Thora Birch (American Beauty) and Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation) "sneak into your heart and stay there" (Rolling Stone) in this "eerie, masterful movie" (Movieline) from the acclaimed director of Crumb. Co-starri... more »ng Brad Renfro (Deuces Wild), Illeana Douglas (Stir of Echos) and Steve Buscemi (Fargo) in "the best role of his career" (Movieline), Ghost World is a "smartly strange comedy [that] stands out like the Taj Mahal" (Time)! While their classmates head for college, Enid (Birch) and Rebecca (Johansson) focus their energies on tormenting those around them - from a goofy convenience store clerk (Renfro) to an eccentric art teacher (Douglas). But when they zero in on an oddball loner (Buscemi) looking for Miss Right, their seemingly innocent meddling threatens to shatter one of their hearts not to mention their lifelong friendship.« less
Amanda D. from PHILADELPHIA, PA Reviewed on 11/8/2010...
One of my all-time favorite movies, based on my all-time favorite comic. Once in a while, you'll come across a director or writer (or cartoonist, Like Clowes) who can express your frusterations with the world even better than you could. And for me--or anyone frusterated by the artificiality and ideals of "conformity" in modern society--this was definitely one of those films. Enid and Rebecca are laughable reflections of the darkest parts of our angsty teenage selves, and their disillusionment with the the world a haunting reminder of the worst of our late teens and early twenties. A celebration of weirdos and social rejects, for anyone who feels from time to time like a weirdo or social reject.
4 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Meg B. (Megatron) Reviewed on 11/7/2009...
If you enjoy oddball comedies, punk rock, blues, comic books, obsessive collecting, crazy art teachers R. Crumb or Steve Buscemi you NEED this film. A great adaptation of Dan Clowes’ graphic novel. For the bitter self-absorbed naive angst-ridden teen in all of us. A++
5 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Love F. (momto5) from WINSLOW, ME Reviewed on 6/9/2009...
I have NO idea how this movie got such a high rating! 5 stars you got to be kidding! I fell asleep 5 times this movie was so boring. How could such good actors do such a bad movie?? To each his own I guess.
3 of 14 member(s) found this review helpful.
The 1% Club
Mike Stone | 08/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie has two potential audiences.1. Seymour?s 99%, i.e., that segment of the population which he (or I) can?t relate to at all. People lacking any modicum of self-awareness, whose lives are spent in the mall or in front of the TV watching prime time network television. People whose record collection may include the complete works of Ashford & Simpson, and whose car radio is tuned to any cloying morning Zoo program. People in this group may enjoy ?Ghost World? to a degree. They will find Enid?s green hair and Rebecca?s cynical attitude amusing. They will laugh at Seymour?s bland wardrobe and jagged brown teeth. And when the movie?s over, they will leave the theatre quietly, walk to their SUVs, and head home to their quiet suburban existence.But really, this movie is not for them.2. It?s really for Seymour?s 1%, i.e., that segment of the population distressed by conformity, obsessed by weirdness, and repressed because of it. These are the people who surround themselves with massive record collections, or H.R. Pufnstuf dolls, or Bollywood videos, in an effort to beat a different path. They are lonely, frustrated, and on the verge of giving up any hope at a social life, in favour of a hermetic existence. These are the people that will be able to relate to ?Ghost World?s startling menagerie of misfits. And feel tremendous sadness for themselves as well.Terry Zwigoff mines much of the same material here that he did with his documentary ?Crumb?, save for the emphasis on ill mental health. It?s an amazing turn for a man previously known only as a documentarian. I suppose that?s why the reality of the characters? surrounding is so real. Each scene is populated with mile and miles of personable knick-knacks and bland consumer products. Seymour and Enid?s rooms perfectly reflect their personalities. The screenplay, conceived with ?Ghost World? originator Daniel Clowes, manages to tackle the banality of suburban life, and the oppression of consumer culture with just the right amount of bite and bile. Their collective sense of humour is put on display right away, by showing a high school valedictorian confined to a wheelchair and a monstrous neck brace, in a scene played for laughs. If you don?t giggle at the hypocrisy of this moment (her old intoxicated ways gave her a ?spiritual perspective on life? while it was robbing her of the use of her legs), then I recommend avoiding the film altogether.Another reason to avoid the film is if you are squeamish at the idea of a 40+-year-old man and an 18-year-old girl having a relationship. One of ?Ghost World? most powerful points is in Enid and Seymour?s friendship. These are two kindred spirits, oddballs to the rest of the world, who?ve found each other and cherish each other?s oddness. Sure, chronologically one may be twice the age of the other, but Enid and Seymour have so much in common that it would be a shame to keep them apart just for that.Thora Birch, playing a similar character here as in ?American Beauty?, is asked to carry the movie, and boy does she. Even while showing Enid?s enormous extroverted ego, you always get a sense that she is as fragile and scared on the inside as the weirdoes she torments. And Birch exudes an odd strength (both physical and emotional) that allows Enid to get away with more than she really deserves. Enid?s relationship with Rebecca, played by Scarlett Johansson, is confusing at first. These girls seem to be so much at odds with each other. There are some tangible hints at malice bubbling beneath the surface. Silly me. They?re supposed to be there. Enid and Rebecca may or may not be nearing the end of their friendship, for adulthood is looming and it?s time to grow up. Rebecca (Johansson does fine work, content with being subdued and allowing Birch to steal the show) wants to move out and get a real job; Enid is still obsessed with punk rock.Seymour is an inspired creation. He?s in the paradoxical position of desperately wanting female companionship, while simultaneously despising nearly every person he meets. His passions rule him, bubbling up at the inappropriate times (like when he tries to pick up a woman in a bar, only to find himself yammering on about the difference between Ragtime blues and conventional blues? 12-bar structure; his prospective score wears an expression of utter confusion). Steve Buscemi -- the most recognizable face in the cast -- manages to disappear into Seymour?s everyman/loser persona seamlessly. Buscemi?s Seymour hates his life immensely, but never becomes whiny or unpleasant. He just goes about his business, allowing his undercurrent of anger to seethe gently to the surface in rare moments (e.g. Enid: ?I?d kill for a collection like this!? Seymour: ?Go ahead and kill me.?).?Ghost World? isn?t for everyone. But it should be. It gives a window into the world of the disenchanted, those of us who walk the streets and feel ill at the sights of the conformist and soulless masses. So maybe there is, after all, a third potential audience for the film. Those who pay good money for tickets, and walk out of the theatre befuddled at what they just saw, unable to relate to the wonderful characters on screen. Which in an odd way reminds me of the old poker axiom:?If you sit down at the table, and you can?t spot the sucker, it?s probably you.?"
