Watching Ghost again, 17 years after its release, it holds up surprisingly well. Or at least, it holds up as well as it did when it was originally released. There's a goodly amount of cheese on display here, but a surprising degree of restraint too. And that's down-right shocking: The director was Jerry Zucker, of Airplane! and Naked Gun fame. Ghost remains one of the few "serious" movies he's ever been involved with.
If you're unfamiliar with the setup, it's simple yet silly. Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) is moving on up with his girlfriend Molly (Demi Moore, sporting short locks). They're obviously in love -- as evidenced by a mega-classic scene with the duo holding hands over the wet clay on a pottery wheel while "Unchained Melody" plays on their home jukebox -- though Sam can't say the words. "Ditto" is the most affection he can offer.
Suddenly, Sam is shot in a mugging and soon finds himself a ghost among the living. And then the intrigue begins: That mugger is snooping around Sam and Molly's apartment, and soon we discover he's in the employ of Carl (Tony Goldwyn), allegedly their best friend. Millions of dollars are involved, of course. But Sam can't communicate with the living. He's a silent observer in all of this... until one day he encounters medium Oda Mae (Goldberg), who uses her patented in-yo-face schtick to bring both comic relief and messages from the beyond.
If you can get past the special effects, atrocious by today's standards, the film's depiction of how depressing it must be to be a ghost is actually quite touching and original. Sam undergoes a sort of ghost training (courtesy of the inimitable Vincent Schiavelli) on how to move objects in the real world, and his scenes with both Oda Mae and Molly are fun: Molly is a skeptic of course, but eventually she'll come around. ("Molly... you in danger, girl!")
Bruce Rubin's script tries its hardest to avoid cheese, but it can't help but step in it once or twice, but it's no worse than another film that bears a striking resemblance to Ghost: Titanic. In many ways, Ghost's simplicity makes it a better film, but it's no real shock that it hasn't held up quite as well.
Ghost's success spawned a mini-genre of love-from-beyond movies: Just Like Heaven is the most recent entry into the routine. And they just don't measure up to the original, do they?
A new DVD includes several making-of featurettes and a commentary from Zucker and Rubin.
Run time: 127 mins
In Theaters: Friday 13th July 1990
Box Office Worldwide: $505M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Fresh: 48 Rotten: 17
IMDB: 7.0 / 10
Director: Jerry Zucker
Producer: Lisa Weinstein
Screenwriter: Bruce Joel Rubin
Starring: Patrick Swayze as Sam Wheat, Demi Moore as Molly Jensen, Tony Goldwyn as Carl Bruner, Whoopi Goldberg as Oda Mae Brown, Vincent Schiavelli as Subway Ghost, Vivian Bonnell as Ortisha, Armelia McQueen as Oda Mae's Sister, Gail Boggs as Oda Mae's Sister, Stephen Root as Police Sgt., Angelina Estrada as Rosa Santiago, Augie Blunt as Orlando, Derek Thompson as Ortisha's Friend, Rick Aviles as Willie Lopez, Phil Leeds as Emergency Room Ghost, Alma Beltran as Woman Ghost
Also starring: Bruce Joel Rubin
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