By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Continuing my trend of watching late 80s/early 90s cultural touchstone movies everybody but me has apparently seen, I recently watched Ghost. This one I pretty much expected to hate, what with all the ghost Swayzes and Whoopis and pageboy haircuts and Walmart bargain bin romance novel-caliber shirtless pottery making seshes.
Well, now you ruined my two favorite things: fine literature and Nascar racin’
I’m not sure if it’s possible to write a synopsis of this without getting spoiler-y, if somehow you don’t know that Swayze dies and comes back as a Ga-ga-ga-ghost. Oops. Anyway, he has unfinished business with his lovely girlfriend, the Demi Moore that probably got 12 year old Ashton Kutcher all confused and tingly. He contacts a shyster medium, played by Whoopi Goldberg, to help him contact his gal Friday and protect her from the scheme that cost him his life and could end up costing her hers.
To my considerable surprise, I actually quite liked this movie. Even beyond reaons like Swayze’s mugger reminding me of bizarro Jamie Foxx.
Or the fact that the heavenly beam of light that collects good souls in the film looks exactly like the beam of light that Mr. Bean falls to Earth from in the intro to his TV show. What are the implications of that?
Behold, the visage of Antichrist
First off, since you already know Swayze’s gonna bite it, but may not know how, it’s great fun anticipating it happening, and Director Jerry Zucker clearly knows this, having Swayze do things like leap out of windows, flipping the bird at fate. Once he does slough off his mortal coil, Ghost becomes really interesting as we learn its unique rules. I especially enjoyed Vincent Schiavelli’s batshit subway ghost, who teaches Swayze to manipulate solid objects with his ghost powers.
The elements most people would cite for the film also work well. Moore and Swayze have dynamite chemistry, as does the whole cast, really. It’s easy believing in their romance, and buying the stakes. And yeah, that pottery scene is pretty sexy. Also, Whoopi Goldberg’s comic relief is effective even if it’s the same sassy schtick as always. I also appreciated how they set up the sequel by having Whoopi give that check to a Catholic convent.
It explains why the nuns would put up with her so long.
Let’s be honest.
Or, if you prefer.
Some people may ding it even further for it’s cheesy/corny elements, but they didn’t bother me that much. However, you may want a beer on hand when Whoopi starts to overwhoopi and you begin to wonder how she doesn’t screw up her and Ghost Swayze’s plan about ten times over.
It’s easy to see why this one became a cultural touchstone of the 90s. It’s a surprisingly enjoyable, surprisingly funny flick that you should enjoy even if you’re not in its target demo.
Take a Drink: anytime Whoopi sasses somebody
Take a Drink: every time you see something that’s gloriously dated
Take a Drink: every time Swayze passes through something or vice-versa
Do a Shot: “Ditto”