I've always thought Ricky Gervais was a little over rated. I didn't think he could really carry an entire movie. Ghost Town changed my mind about him and made me appreciate his talent. Ghost town was written by David Koepp, the guy who ruins every major blockbuster franchise but somehow always seems to get the next job. And not only did he write this, but he directed it as well. Koepp gets right to work setting up a predicament for his main character Bertrum Pincas (Gervais). It's a predicament that lends it's self to both comedy and drama and the script is smart enough to let the comedy ooze up through the drama taking advantage of context. I have learned that really funny comedies like this one have terrible trailers because without knowing the context, nothing is funny on the surface. Not once did I get to a joke and say "oh yeah that was funny in the trailer". Gervais creates comedy in the most subtle of mannerisms, you want to watch him for fear you'll miss something. He is best playing the strait man to the whacky events around him but his vulnerability and restraint were what make his performance really work. My one complaint is that Greg Kinear, (who I love), is underused here. His character arc is a bit vague for 90 minutes of the film. In fact I'm still not sure if I was supposed to like his character or not.
I wouldn't say this film is a love story, although there are elements of that here. The romantic tension that goes on between two of the characters is pretty strong. Even when I thought I knew what Koepp was doing with each scene, I fell for each trap he set. Being one step ahead of the audience is crucial for a morality tale which is really what this film is. I think the minute that the audience senses a preachy agenda, they check out. For example, the name Ghost Town.... it's a dumb name and it undersells the movie, but I understand why it was chosen. It's an attempt to keep audience from sniffing out something of more importance. This way, when they discover something of more spiritual significance, they feel it wasn't forced on them.