Ghost World is one of those great movies reliant on its screenplay. While director Terry Zwigoff certainly made his 2001 film visually fresh and inventive, the film's energy and strength came from the incredible dialogue, well-written characters, and pop culture observation- all derived from Zwigoff's script (co-written with Daniel Clowes and adapted from Clowes' graphic novel).
The screenplay begins with opening letters from its authors, both of which contain hilarious and touching anecdotes on the screenwriting process. Both affirm the difficulty of writing such a screenplay. There is also a few pages of candid polaroids of characters (my favorite photo is of Teri Garr's hilariously gauche creation, Maxine). There is also a very funny new comic strip involving main characters Enid and Rebecca written especially for the screenplay book. Between its attractive front cover and enlightening packaging, this is a very handsome book.
The screenplay itself is brilliant, and I certainly was thrilled when Zwigoff and Clowes were nominated for the 2001 best screenplay Oscar. It has a taut three-act structure, funny one liners, and memorable interesting characters: teen outcasts: Enid, Rebecca (played by Thora Birch and Scarlet Johansson in the movie); adult outcast: Seymour (Steve Buscemi in the movie); iconoclastic hick: Doug; flakey art teacher: Roberta (Illeana Douglas); clueless Dad (Bob Balaban). The screenplay is very literate and is a pleasure to read.
My favorite line is when Rebecca says at a particularly lame high school graduation party, "This is so bad it's almost good..." to which Enid responds, "This is so bad it's gone past good and back to bad again."