it.

Watch this movie: and feel the deep frustration of an impotent observer.

Don’t watch this movie: if you haven’t mastered poltergeistery yet. Because playing a DVD is a complicated action.

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