Ghost World

Release Date: February 5, 2002
Run Time: approximately 111 minutes
Ten-second Rundown: Enid and Rebecca struggle to find their future after graduating high-school, in a world neither one particularly likes.

  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes
  • Making of Ghost World featurette
  • Music video from Gumnaam, "Jaan Pehechaan Ho"
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Choice Scene: The shirtless (and sunburned) Doug practicing his nunchucks in the parking lot of the convenience store. Trust us on this one.

    Tech Specs: Anamorphic Widescreen (Aspect Ratio 1.85:1), English 5.1 Surround, English, French, and Spanish Subtitles.

    One of the best comic book to film adaptations ever will probably sneak by most people's perceptions as such. That's because writer/artist Daniel Clowes doesn't use spandex-clad heroes as his characters; instead, he writes about extraordinary ordinary people who are much like you or me. Uncomfortably so.

    When filmmaker Terry Zwigoff wanted to follow up his critically acclaimed documentary Crumb with an actual feature, his wife recommended this "underground" comic called Ghost World by Clowes. Together Clowes and Zwigoff worked out a screenplay (nominated for an Academy Award just this morning) that more than captured the spirit of Clowes' work; it brought it to cinematic life.

    Ghost World the movie follows Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) in the weeks following their high school graduation. Friends forever, they had planned to get an apartment and start their thrilling lives as adults. But life doesn't quite work out that way, especially when Enid has a difficult time figuring out what adulthood is supposed to mean. What part of childhood should she throw away?

    To make matters worse, Enid has a firm grasp on what she doesn't like (almost everything), but cannot find anything she does like. She and Rebecca spend a lot of time mocking the town around them, until they encounter Seymour (Steve Buscemi), a middle-aged 78 record aficionado who still has a difficult time fitting into society.

    At first the girls mock him from a distance, but Enid's fascination grows until they become friends. The two bond over their refusal to fit, while Rebecca adjusts to adulthood easily.

    It's about more than that, as the "Ghost World" of the title isn't supernatural at all, but possibly just our fading pasts. The film is full of quirky characters and touches that may be laughable, but are all too real and all too lost.

    For the DVD release, Zwigoff has elected not to do the de rigeur commentary. Instead, he limits his participation to a featurette which sheds just enough light on the production to be interesting. All the major castmembers participate as well, but this is one of those films that really should speak for itself (and does).

    As a result, the extras are sparse. But what there are really add to the experience.

    The film opens with a delirious snippet from a '60's Indian film (strangely enough, a Bollywood slasher film adaptation of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians -- which may not be readily apparent from the picture at left), and so the DVD offers the entire number, "Jaan Pehechaan Ho." I really wish I understood the lyrics, but maybe it doesn't matter. It's just somehow cool, with domino masks appearing and disappearing at random edits. At the end, an e-mail address for more information appears, so if the clip tempts you into buying the whole film, be MGM's guest.

    Though a couple of deleted scenes do show up, neither feels like a loss. The real gem is in alternate takes of "Doug," a character who probably should not have had more screen time, but you'll wish he did. In the actual film, he has an hilarious confrontation with a convenience store owner, and Zwigoff includes a couple of different solutions to that stand-off. Any one of them would have worked, though the film's take does have the most flow.

    If you want to show up those who sneer at the term "comic book film," set them down and make them watch this DVD. And if you haven't seen it, you need to. The Oscar nomination is the least of what it deserves.

    Buy the Ghost World DVD.

    Derek McCaw


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