Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi, Illeana Douglas, Brad Renfro
Rebecca: This is so bad it’s almost good.
Enid: This is so bad it’s gone past good and back to bad again.
After graduating from high school, Enid (Birch) learns that she must retake an art class she failed. This puts her plans to get a job and move in with her friend Rebecca (Johansson) on hold. Meanwhile, after the two girls pull a prank on a stranger, Seymour (Buscemi), Enid befriends Seymour and tries to find him a girlfriend.
I had no knowledge of the comic that this movie was based on before watching it years ago, and still don’t really. Apparently it’s a cult classic, and it sounds like fans of the comic liked the movie too. Personally, I liked the movie a whole lot.
Birch and Buscemi are great in it, and while she doesn’t have as much to do, it’s probably the best work I’ve seen Johansson do (whether that’s saying much or not, I’ll leave up to you). I find the style of humor very appealing, and there are several scenes that I can watch over and over.
It’s not for all tastes, I’ve discovered, as the acerbic tone is a little too much of a turn off for some viewers. Enid admits that she can’t relate to 99% of society, and she’s not afraid to be pretty nasty to them. She and Rebecca shared this survival tactic throughout high school, holding on tight to each other just to stay afloat amid all the “extroverted, obnoxious, pseudo-bohemian losers.” Not only can Enid not relate to society, but she seems to have an active disdain for it. On the other hand, Rebecca seems more open to letting herself start to intermingle with society once their high school lives are over. She’s ready to grow up, have a job, rent an apartment, meet guys, etc. Enid likes things the way they were.
And so we come to the title of the movie, Ghost World. This unnamed city they live in is overrun by urban sprawl, which covers over any sense of what was there in the past. You can just see little glimpses of it here and there, like ghosts. Seymour is like Enids window into that past. He collects a lot of old records and trinkets. They are kindred souls in the sense that they both can appreciate simpler things from a simpler time that have been shrouded in a cacophony of advertisements, political correctness, and societal noise.
Okay, I’ve gone way too in depth with this, so I’ll end by saying that it’s a funny film, with good performances, and an ending that I think is pretty thought provoking. My only real complaint would be that it’s directed in a way that feels a little choppy. That might have to do with its comic origins, but sometimes it feels like hooked together segments rather than a smooth flowing movie.
Regardless, it’s a movie I’ve watched many times and will probably watch many more.
Even if you can only relate to a small percentage of society, make sure you relate to that small percentage well.
10 – 1.2 for the directing/editing issues I mentioned = 8.8