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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky brilliance with a most unexpected depth
I went in to Ghost World expecting an oddball comedy, so I was surprised by the nuance, depth, and emotional complexity of this film. There are some funny moments, certainly, but the whole movie is just too deep, dark, and meaningful to be dismissed as mere comedy. Your reaction to the film may well depend on what kind of person you are - or were back in school. If you...
Published on July 14 2006 by Daniel Jolley

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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting movie--interesting characters
From reviews I'd read, I expected to be blown away by Ghost World--much the way I'd been blown away by American Beauty and Lost in Translation. I wasn't. It's a good movie, mind you. Interesting characters who feel very genuine albeit somewhat one dimensional, and an odd tangle relationships. It also very effectively captures the alienation of smart teens growing up...
Published on July 7 2004 by Maine Writer


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky brilliance with a most unexpected depth, July 14 2006
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ghost World (DVD)
I went in to Ghost World expecting an oddball comedy, so I was surprised by the nuance, depth, and emotional complexity of this film. There are some funny moments, certainly, but the whole movie is just too deep, dark, and meaningful to be dismissed as mere comedy. Your reaction to the film may well depend on what kind of person you are - or were back in school. If you were cool and ran with the in crowd, you'll probably laugh - condescendingly, of course - at the losers who make up the main characters of the story. If you were an oddball and have drunk deeply from the waters of alienation, however, you will feel a real kinship with these characters. The only bad thing about this film is the fact that there isn't enough of Scarlett Johansson in it. It's really all about the character of Enid (Thora Birch), an incredibly complex character who wears alienation like a crown and tries to avoid total decimation at the hands of a cruel, mixed-up life. We start out with Enid and her friend Rebecca (Johansson), but - for obvious reasons - Rebecca has a lifeline to normalcy and makes a much better transition to post-high school existence than her friend. The fact that her partner is crime begins to grow apart from her only makes Enid's journey all the more difficult to navigate - and there is much to fuel her contempt for the world.

The plan is for Enid and Rebecca to gets jobs and rent an apartment together, playing pranks and generally complaining about how fake and stupid everyone else is in their spare time. After Rebecca starts working, though, you can start to see that her heart's just not in their long-held plans, while Enid just sort of sleepwalks through each day with no purpose whatsoever - apart from attending the remedial art class she has to take during the summer. She does find a project for herself, though - one extremely weird fellow named Seymour (Steve Buscemi). Of course, it begins with her setting the hapless Seymour up on a fake blind date and watching him suffer through the internal agony of being stood up. She follows him, though, and the two strike up an unusual friendship. Seymour is a great collector of classic jazz and blues records and an odd assortment of other things, and he basically lives in that forgotten world he has recreated for himself. Enid sets out to find Seymour a girlfriend - which is quite a project indeed, as Seymour is almost hopelessly undesirable in the eyes of the world (or at least the 99% of it that Enid hates so much).

Then Enid's world starts closing in on her in all sorts of ways. Always alienated, she now begins to feel completely alone, and she basically keeps sabotaging her chances of reversing course (which is an unfortunate habit most of us weirdoes seem to have). Every day brings bad news on some front. By this point, the comedy is basically over and done with, and the final third of the film comes across as a nuanced, poignant look at this poor soul who truly doesn't know what she is going to do with the rest of her life - or even tomorrow, for that matter.

I could say more, but this is really one of those films that you can't really explain. There's no real sense of closure when the movie ends, but that is indicative of life itself - and that is really what Ghost World is all about. Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi give inspired performances that will stay with you, Scarlett Johansson is marvelous, and some oddball characters (such as Numchuck Guy) round the film out quite well. It's quirky, but quirky is almost always good. I'm not sure how older people will react to this sort of film, but the younger generation will see much of themselves somewhere in this weird story, making Ghost World one of the most impressive coming-of-age movies of the new millennium.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A movie about ideas and people in the real world, July 12 2004
This review is from: Ghost World (DVD)
Here's an unHollyowood film about life, roles, friendship and departure that transcends most of the trash available on the big or little screen. I saw this on TV last night, followed by the big screen spectacular "Three Kings". It was more than clear to me which film was about ideas and real life, and which one was a cure for insomnia. I'll talk about the one about ideas and real life.
