Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ghost Dad (1990)

Directed by Sidney Poitier. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that this film represents one of the greatest cinematic achievements of all time in that absolutely nothing works. There is not a single line of dialog, plot element, story theme, acting performance or special effect that works effectively here. If you ever see this -- and I urge you to stop reading this and begin planning a party to screen this in your home for as many people as you can right now -- you and the guests at your Ghost Dad Screening Party will swear that re-shoots were scheduled because initial footage was shot that was too convincing and entertaining.

I won't belabor the point, but the most critical thing here that doesn't work is what the movie is actually about. This is basically a re-make of "Heaven Can Wait," though it's weirdly unclear why our protagonist is caught between life and the afterlife. According to the Netflix summary: "When workaholic widower Elliot Hopper (Bill Cosby) is killed in a tragic accident...[he] has three days to return from the dead and get his family's finances and priorities in order." That alone is more helpful than the first act of the movie itself.

However, don't just take my word for this. There is tremendous debate regarding "Ghost Dad." Sample from the always insightful Netflix member reviews which, as always, I am NOT making up:
  • "A touching movie about a dad who dies..."
  • "Fun for the whole family. While it's probably a little lame for any kid over the age of 12."
  • "The parent-child relationship is every bit as gripping as the relationship between Michael Corleone and Vito Corleone in 'The Godfather'."
  • "Better than 'Leonard Part 6'."
  • "The special effects are astounding."
I agree with that last guy. The special effects were astounding. I didn't know that by 1990 anyone making a movie would still make someone fly by having them swing around on a wire, or disappear by having everyone in the room stand still so they could push them out off the set and then turn the camera back on.

A must-see. Obviously.