starring Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi
written by Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff
directed by Terry Zwigoff
This is based on a comic book of the same name by Daniel Clowes. I don’t like movies that are based on newspaper comic strips or comic books. They are too dumb, and there have been a lot of them. Movies based on cartoons - likeThe Flintstones, Scooby Doo, and The Jetsons - are a little better, but not much.
Currently,Spiderman is very popular. Awful! All three of the Batman movies, and the 1960s Batman television show. Horrible!
The Supermanmovies (starring Christopher Reeves), and the old 1950s TV show. Terrible! Richie Rich, X-Men, The Shadow, Judge Dredd,Spawn, Dennis the Menace, Swamp Thing, The Phantom, Flash Gordon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Casper the Friendly Ghost, among others, are all derived either from comic books or cartoons. Some on that list are passable, but most are indescribably boring.
People I know who are aficionados of animation generally have high praise for these films. They parry my criticism by, in turn, criticizing the movie scripts and the editing used to aim the film to an‘inappropriate’ audience. In other words they rue the art and integrity of the original comic that is sacrificed to the interests of commerce when they get transformed to the big screen.
I did not know that Ghost World was based on a comic book when I rented it. As with all the videos I rent in Japan I have to make a judgment based on the illustrations on the video box, because I cannot read the synopsis of the story in Japanese. I thought that with Steve Buscemi in it there might be something worthwhile.
In fact, it was an interesting performance, but I could easily imagine the story developing in a different direction than it did. I mean, Ghost World, as a serious film rather than a comic book adaptation, could have been a great teenage movie, or high school coming-of-age movie, or something like it.
Almost the lonely thing that I liked about Ghost World - the thing that made me think of it as a possible adolescent coming-of-age movie - were the many dead-pan, sarcastic lines. The main characters are two girls, just graduated from high school. They don’t know yet what to do with themselves, so they just hang around like teenagers do.
At their graduation party, an acquaintance asks them,
“Where are you going to college?”
And at the same party,
“Just think, we’ll never see Dennis again.”
In a restaurant, watching other people,
“Oh, my god, he just ordered a big glass of milk!”
“That’s a vanilla milkshake.”
Sitting at a table in the same restaurant,
“We should check out the Personals in case our future husbands try to contact us.”
I love dead-pan lines like that. The performances are good I thought, but there is just so little for the actors to do in the way of a story.