Unlike the Amazon synopsis and Leonard Maltin's opinion, this movie is not about alienation. It is about a cynical high school graduate's attempt to find a niche to fit into when her world undergoes changes she cannot understand. Thora Birch ("American Beauty") is very good as the high school graduate with a dark view of everything in the world...until she meets milquetoast record collector Steve Buscemi. There is a good deal of cliche in this meeting but it serves to break the holocaust of darkness in her life, which is compounded by her best friend changing roles, her schlemiel father being an empty, vacuous figure in her life, and her indecision about what to do with her own life.
Birch focuses on loser Buscemi, trying to improve his lot in life. She successfully helps set him up with another woman, then injects herself in his life in a way to locate her own life when everyone she knows seemingly abandons her. When this fails, she follows the pattern of the only other stable role model in her life, a mentally ill middle age man who sits at a bus stop, waiting for a bus that never arrives. When his bus one day arrives, she decides to take it, too, as the movie ends.

This is Birch's final removal from the world, the alienation most critics disucssed. I prefer to think of it as role acceptance, as finding her niche, as getting to a place she wants. This very simple film portrays a reality for many high school kids that come from single parent homes and lack direction after school. It tells a real story in an uncomfortable circumstance. People that enjoy nice neat stories in films will be very distrubed watching this. People whose minds look for meaning in film portrayals will become more involved the longer the movie goes on.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "If he's so weird, why is he wearing Nikes?", July 6 2004
This review is from: Ghost World (DVD)
Dan Clowes, the only comic book artist to be nominated for an Oscar (for best screenplay this film, along with the director Terry Zwigoff), brings to life characters created in one particular storyline from his highly popular and very odd independent comic book Eightball, specifically in the unconventional film Ghost World (2001).
The film, directed by Terry Zwigoff, who also directed the acclaimed biopic about underground artist Robert Crumb aptly entitled Crumb (1994) and Bad Santa (2004), stars Thora Birch as Enid, Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca, and Steve Buscemi as Seymour. The story begins with Enid and Rebecca, who are best friends, graduating from high school. During their slightly reflective moments of high school, we begin to learn that these two girls are among the fringe dwellers. You may be familiar with them, as they were the kids who dressed oddly, oozed sarcasm, shunned almost all after school activities, and seemed to have a negative view of most everything, seeing what they perceived as the phoniness and superficialities rampantly inherent within their environment, and taking pleasure in tormenting and alienating those around them and purposely ostracizing themselves from their peers. They often emit an aura of superiority, believing they are above the banalities, relishing their positions as outsiders smart enough to see through the perceived lameness, but their non-conformist attitudes often rendered them to most as snide, obnoxious losers with extremely limited social circles whose actions seemed to mask a deeper, desperately needing to belong but due to physical differences, lack of athletic abilities and just general awkwardness of youth put them in a not so unique position of never really fitting in with their peers.
Anyway, as the post graduation phase sets in, Enid and Rebecca's paths begin to separate as they had originally intended to get an apartment together, which requires money ergo jobs, but Enid must take a summer school art class to complete her requirements for her high school diploma. Rebecca, seemingly beginning to grow out of the non-conformist phase takes a job at a coffee shop understanding that her goals rely on the very real fact that things cost money, while Enid's less than heartfelt attempts at work fail miserably (her stint working in a movie theater is truly funny...Movie Patron: Do you serve beer or any alcohol? Enid: I wish. Actually you wish... after about five minutes of this movie, you're gonna wish you had ten beers.) Through a particularly obnoxious and uncomfortable prank pulled on a completely unsuspecting and random individual, they meet Seymour, someone most would consider an unassuming loser in that he lives a very isolated life, has no misconceptions about his identity or attractiveness in general, and obsesses over rare records, devoting an entire room in his modest apartment to this pursuit. Enid later develops a relationship mostly due to the fact, in her words, 'I kind of like him. He's the exact opposite of everything I really hate. In a way, he's such a clueless dork, he's almost kind of cool.' Enid begins to identify with Seymour, someone who has excepted his loser status and has even managed to squeeze an existence out of it, while Rebecca seems to be conforming more and more to achieve a goal once shared by both girls, straining their relationship, and effectively isolating Enid even more, especially once Seymour begins to develop a relationship with a woman that Enid helped him meet, not thinking it would ever go very far...
