Ghost World (2001) / Comedy-Drama
MPAA Rated: R for strong language and some sexual content
Running Time: 111 min.
Cast: Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi, Brad Renfro, Illeana Douglas
Director: Terry Zwigoff
Screenplay: Terry Zwigoff, Daniel Clowes (based on his comic book)
Review published January 20, 2002
Five years after giving us the quirky Crumb, director Terry Zwigoff (Bad Santa, Art School Confidential) delivers another batch of off-beat goodness in Ghost World. The film is based on the small press comic book of the same name by Daniel Clowes, who co-writes the screen adaptation along with Zwigoff to great success. Like the comics of its ilk, the film never seems to be going much of anywhere or doing anything, but by the end of the film we understand why.
Enid (Birch, Dungeons & Dragons) and Becky (Johansson, The Man Who Wasn't There) are the geek-girls of their graduating class, the kind of girls that rejected society and everything popular right after they were rejected by the same. Enid is the most bizarre of the two, but has a hard time coping with having to change the life she has made for herself. Change comes to her in the form of Becky moving away to college, a father that is going to bring in a new mother to the home, and the rest of the world she knows no longer seeming the same. This square peg now has to find a new round hole to not fit in, and she doesn't know how to adapt to it.
While Ghost World may not be a substantial film in plot, it more than makes up for it with odd characters and witty observations on all things banal. This is a film by geeks about geeks for geeks. Perhaps only true geeks will actually appreciate the film's fullest entertainment value, but there's enough goodness for the rest of you non-geeks to be entertained if you enjoy good acting and a unique story. Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi (Double Whammy) are a joy to watch in their respective roles as "love interests", and fresh writing and directing give keeps the right tone throughout. If you like your films with twisted intelligence, Ghost World gets a solid recommendation.
©2002 Vince Leo