"Ghost World" (IMDb listing), directed by Terry Zwigoff and written by Zwigoff and Dan
Clowes, is a story of two cynical best friends, Enid
(Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson), who recently graduated from
high school. They are as vicious as teenage girls can be, as they make fun
of the inanities of their peers and their surrounding world, which seems to
be filled with shallow, stupid people. Based on the graphic novel "Ghost
World" by comic artist/writer Dan Clowes (creator of underground comic
favorite "Eightball"), the film is a near-perfect adaptation of the original
story's brooding, melancholic pacing. This movie goes beyond mere straight
adaptation, however, as writers Zwigoff and Clowes expand and build upon the
distorted and often funny world that Enid and Rebecca occupy. Clowes'
characters are lifted from the comic page and brought into three dimensions,
usually with hilarious results.
Enid and Rebecca decide to sack the conventional idea of
how high school grads are supposed to go about their lives (ie: college,
career, etc), instead choosing to find menial jobs and moving into an apartment together. As they go about their separate ways to raise money for their endeavor, the
girls often run into strange and uncomfortable situations, such as run-ins
with comic-store regulars or insane rednecks in convenience stores.
The girls dote over a convenience store clerk named Josh (Brad Renfro), who
doesn't seem to like either of the girls, or is perhaps too intimidated by
their upfront behavior. Meanwhile, as Rebecca is slaving away in a coffee
shop, Enid ends up in an unlikely friendship with an eccentric, older
man named Seymour (Steve Buscemi in all of his eccentric
glory). Seymour's anemic, sad-sack expression is accentuated by his moldy,
brown thrift store suits and his penchant for collecting old blues 78s and
antique advertising art. Enid is drawn to the pale, sickly-looking man in
his mid 40s, as she soon finds that his quirkiness and inherent strangeness
aren't far from her own behavior.
"Ghost World" could have been turned into yet another annoying teen movie
about pseudo-bohemian, malcontent teenagers (usually played by actors in
their late 20s), who despise everything they consider
superficial or absurd in this world. But with Clowes in tight control of
the script, he doesn't let his artful baby turn into another pile of cliched
Hollywood dreck. "Ghost World" is a haunting, oftentimes hilarious, and
very entertaining film that will appeal to a large audience. The dialogue is wonderfully written, and is often witty. The colors jump at you as if you were really looking at a
comic book (even though the original "Ghost world" comic serial was
presented in black, white and blue hues). "Ghost World" is a tender, realistic look into the world of teenage girls who believe the world is all wrong, and they're right.
With "Ghost World," Thora Birch has redeemed herself from the ungodly
awfulness of "Dungeons and Dragons." Birch can be
deliciously bitchy in one scene, then deeply wounded the next. Buscemi's portrayal of Seymour is another standout performance. Buscemi needs
to stop appearing in those lame-ass Michael Bay/Jerry Bruckheimer turds ("Con
Air," "Armageddon"), and go back to playing interesting characters like
Seymour. Additionally, Illeana Douglas turns in a brilliant cameo as a stereotypically
whacked-out, politically-correct art school teacher who encourages Enid to follow her artistic instincts.
If you're looking for an alternative to the flashy summer atrocities of
late, you need to give "Ghost World" a try. "Ghost World" has more humanity
in five minutes than 10 full-length blockbusters belched out by the
Filmfodder Grade: A+