The story sort of rambles along, but seemingly with a purpose. Certain elements appear completely odd and disconnected from any plot, but if you've ever read Eightball, you may have more of an understanding of this, as is how the comic book (graphic novel) is set up, which is one of the elements that made it so popular, at least within the individuals that followed the comic. Offbeat, irrelevant, irregular, spooky, ethereal, sarcastic, witty, genuine, scary, sad, humorous, these are all words I would use to describe both the comic book and the film. I was surprised to see this movie made, much more so a major studio release, as the comic didn't seem to lend itself to this kind of treatment, especially given that the main character is not one your normal viewer would like or develop much empathy for...The characters are very well developed, warts and all, and Birch is wonderful as the snotty, snooty outsider who finds life certainly isn't the same as when she was in high school, suffering, in part, to her unwillingness to grow from her childish attitudes and develop a path to follow. Buscemi seems made for his part as Seymour 'I can't relate to 99% of humanity', given his unique physical appearance and understanding created within the context of his character of his lot in life, embracing that which is comfortable, while the rest being more of a means to an end supporting his passion. He knows what he is, but seems to harbor no ill will or outward hatred towards society in general, accepting his role in life, taking what comes his way and just going with the flow.
The wide screen picture looks really sharp with matching audio. Special features include deleted scenes, a ten minute featurette entitled Making of Ghost World which, in its' brevity and use of various scenes from the film hardly shares much of anything, a music video for the sixties Indian music sequence presented at the beginning of the film (which we see as Enid is watching it on her television), and an original theatrical trailer for the film, along with a TV spot, and a couple of other trailers for more popular films. If you enjoyed this film, I would also recommend Crumb (1994), American Splendor (2003) and the upcoming Clowes/Zwigoff production of Art School Confidential (2004). By the way, watch the film all the way through the credits as a nice little surprise awaits you.
Cookieman108
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best movies ever made, Oct. 5 2009
This review is from: Ghost World (DVD)
One of the best movies ever made. Incredibly smart, funny, original, stylish, sad, amazing. The kind of movie you can watch over and over and appreciate in new ways each time. A perfect piece of film.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting movie--interesting characters, July 7 2004
This review is from: Ghost World (DVD)
From reviews I'd read, I expected to be blown away by Ghost World--much the way I'd been blown away by American Beauty and Lost in Translation. I wasn't. It's a good movie, mind you. Interesting characters who feel very genuine albeit somewhat one dimensional, and an odd tangle relationships. It also very effectively captures the alienation of smart teens growing up in a world that seems populated by zombies of one kind or another. So, it's very much worthwhile watching it--maybe more than once. (I can't help but think of Thora Birch as a smart version of Kelly Osbourne from her dress and mannerisms in this movie. But that's neither here nor there.)
So what's wrong with it? What keeps it from being great? In part, it's the almost relentlessly brooding tone that keeps the characters from being fully realized human beings. Maybe, just maybe, there are people as unreliable, aimless, and alienated all the time--just like Thora Birch's character. But do we really need a movie about someone who is so malignantly morose? And no one else in the movie really picks up the slack, showing that intelligent people can be sharp and effective, as well as cynical. Without that counterpoint, the story has a mushy center, and starts to get--well--a little boring.
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3.0 out of 5 stars THORA BIRCH AND SCARLETT JOHANSSON IN THE SAME MOVIE., July 5 2004
This review is from: Ghost World (DVD)
There is a very, very interesting generation of young actresses in Hollywood. Not only they are pretty, but also they are very talented, and they usually choose to appear in independent movies rather than appear in summer Blockbusters. That generation includes interesting actresses like Sarah Polley, Christina Ricci, Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson, to name a few. Luckily in "Ghost World" appear Thora and Scarlett.
