Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Ghost in the Bank Account

As long as I've just finished Ghost Protocol... Funny how some of the blockbusters of the past seem clunky today.  One can't help but wonder to themselves: how on Earth was this such a monster hit?  I had that feeling with 1989's Batman, but you could go farther with British sets back then.  And so, we've got 1990's Ghost, perhaps the only blockbuster to center around a studio apartment.  We've got Whoopi Goldberg as a psychic medium, arguably the only enduring star from the movie.  We've got Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore as the couple engaging in all the pleasures of the flesh that PG-13 and the brink of impending marriage will allow.  Well, Steve Winwood enjoyed a brief stint in the 80s as a spokesman for lust, so anything's possible.  Swayze plays a fine spokesman here for the Guy Philosophy: dragging his feet when it comes to marriage and saying "Ditto" instead of that old cliché "I love you."  Guys always have to put their own spin on that one, don't they?  Tony Goldwyn plays a fine usurper to Swayze's throne whose chest is almost as chiseled, but clearly lacking in the raw animal magnetism that Swayze possesses.
Then of course we've got Demi Moore in what may be her last serious role.  Is she a Scientologist, or does it just seem like she is?  Roland Joffé must've really been impressed with the cast of this one, because Swayze was in his City of Joy (1992), and Demi in his The Scarlet Letter (1995).  Alas, Joffé's box office performance of those two didn't add up somehow compared to Ghost.  The unlikeliness continues with director Jerry Zucker.  Yes, of Airplane! fame.  He's the only one of the threesome that was able to move on to different genres other than Mad! Magazine, apparently.  If you recall, they poked fun at the clay scene in Naked Gun 2.  It's what we call an in-joke.  There's at least one choice of technician that proved correct: in lieu of Dean Cundey on camera, we've got Adam Greenberg who would go on to do Terminator 2.  Need more be said?  Egg-zactly.  There's at least one homage to Ghost in T2, where the T-1000 grabs onto a rail and starts absorbing the color scheme of said rail.  This was edited out of the theatrical version of the film, but they certainly made you think of it.  Was I the only one?  The T2's walking towards this rail... is he going to walk through it?  Or maybe try out its stripes?  In the director's cut, he tries out the stripes, but gets freaked out by it and quickly lets go.  Gotta love that.
One unusual aspect about the movie is that it wasn't filmed at all in Canada!  An almost totally New York movie.  A rare accomplishment; they must've filmed it just on weekends.  Also disappointing because Whoopi has to keep it PG-13 when yelling at construction crew people working near Demi Moore's apartment.  As any New Yorker will tell you, it's inauthentic.
To continue with the theme of 'unusual,' I'll dwell briefly on screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin.  Let me put it this way: my friend wanted to watch Ghost, and so I went over Rubin's credits on IMDb.  I read one after the other out loud and he said "Crap, crap, crap..."  Well, one out of ten ain't bad, especially if the one is Ghost.  I guess I should probably mention the plot.  These days we're awash in movies about ghosts and mediums... take Ghost Town, for example.  Surely this was a novelty back in the day in 1990.  In a way, it still is.  Not many ghosts seem to have once been involved in the sultry New York banking scene and lived to tell the living about it.  Swayze plays such a man who gets lost in between worlds, stuck with that same damn purple shirt.  He gets to see two of his fellow ghosts eaten up by the shadow people, whereas he ascends with the light spheres and joins a rainbow coalition of ghosts at the end.  I hate to backseat drive any more than I already have, but personally I would've ended with a double fade-out: have the rainbow of ghosts fade out, again showing the apartment where it happened, then fading to black from there.  Again, this is why I'm a mere critic.  It's just not blockbuster thinking!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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