Jamie Kennedy's favorite movie review site
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Advertisement

Overall Rating
4.37

Awesome63.41%
Worth A Look: 24.39%
Just Average: 2.44%
Pretty Crappy: 4.88%
Sucks: 4.88%

10 reviews, 104 user ratings


Latest Reviews

I, Tonya by Rob Gonsalves

Wonder Wheel by Peter Sobczynski

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by Rob Gonsalves

Swindlers, The by Jay Seaver

Oro (Gold) by Jay Seaver

Disaster Artist, The by Peter Sobczynski

Explosion by Jay Seaver

Lucky (2017) by Rob Gonsalves

Breadwinner, The by Jay Seaver

Endless, The by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed


Ghost World
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Rob Gonsalves

"One of the great comic-book movies."
5 stars

Hollywood, in its ceaseless search for material to bend to its own will, has looked to comic strips and comic books practically since its infancy. Trouble is -- especially lately -- they look at the wrong comics.

While Sam Raimi's Spider-Man and Ang Lee's Hulk might be fun, most comic-book adaptations are closer to the ineptitude of Batman Forever than to the clear-eyed vision of Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. (Even Miller's own sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, is like an oafish P. Diddy remix of its predecessor.) Hollywood sees shallow heroism and the potential for hollow spectacle in superhero stories; anything featuring actual human beings doesn't appear on the radar.

The closest thing in Ghost World to an action sequence is a brief, fumbling scuffle between a nunchuck-wielding doofus and a scrawny record collector, and its source material -- Daniel Clowes' brilliant 1996-7 serial comic -- didn't even have that. Ghost World is the sort of "indie comic" few people besides serious comics readers have even heard of, and the movie version got similarly overlooked, when most of America was busy with Rush Hour 2 and Planet of the Apes. It centers on two teenage girls, Enid and Rebecca, right after high-school graduation; its subject is that awkward, often painful transitional period between high school and whatever else (college, job), and how friendships forged in adolescence sometimes don't survive the transition.

The movie, directed by Terry Zwigoff (who made 1995's amazing documentary Crumb) from a script he wrote with Clowes, doesn't focus as much on the Enid-Rebecca relationship as the comic did. Instead, they have fleshed out a character seen for only a few panels in the comic -- Seymour (Steve Buscemi), a lonely, acerbic blues collector (much like the director himself) -- and nudged the equally acerbic Enid (Thora Birch) into an odd and tentative friendship with him, while Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) grows up and apart from Enid, pursuing things like a job and an apartment half-heartedly, because it's what you do after graduation.

Enid worships kitsch and outmoded pop -- anything that isn't mass-produced and mass-embraced. Thora Birch's performance snaps into focus the moment Enid steps out of her bathroom and stops in her tracks upon hearing the dusty old blues number "Devil Got My Woman." This song, finally, is something for Enid to be passionate about -- the real thing. Birch is certainly amusing in her earlier, sneering moments, but it's nothing she and others haven't done before; but after Enid learns to appreciate that blues record as art and emotion, not as something to be ironically cherished because it's "so bad it's almost good," Birch deepens into something like maturity. Her scenes with Steve Buscemi -- whose Seymour, despite a couple of Buscemi-esque outbursts, is perhaps his gentlest and most honorable creation -- are so delicately written and played that we almost don't even miss Rebecca. (The deep-voiced Scarlett Johansson is fine as the rather dispassionate realist Rebecca, but the movie doesn't develop Rebecca in much detail; her drift towards "responsible adulthood" takes place mostly offscreen. There's a suggestion of a relationship between her and one of the girls' favorite stooges, a mild clerk played with Cusackian befuddlement by Brad Renfro, but the movie has eyes only for Enid and Seymour. I'd complain more about that if there were anything in Birch's and Buscemi's scenes to complain about.)

Ghost World is something of an ode to arrested development. It just about fetishes the womblike clutter of Enid's and Seymour's bedrooms, festooned with the sort of "cool things that only I like" decor that indicates few visits from outsiders. At the same time, its vision of the characters' universe -- a plasticized sprawl of mini-malls and convenience stores, a ghost of the individualized town it might once have been -- is fairly depressing. What to do in this ghost world? Buy into it like Rebecca (who displays an unhealthy respect for dull plastic cups and fold-out ironing boards), buy into it halfway like Seymour (who has a corporate job but nurtures his non-mainstream fixations), or reject it like Enid (whose response to Rebecca's request to act like a presentable, mature apartment-seeker is to dye her hair green)?

I can imagine Ghost World directed by John Waters and starring Christina Ricci as Enid -- it's exactly the kind of role she might've taken a few years ago -- but I doubt it would've had this mixture of hipster bemusement and postmodern melancholy. Much of the dialogue is verbatim from Clowes, who has an uncanny ear for how smart, sarcastic teenage girls talk, and Zwigoff brings his own acid to the table -- a lot of the movie works as snide commentary on video stores, megaplexes, art-school pretensions, or theme-period diners (the film's '50s-theme eatery Wowsville violates its own reality with raucous hip-hop oozing out of the jukeboxes). All of this from a comic book -- and not the usual comic book you see in theaters.

