REVIEWS: 'Show of Hands' and 'Ghost Town'

Light-hearted, low budget kiwi film and a well cast comedy starring Ricky Gervais of The Office.

Show of Hands

Director: Anthony McCarten

Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Craig Hall, Steve Lovatt, Kyle Dyhrberg, Chelsie Preston-Crayford, Matt Whelan, Nick Dunbar, Semu Filipo, William Johnson, Anna Dawson

Rating: (M)

Three stars (out of 5)

Review by Mark Orton

One Land Rover Discovery, a struggling car yard, and an absurd publicity campaign challenging sleep-deprived competitors from all walks of life, are the basis for the low-budget Kiwi feature Show of Hands.

Based on an actual world-record-breaking competition staged in Lower Hutt in the '80s, Show of Hands sets up an unlikely friendship between struggling solo mum Jess (Melanie Lynskey) and obsessive competition addict Tom (Craig Hall).

Struggling to stay upright and keep their hands attached to the vehicle, the competitors have more than just the car in common; they each have personal issues to address.

This fuels what amounts to a pretty basic plot.

Unfortunately, Show of Hands gives little away in terms of local reference points and is short on the self-referential cringe-worthy humour that we have come to expect from Kiwi cinema.

Show of Hands looks great, is well cast, but ultimately fails to deliver anything more engaging than a light-hearted feature-length television drama.

Best Thing: Melanie Lynskey, a class act.

Worst Thing: B-story of insolvent car-yard owner.

See it with: No expectations.

Ghost Town

Director: David Koepp

Cast: Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, Tea Leoni, Kristen Wiig, Michael-Leon Wooley, Audrie J Neenan

Rating: (M)

Four stars (out of 5)

Review by Christine Powley

A short pudgy Englishman with a bad attitude is not who you normally find starring in an American romantic comedy.

Somehow, on the strength of his television series The Office and Extras, Ricky Gervais finds himself in the position where the normal film rules do no apply.

Ghost Town (Rialto and Hoyts) has Gervais as antisocial dentist Bertram Pincus. This most British of characters is practising in Manhattan and hating it.

The story kicks off when Pincus checks into hospital for a routine colonoscopy - a joke procedure for everyone except the one being probed.

He dies just for a little bit and this brush with death leaves him with the unwanted ability to see ghosts. As always, ghosts are a pain, so demanding and always picking inconvenient moments for their little concerns.

One ghost, Frank (Greg Kinnear), promises to get rid of the other ghosts if Pincus would just stop his wife Gwen (Tea Leoni) from remarrying.

There are no prizes for guessing the direction this is going to take. While the plot never veers into originality, Ghost Town does work because the roles have been so carefully cast.

No one can do insults like Gervais and Leoni is a natural at doing daffy but lovable.

In the end you sort of believe that all grumpy Pincus needed was a woman like Gwen and - even more of a stretch - that Pincus is the one to make her laugh again.

Best thing: Gervais and Leoni sparkle together.

Worse thing: At times it feels as if you are watching a bad parody of The Ghost Whisperer.

See it with: Someone not scared of dentists.



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