Saturday, May 25, 2013

Movie #192: Ghost

Ghost is a 1990 supernatural romance/drama starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg and Tony Goldwyn. It came out when I was, what a sophomore in high school, which might be why I can't remember who I saw it with.

Anyway: Sam Wheat (Swayze) is a banker, living with his artist girlfriend Molly (Moore). They apparently just bought an amazing fixer-upper in what Michelle called and "up and coming" neighborhood (meaning it's kind of crappy) in New York, and with their friend Carl (Goldwyn) make it amazing. Swayze is a good guy, if a little superstitious and thick when it comes to how other people think. Molly is ambitious and talented, and they seem to have a pretty good thing going. When we see them in their fabulous place, they have that famous scene where she's working the pottery wheel and he comes in all shirtless and "Unchained Melody" plays and they make out in a very tasteful and erotic way. (And actually, because I saw the movie when I was a clueless teen, I really never put together how skillful the eroticism in that scene is.)

And then he gets shot during a mugging. He dies, but chooses to stay with Molly when the little beads of light come down for him. He has to learn to be a ghost, which means dealing with the discomfort of going through doors and the heartbreak of being around Molly, who can no longer see or hear him. And then the dude that mugged him (Rick Aviles) comes back, looking for something, and he follows the dude home (after an encounter with a paranoid subway ghost, played amazingly by the late Vincent Schiavelli). In the killer's neighborhood, he finds a fraud artist psychic named Oda Mae Brown (Goldberg)...who can actually hear him.

Of course, he uses Brown to try and warn Molly, but they don't do it very smartly. I'll come back to that. Anyway, it turns out Carl orchestrated the whole thing; he's laundering money at the bank for drug dealers (and probably has a habit himself) and he's creepy-hot for Molly. By the end, of course, Willy (the killer) and Carl are both dead, dragged off to Hell in a sequence that was creepy as shit when I first saw it, but hasn't aged well.

The movie is really good, and all of the performances are amazing. Goldberg won an Oscar for her performance, but Swayze, to me, really sells the pain and anger he feels at dying unfairly, as well as the love that keeps him on Earth.

So, what I mentioned before: OK, so, you've got a psychic that can hear ghosts but not see them, and a ghost with unlimited mobility. So what you do to prove that is, you put Molly in one room with a set of dice, and Brown in another room. Molly rolls the dice. Sam watches, then goes through the door and tells Brown what she rolled. Molly can fake it if she wants, but Brown can't profile what Molly might choose to write down or say (the numbers are random).

I brought that up to Michelle, mostly mentioning that if Sam was a gamer this would be a shorter movie. But mostly, I think the issue is that Sam doesn't have great theory of mind. He doesn't understand the way other people think, and he doesn't predict reactions well (another observation I made: If Sam hadn't started fucking with Carl after the money disappears, Carl probably would have stayed at the bank all night and then OD'd in panic, rather than going after Molly). He's not malicious about it, just kind of clueless, and that to me makes him a good character - his flaws drive the plot, but this virtues let him resolve it.

My Grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium.

Next up: The Ghost