When "Ghost World" was released, a lot of people, included myself, were impressed with Thora Birch, a young actress with a unique beauty and talent. So after I saw her in "American Beauty", I couldn't wait to see her in another movie, and that film is "Ghost World", an independent movie that explores in an unique way the complex transition of the teenage days to the "real world".
"Ghost World" has a very talented cast, in addition to Thora, we can find Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi. Scarlett steals the show in "Ghost World", obviously it was expected to be Thora's movie, but Scarlett is very solid in this movie and she got the attention of other independent filmmakers like Sofia Coppola, two years later, Sofia Coppola cast Scarlett to appear in "Lost In Translation", so "Ghost World" was the "commercial" breakthrough of Scarlett. Plus, she is gorgeous.
Steve Buscemi, another independent spirit, also steals a lot of scenes in "Ghost World", we know him very well from other films like "Fargo" or "Reservoir Dogs". With such acting talent, "Ghost World" is a must-see. The movie offers a unique point of view of the teenage world, this is not your regular "American Pie" movie, so I recommend "Ghost World" to fans of independent cinema.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ghost of a Film, July 3 2004
By 
This review is from: Ghost World (DVD)
I never would have known this movie existed if it wasn't for my sister who insisted I watch it. This is a good movie, but to be honest it's not something I would want to watch again just because it's a bit bland and slow for my taste.
It's about Enid (Birch) and Rebecca (Johansen), two girls who just graduated and have little direction in life. Rebecca is a bit more stable, opting to get a job and find an apartment of her own. Enid on the other hand finds joy in drawing random people's pictures, "torturing" the guy who works at the convenient store, and befriending a strange, older man called Seymour (Buscemi) who doesn't really like anything, just like her. They find solace in each other.
It's a strange film and chugs along at it's own pace, showing us only what we need to make up our minds about their own little world. The film does have it's moments and is in fact wonderfully written. Check this one out if you haven't and find out what you think about this one because honestly, you have to see this one for yourself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Essentials of Life, June 14 2004
This review is from: Ghost World (DVD)
Focusing on the themes of friendship, loyalty, dreams, the future, and the quirks of a teen's life, "Ghost World" is an exciting adventure leading insight into the life of a newly graduated teen.
The story is about two best friends freshly out of high school. In their search for a future they would enjoy, they run across opposition from their parents and peers. They are trying to find a place where they belong in the world. Focusing on one of the girls, it portrays her inner tumult about the decisions she must make. This girl meets an older eccentric man and decides to befriend him and add color to his life. She feels sorry for this man and feels she can help him. She ends up falling in love with him even though she is 18 and he is 40. Through trying to help this man she has only complicated her own life more. When the man she is helping falls in love with a woman his own age (who the girl has set him up with) the girl sabotages the relationship and ends up ruining her friendship with the older man too. She becomes very depressed and dissatisfied with her life at this point. Her best friend is pressuring her to get a job and move into an apartment with her. She doesn't feel ready for this choice yet and holds back. Meanwhile on the home front her father has told her he is going to marry someone who she hates. At this point she is very displeased with her own actions and with the people around her. Finally she decides to follow her own dreams. She finds a random bus and gets on it. This has always been her dream to do and she finally does it.
This movie portrays an interesting aspect to all of our lives. I think at some point this is what everyone wants to do. Just get on a bus and leave all your cares behind. This story really brings about a human connection between the characters that makes you feel as if you know them. I think the author, through this story, is trying to express his concern for the world. He shows one lone girl and the weight of her problems and a lonely man. The author is trying to tell others to just follow their own dreams instead of trying to live someone else's life for them. I think the author is hoping that when people watch this they will try to relate it to their own lives and make better choices themselves.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "I can't relate to 99% of humanity...", June 7 2004
By 
Michael Crane (Orland Park, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ghost World (DVD)
From a first glance, "Ghost World" appears to be your ordinary teen comedy/drama when in reality nothing could be further from the truth. This is a strange and very well made film that is touching, funny, sad and twisted. One of those rare gems that did not fall victim to a "Hollywood" formula. I don't know why it took me so long to finally watch this, but I'm glad that on a day when I had nothing to do that I decided to pop this into the DVD player.