Clowes' "Ghost World" is a great short novel told in words and pictures; the movie he and Zwigoff have made from it is a great comedy-drama that doesn't look or feel remotely like a "comic-book movie." If more people appreciated stories like this, movies and comic books would be better off.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5482&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/25/06 13:19:15
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

1/20/14 Dane Youssef A really worthwhile film. It scores successfully in every aspect. It's extremely important. 5 stars
11/18/11 netra smith the movie is saying something about not giving into conformity in society 4 stars
7/03/09 hammerin hank Only an idiot would find this movie idiotic. Only a bore would find it boring. 5 stars
6/08/08 Jack Honest, real, hilarious and heartbreaking. BudLite-swilling Blueshammer fans won't get it. 5 stars
4/24/08 beau HAHA "oh my god he just ordered a giant glass of milk"...."uh thats a vanilla milkshake.." 4 stars
2/24/08 SamanthaP i thought this movie was so true to life, thora birch was great! 5 stars
2/11/08 mb Idiotic. Demeaning. Lacking in life. Left after 40 min. 1 stars
11/26/06 mili this movie amazed me, it just touched me in a certain way no movie had before. 5 stars
6/13/06 Hana all time fave, brilliant film! 5 stars
1/25/06 aimless One of the few films that gets better each time you watch it 5 stars
9/08/05 matt great film 5 stars
8/18/05 ES Wow, depressing and boring= this is the new rage hmmm 1 stars
8/05/05 Nate Frary I absolutely adore this movie. 5 stars
6/28/05 Queen Tantrum Absolutely AMAZING! 5 stars
6/09/05 Charlie Pointless, but quite entertaining! 4 stars
6/06/05 Alex St. John If you enjoy dark comedies this movie is definitely for you! 5 stars
3/31/05 failingloser i <3 it 5 stars
3/21/05 Candy I just really love this movie! Its cool and awsome! I love you steve! You have cool movies. 5 stars
9/08/04 Conor Crockford great 5 stars
7/05/04 James Kustes Watch Crumb and American Splendor as well 4 stars
6/25/04 Cynthia Hanna Impressive depiction of reality! 4 stars
5/21/04 Elena this movie is hilarious; not trying to be 'goth' or hip or clever really.it's just natural. 5 stars
4/16/04 A Reader "Jaan Pehechaan Ho" is reason enough to see it. Birch, Johansson, and Buscemi all shine. 5 stars
4/12/04 Jack Sommersby Not half as clever or hip as it purports to be. 2 stars
3/15/04 ToMaSsS! it was alrite 3 stars
2/28/04 jimmy two times great film 5 stars
1/23/04 Eraserhead I personally think this film sucks 1 stars
1/04/04 Ashley Definately my favorite movie! 5 stars
11/22/03 smartmusician Loved the movie 5 stars
9/26/03 Leah Heagy I loved it!!!!! 5 stars
5/23/03 Ryan F. These pseudo goth, antisocial "I just need to find myself" films grate my nerves big time. 2 stars
5/19/03 Britishlover I can totally connect with this film. Buscemi was excellent. 5 stars
5/15/03 Piz depressingly funny and an acting gem. Nice surprise 4 stars
4/10/03 Jack Bourbon One of the few movies I've seen to accurately portray what having friends is really like. 5 stars
4/06/03 Jack Sommersby Overpraised and underwhelming. Thin material not spruced up by attempts at eccentricity. 2 stars
3/31/03 Christopher Boatman What a teen movie should be. 5 stars
3/16/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" lyrik Funny, dramatic, perfectly acted/casted, brilliantly scripted, my kind of movie. 5 stars
1/26/03 Lord David one of my ultra-faves - totally funny & sad 5 stars
12/21/02 Pigwidgeon Achingly true. The Birch-Buscemi duet tore my heart out and stomped that sucker dead. 5 stars
12/14/02 Kyle One of the best movies I've seen... deserved a wider release. 5 stars
11/16/02 Mike was Here Thoughtful, touching, and ultimately very very sad, despite the optimistic ending. A+ 5 stars
11/15/02 Big Ted Thora Birch shoulda been nominated for the Oscar!! 5 stars
11/14/02 JackG One of last years best movies. It's not Hollywood, so therfor it's great. 5 stars
11/05/02 JesseL Thora Birch cannot act. This movie is a dork movie for dork people. 1 stars
10/25/02 Morally Sound Interesting and rebeliously funny movie. 4 stars
8/21/02 MaIniYaK BEST MOVIE 5 stars
8/01/02 chet like all independent films, boring and interesting simultaneously 4 stars
7/30/02 oska was expecting an 'independent' american movie, instead th usual formulaic rubbish 2 stars
7/25/02 Turtle Pretty boring and rarely funny...but it has its moments. 3 stars
7/14/02 Chuck Bittersweet, touching, sad and funny. Wow, what a film! 5 stars
7/10/02 Kristen hilarious 3 stars
7/10/02 willy.gk an affectionate, haunting film. will linger in your head for days 5 stars
5/12/02 Amy Takes a shot and misses 3 stars
