Ghost (1990)
Directed by Jerry Zucker

Artistic Value: * * ½
Entertainment Value: * * *

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After Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) is murdered in a botched mugging, he returns as a ghost and discovers that he can communicate with a previously fraudulent medium, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg). He then has that woman contact his former partner, Molly (Demi Moore), so that he can tell her about the man who killed him. Although Molly concludes that Oda Mae is trying to deceive her, Sam refuses to give up, especially after he learns that his colleague and supposed friend, Carl (Tony Goldwyn), is involved in money laundering and is responsible for his murder.

Jerry Zucker's Ghost may never be especially memorable, but it is a pleasant and sometimes funny film.


Sadly, the director has burdened his movie with countless tiresome clichés. Sam is a stereotypical wealthy corporate executive, while Molly, like countless other Hollywood heroines, is a commercially successful artist. Carl is, of course, a bad, traitorous, conniving executive who betrays his friends and has dealings with drug lords, and his accomplice is a dirty, ugly, brutal poor person. Even Oda Mae resembles innumerable other eccentric black women who have appeared in film.

The events that occur to these persons are, for the most part, no more imaginatively realized than they are. Sam and Molly's syrupy romance is, frankly, forced and artificial. The former's unraveling of the mysteries surrounding his murder is presented in a painfully prosaic way, and the action sequences which ensue from his investigation are completely hackneyed.


Fortunately, the numerous comic moments that are scattered throughout the movie keep it enjoyable. Oda Mae's irritation at being bothered by various ghosts after she develops the ability to communicate with the dead, her awkward visit to Sam's bank while pretending to be another person, and the difficulty she has in getting rid of a multi-million dollar check are all funny. I was never awed by anything in the movie, but I did, thanks to such moments, laugh several times.

Lastly, I should mention that the actors' performances are not consistent in quality. Swayze is, as always, horribly wooden, and Moore, while not inept, is largely forgettable. Whoopi Goldberg's portrayal of the crooked, often exasperated Oda Mae is, however, wonderfully exaggerated and frequently hilarious. The scenes in which she appears are, consequently, the best in the movie.


Whatever its weaknesses, Ghost is an entertaining film. It may never rise above the ordinary, but watching it would not be an unpleasant way to spend a quiet afternoon.

Review by Keith Allen

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