Bruce Joel Rubin
Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Tony Goldwyn, Rick Aviles,Whoopi Goldberg
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I originally saw this film in the theater 20 years ago. I came out with very fond memories, but at the age of 15, my palate as a film enthusiast was perhaps not as developed as it is today. Yet, despite having forgotten a number of scenes in the film, much of the movie still remained locked away in the back of my mind, flooding forward as the film progressed. Hot off his huge success with Dirty Dancing, Patrick Swayze parlayed his popularity into several roles, few of which would be as touching as Sam Wheat in Ghost.
The film revolves around a young couple on the verge of engagement. Sam is a capable businessman and Molly (Demi Moore) is an artist who works in sculptures. Their best friend, one of Sam’s co-workers, Carl (Tony Goldwyn), is there to help them tear down walls and eventually move into their new apartment. One evening when Sam and Molly are taking a brisk walk, he is killed by a seemingly-random thief. Separated from his body, Sam must find a way to comfort his mourning girlfriend while uncover the truth about that fateful night when more than just randomness was involved in his death.
In one of her best performances, Whoopi Goldberg plays a sham psychic and grifter who discovers she actually does have the gift her mother and grandmother once possessed: the ability to speak with the dead. She helps Sam as best she can despite the grave danger in which she eventually finds herself. It’s not Swayze’s best (I’ll give him that credit for his wonderful turn in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar), but he does quite well. Moore still feels a bit undeveloped as an actresses, but has a number of scenes that show she would have the potential to excel at her craft. And, unfortunately, Goldwyn parlayed this performance into a career of similar roles, despite being quite good in the film (or perhaps because of it). The film itself shows a touch of age in its effective use of technology, but the story has lost little of its charm or passion. It’s a film which doesn’t hit its full emotional stride until the very end, but which shows just how deep our attachments to the characters are when we reach those final, bittersweet moments.
September 13, 2010