|While Ghost World won’t appeal to every member of the audience with its other worldly representation of American teenage life, superb performances and a witty script keep the few slowdowns in the film running. Though the movie gets off to a less than speedy start, the groove it soon settles into is one that includes a lot of humor and irony that will probably entertain most audiences. But not all. Because the film certainly is an independent venture in every sense of the word. From the costumes to the music, Ghost World offers its viewers a very different take on the lives of two teenage girls that easily sticks in one’s mind long after the credits have rolled.|
Perhaps the one real mistake in the film is the slow beginning. While the first two scenes or so set up the relationship between best friends, "Enid Coleslaw" and "Rebecca Doppelmeyer," (played by Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson, respectively), there exists a few more scenes that introduce them further to the audience that are probably unneeded. The dialogue of those scenes probably could have been inserted into later scenes where actual plot development occurs, making the character development and the story proceed side by side.
But this flaw is a mistake soon forgotten as Enid and Rebecca become two very endearing characters with a lot of humor between them for the outside world. As recently two desolate recent graduates from high school, neither has a very positive outlook on the world. They decide that they need to get jobs and move into an apartment together (to escape their strange families), but become waylaid when Enid meets a strange vintage record salesman named “Seymour,” played with his usual exuberance by Steve Buscemi. Enid and Seymour certainly make one of the oddest couples in cinematic history and the dialogue between them is one of the high points.
While "strange" is a word that can be applied to so many parts of the film, “entertaining” is just as valid a word. The set decoration, art direction, and costumes all seem to have been created with a lot of planning in mind and the production is better for it. While it is obvious the film was made with a lower budget than mainstream films tend to use, the movie still is able to compete on a technical level with anything the Hollywood machine is able to pump out. Excepting big-budget computer generated spectaculars perhaps. But Ghost World’s value is in other areas such as character development and dialogue. Which are the best accomplishments this film has to offer.
Running like a two hour commentary on teenage life in America, the film brings into focus the greedy, capitalistic society present in today’s youth. The strange thing is that many of the film’s locations look as though they were plucked out of a film from the 1970’s. Perhaps because of the material it was based on (a comic book), the filmmakers were able to start production on the film with a fully created world in front of them already on paper and therefore were able to make the actual world of the film that much more interesting.
So weird it’s interesting, Ghost World just might pick up potential audience members who don’t regularly engage in independent theatrical viewing. Though it can be denied that the running time could have been shorter through some more vigorous editing, the film as a whole is still an entertaining one. More so than any other "teen" film that has been produced in at least a decade. Foregoing the usual trappings of that bubbly genre, the creators of Ghost World have made a darker, more interesting film with humor more suited to audiences not solely in the teenage demographic. Owing success as well to some mature performances from its young lead stars, this film is a prime example of what films featuring young actors can accomplish when intelligence rather than vulgarity is introduced into a screenplay.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.