Based on the underground comic book by Daniel Clowes, the story focuses on two characters who have just graduated from high school, Enid and Rebecca. They love to snoop around in other people's lives and find ways to humiliate them for their own amusement. When they play a practical joke on an isolating loner, Seymour, Enid can't help to feel a little guilty--which is something she never feels in similar situations. She ends up forming a strange and open relationship with him after that, and that's when things become complicated for Enid. While Rebecca has more of a focus on where to go next after finishing high school, Enid doesn't have a clue about her future. She feels trapped in a dead end town that offers no sanctuary for her. All of this makes way for a drama/comedy that sticks out from other films.
I had been told many times that this was a movie that I had to see, and now I finally understand why. It was completely different from what I thought the movie would end up being. It's funny and sad at the same time, which is a very difficult task to accomplish without it ending up being corny. The movie is very well written (co-written by the very man who did the comic book), with very realistic dialogue and characters. The movie doesn't really feel like a movie, because it feels like real life. You feel like you know these characters and have seen them before. We all went to school with people like this at some point. That's when you know when something really works--when you feel like you are there.
One of the great things about the movie is that there is not a big payoff in the end. There's on grand finale or an ending that lets you know that everything is going to be all right. I know this was a disappointment for some people, but I couldn't envision the film ending in any other way. It's a realistic and beautiful moment. And to me, that was the greatest payoff you could find. It also shows you that this film refuses to conform to Hollywood standards, which is always refreshing.
The DVD has a few things to offer--"few" being the keyword here. Don't get me wrong, I was happy with the features that were included, but I was hoping there'd be a few more goodies for a standout movie like this. The picture and sound is very good, so no problems there. Extras included are deleted and alternate scenes, a "making of" featurette, trailers and a music video. I think a great opportunity was missed here, as this is the perfect movie that screams for a commentary from the cast and crew. Despite the fact that it isn't loaded with a ton of extras, it's still a very nice package.
"Ghost World" is a phenomenal achievement in filmmaking, in my opinion. True, it is not something that everybody will be head-over-heels for, but those who end up loving it will really appreciate it for what it is. It's a film that takes risks and never falls into a basic movie formula. If you're looking for a movie that is different from the rest, this is an excellent choice. A superb film on all fronts. -Michael Crane
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful coming of age story, May 19 2004
By 
Vagabond77 (Tennessee, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ghost World (DVD)
"Ghost World" is Terry Zwigoff's very off beat comedy drama about Enid (Thora Birch), a high school graduate who still has to take a remidial summer art class, even though she would rather be out causing mischief with her friend Rebecca (Scarlett Johansann). One day they plays a cruel joke by responding to a lonely hearts ad in the newspaper, and then standing him up at a diner. Later on Enid runs across him, whos name is Seymore (played near straight by indi great Steve Buscemi) and finds out they actually have a lot in common, like alianation toward most people and old folk music. As she grows closer to eccentric Seymore, once rebellious Rebecca becomes a 'normal person'. The movie is not a streight forward romance, as you might think at first. It is really about finding out that if you are a nonconformist, you're not alone. It is really hard to say what the movie is about, because it will very from person to person depending on your attitudes and ideals. Most people don't get Enid; she has a sense of humor and outlook on life that is levels above everyone else. That she is smart, there is no doubt. Is she misunderstood by everyone? Very much so. She says she dosn't care if anyone gets her; but that is not true. The first time she finds that Seymore understands her, she digs into him with both claws. The cast dose a incredible job, but with this cast you can't expect less than greatness. Although I have to say that the Art Teacher, played by Illeana Douglas, is very funny (and thought provoking) as a wholely sensitized liberal who way over analyizes junk. If you can find this movie somewhere, I recommend it. Hollywood is not likely to make a lot of gems like this often.
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Ghost World
Ghost World by Terry Zwigoff (DVD - 2003)
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