5/10/02 Keith good in a "getting-in-touch-with-my-inner-troubled-teen-girl" sort of way 4 stars
4/28/02 Malcolm Masiero If you think this movie sucks, then you just don't understand 5 stars
4/21/02 Akira_773 Very good, despite falling into the same trap all movies like this do 4 stars
4/17/02 Film Dude No Andrew, this IS NOT A BLACK FUCKING COMEDY. YOU'RE A FUCKING DUMBASS. GO TO HELL! 5 stars
4/03/02 lauren mccreight trys to be cynical.....comes off whinny. 2 stars
4/01/02 Monday Morning A waste of time 2 stars
3/30/02 Reini Urban Very cute 4 stars
3/21/02 Mike Perfect for post-high school teens. Thoughtful, realistic, and complicated. No easy answers 5 stars
3/01/02 Butterbean I could relate to Enid to a point. Buscemi was great. Overall, a nice "artsy" movie. 4 stars
2/17/02 Kyle Brilliant. Not at all what I expected- definitely NOT another teen movie. 5 stars
2/16/02 Andrew Carden Well-Done Black Comedy. Some Imagintive Lines and Great Performances. 5 stars
2/16/02 John Lyons What a waste of time! The whole movie was pointless. 1 stars
2/10/02 Michael Grimm slow, little character development, total letdown 2 stars
2/10/02 Spyguy2 Wow, what a gem! I went out and bought it on dvd the next day. Brilliant! 5 stars
2/10/02 Joe This movie really tried my patience. I kept waiting for something significant to happen. 1 stars
2/08/02 A.K. Funny and touching. For once, a real movie about teenagers 5 stars
2/04/02 Nonnon Fabulous. 5 stars
1/18/02 Rego Allegro Great movie - American Independant Cinema at its best and an amazing Steve Buscemi 5 stars
1/14/02 Carly There's material here to make a 5 star movie, but Enid just pissed me off so much. 1 stars
12/30/01 Nicole Enid's my hero... and Seymour's the man I long to meet... 5 stars
12/27/01 Albert Yu Looking for Alex Hirsch!!! EIMer@ Alex I am trying to track your ass down!! email me albertucsb@yahoo.com 5 stars
11/25/01 Tam Excellent characterisation & a witty script. The ending avoided cliche. 5 stars
10/22/01 puckfreak Totally overrated if that's possible...maybe because I'm not a teenage girl? 2 stars
10/10/01 masin wolliams in the last 32 years I've seen close to 100k movies, this is in my top 5. I was blown away. 5 stars
9/29/01 Ben VanDuyvendyk A better transition than could've been hoped for, great movie if you like satirical wit, 5 stars
9/26/01 amir pakdel it was amazing to me 4 stars
9/25/01 Maple Syrup It somehow uses it's sardonic wit and cynical world view to make you feel all gooey inside. 5 stars
9/17/01 Thor-Leo Not the usual Hollywood fare but not the masterpiece that some say it is 4 stars
9/16/01 Alex Hirsch SEE THIS MOVIE 5 stars
9/16/01 Jerry R. Colvin My favorite movie of 2001 5 stars
9/13/01 chloe perfection 5 stars
9/12/01 Lachlan L. A fantastically put together collection of social satire/commentary. Beautiful, sad, insane 5 stars
9/09/01 Professor Matrix I can relate. Low art and high weirdness. Instead of the bus, I hitch hiked. 5 stars
9/08/01 Wilbot Characterization very good. Birch & Buscemi excellent. Rather sad. Ridiculous ending. 4 stars
9/03/01 daniel scarlett johannson is beautiful....check out the ghost world website, it's really well done 5 stars
9/03/01 Chris Harris I think it appeals to a minority. If you happen to be in that minorty it speaks volumes. 5 stars
9/03/01 JUSTIN G T.B. IS BEAUTIFUL IN A BEAUTIFUL MOVIE!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/01/01 JB Great movie. Everthing is nice. It really flows. Buscemi! 5 stars
9/01/01 The D bittersweet 5 stars
8/30/01 Patrick David Barber heartbreakingly beautiful. see it a lot 5 stars
8/27/01 C. MOORE Mise en scene ooks like Clowes's illustrations. 5 stars
8/27/01 edmurder i was the target audience for this movie. 5 stars
8/27/01 Elizabeth super-sarcastic and funny, yet touching 5 stars
8/26/01 hankmekon brilliant insight with an overcast of alienation 5 stars
8/25/01 frank best movie of the summer 5 stars
8/20/01 B Horner A teenage film that was not made just for teenagers. Perfectly cast; go see it! 5 stars
8/13/01 Ryan Jones Bad. Just really really bad. 1 stars
8/06/01 Raiven Very funny, insightful, sexy and emotionally affecting. I totally loved it, and Thora! 5 stars
8/03/01 Kimble superkewl 5 stars
7/27/01 cody a hilarious comedy 5 stars
7/26/01 Heather An offbeat movie full of oddballs, misfits, teen angst, lack of identity etc., good acting 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:


Discuss this movie in our forum

USA
  03-Aug-2001 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  27-Jun-2002




Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Privacy Policy | | HBS Inc. |   
All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast