Ger­vais? Love his hate

The king of cringe takes his shtick to the big screen in a com­edy about a cyn­i­cal den­tist

The Jewish Chronicle - - Arts&entertainment -

DeN­TIsTs WILL deny this, but it is some­times said that only their fam­i­lies and friends, and their ac­coun­tants, re­ally love them.

Which makes ricky Ger­vais ideal cast­ing as mis­an­thropic Man­hat­tan den­tist Ber­tram Pin­cus in this en­gag­ing fan­tasy com­edy. Ger­vais’s on-screen cyn­i­cal charm­less­ness (he calls ta­cos “stenchy eth­nic food that stings the eyes”) as the char­ac­ter cre­ated by di­rec­tor David Koepp and John Kamps fits him like a sur­gi­cal glove, while Koepp’s deft di­rec­tion gets the most out of his var­i­ous un­for­tu­nate predica­ments.

At­trac­tive echoes of old ghost films Top­per and Blithe Spirit are evoked when Pin­cus dies for seven sec­onds and mirac­u­lously re­turns to life with the un­for­tu­nate abil­ity to see and be seen by the dead. seiz­ing their op­por­tu­nity, they pester him to fin­ish their un­fin­ished busi­ness so that they can stop haunt­ing the streets of New york.

The spirit of un­faith­ful Frank Her- lihy (Greg Kin­n­ear) turns out to be the most re­lent­less, hound­ing Pin­cus into putting a spoke into his wife Gwen’s (Tea Leoni) en­gage­ment to for­tune hunter richard (Billy Camp­bell). It is a job which causes prob­lem af­ter prob­lem for the luck­less den­tist and gen­er­ates plenty of lively, en­ter­tain­ing com­edy.

Of course, the film ba­si­cally a comic take on The Sixth Sense, but it is also an in­ge­nious and very en­joy­able one. I have not en­joyed Ger­vais’s pre­vi­ous big-screen ap­pear­ances in films like For Your Con­sid­er­a­tion and Star­dust. Here, how­ever (de­spite sport­ing less than splen­did real teeth that would s ur e l y put off any smile­wor­ship­ping A m e r i c a n f r o m b e - com­ing his pa­tient) he gives a clever and sus­tained por­trait of slowly erod­ing ha­tred of every­one that clev­erly de­fuses any ten­dency to­wards sen­ti­men­tal­ity. Kin­n­ear is suitably nasty as his tor­men­tor, Leoni’s egyp­tol­o­gist is good fun. so, too, is the film.

Ricky Ger­vais: dead

funny

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