What do you expect him to do for the rest of his life? Stay in bed? Work in a shop? Present 'This Morning'? Actually, that would be amazing. Some say that Ricky Gervais will never again hit the highs of Messrs Brent and Millman, but Orson Welles did 'Touch of Evil' after 'Citizen Kane', John Cleese did 'A Fish Called Wanda' after 'Fawlty Towers' and Dastardly and Muttley followed 'The Wacky Races' with 'Stop the Pigeon'. As 'Ghost Town' shows, there's hope for us all. Even Bertam Pincus.
Pincus (Gervais) is an English dentist working in Manhattan, and if Pincus had a flatmate it would be Melvin Udall from 'As Good As It Gets'. He avoids life and meaningful interaction like most people avoid a trip to his office, hates himself and is oblivious to everything but the dental needs of those around him.
That all changes, however, when Pincus goes into hospital for a colonoscopy. Insisting on a general anaesthetic, he dies for seven minutes before being brought back to life with a new gift: he can now see the dead. Pursued everywhere by them with requests to contact the living, he reluctantly agrees to help Frank (Kinnear), who thinks his widow Gwen (Leoni) is going to marry the wrong guy. But how will Frank feel if the man with limitless people skills ends up falling for her too?
While 'Ghost Town' may not make the '100 Comedies You Must See Before You Die' list, there are far better laughs here than you'll get from the majority of what's onscreen - small or big. Working with someone else's script (director Koepp and co-writer John Kamps), it shows once again what a comic genius Gervais is. His sense of timing and physicality as he delivers a line are incredible, and there are moments - his first conversation with Leoni's character, dinner at her apartment - that warrant repeated viewing.
The disappointment is that, like life itself, you may feel that it goes by all too quickly. Having got a great premise and cast, Koepp and Kamps fail to polish things to perfection. Aspects which could have brought much to the story - more about why Pincus is the way he is, a less hurried pace in the second half, - are neglected and while you won't forget the laughs, you won't forget the faults, either.
Aside from its message, the most encouraging thing about 'Ghost Town' is that there are instances here which show that Gervais should turn his talents to serious drama and see where it leads. There is even more to him than even his most by rote fans may give him credit for, and perhaps for him like the rest of us the best is yet to come.