"If he's so weird, why is he wearing Nikes?"
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 07/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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"
Accentuate the positive
RolloTomasi | California | 04/21/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Terry Zwigoff's "Ghost World" is that rarest of hybrids -- a human comedy, brilliantly and bizarrely funny, but suffused with a profound sense of melancholia. The experience of watching it is deliriously pleasurable, but the humor emerges from the film's unfailingly generous reservoir of empathy; by the end, you're not sure whether to respond to these characters with laughter or with love. It is quite clear that Zwigoff feels both.And that's what critics of this fine film have overlooked -- that although 17-year-old Enid (Thora Birch) looks at the world with bitter, unremittingly sarcastic eyes, "Ghost World" couldn't be less cynical or judgmental if it tried. Of all the characters on display, most of whom Enid despises and ridicules, there isn't a single one who isn't really good at heart; even the art teacher (a ridiculously funny Illeana Douglas), who has been derided as a one-dimensional caricature, has an untouchable core of decency.Indeed, the character for whom "Ghost World" retains the harshest criticism is Enid herself. As much as we adore her terrifying intelligence, her single-mindedly retro fashion sense, and her contempt for all things phony and pretentious, we aren't allowed to forget her self-destructive habits or her unwillingness to grow up even as the world around her charges resolutely forward. Her best friend, Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson), once her partner in crime, has taken on a normalcy and sense of perspective that Enid finds tiresome, which is partly why she takes refuge in a lonely middle-aged bachelor named Seymour (Steve Buscemi, in a shoulda-been-Oscar-nominated performance). Their bond is at once improbable and emotionally convincing, and Zwigoff harmonizes Birch's and Buscemi's own highly idiosyncratic styles into a marvelous, unforced chemistry.Compassionate and subtly optimistic, "Ghost World" only falters slightly with a few misfired pop-culture references and an ending that's both ambiguous and too overstated, but even that misstep proves strangely satisfying. With a character as unforgettable as Enid, it's good to know that there's such a thing as closure -- even if it's open-ended closure."
A hilarious, yet touching comedy
Michael J. Mazza | Pittsburgh, PA USA | 03/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Probably the best praise I can offer for "Ghost World," directed by Terry Zwigoff, is that the film had me laughing heartily from the start nearly to the end. Yes, it's a great comedy. But it's also a surprisingly melancholy and touching character study that is graced with superb performances by an excellent cast."Ghost World" tells the story of Enid (played by Thora Birch) and her best friend Rebecca (Scarlett Johannson), recent high school grads who are struggling through this transitional phase in their lives. Early in the film the girls, who scorn much of "mainstream" society, play a cruel joke on an eccentric loner named Seymour (Steve Buscemi). But what begins as a joke leads into a quirky, engaging relationship between Seymour and Enid. The main story is well complemented by some equally quirky subplots, all of which blend together to form an effective larger story."Ghost World" is filled with witty, funny, irony-laden dialogue. And these great words are delivered with flair by the wonderful cast. Birch really shines as an offbeat leading lady; her performance has bite, but she's also appealing and vulnerable. Johannson complements her well as pal Rebecca, and Ileana Douglas is a lot of fun as Enid's politically conscious summer school art teacher. And I can't say enough good things about Steve Buscemi as Seymour. He takes what could have been a stereotypical antisocial loser and instead brings real depth and humanity to the character.The great script and performances are well enhanced by thoughtful, inventive production details; "Ghost World" is almost as much fun to look at as it is to listen to. This is a really outstanding film that effectively deals with such universal issues as alienation, nonconformity, friendship, and the transition to young adulthood."
A film I can relate to
BigSPEEGS | USA | 06/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The so-called "teen movies" offered in recent years have been of a dull and empty variation. The basic formula usually includes the geek who gets the girl/guy, the nasty popular kids, the jocks, the unlikely couple and more uses of the word "like" than any normal person is able to tolerate. What a rare treat it is that in the middle of the season usually full of teen movie trash that we had "Ghost World", a film that remembers that not everybody fits into easily accessible categories (adults and teens alike). Thora Birch is Enid, a high school grad unsure of what to do with the rest of her life. She thinks she will rent an apartment with her best friend Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson), but with no job and summer school (for flunking art), nothing is certain. In a similar spot is Seymour (Steve Buschemi), a record collector who can't see any real meaning to his actions. Enid and Rebecca play a seemingly harmless prank on him after seeing a classified ad he put in the paper. Quite to the surprise of the duo, this little stunt really hurts Seymour. Guilty, Enid feels obligated to hook him up with the girl he was looking for in the ad. What is remarkable about "Ghost World" is not that it is more entertaining than your average teen entertainment. No, what strikes me about "Ghost World" is how astutely it remembers the feeling of displacement that plagues so many teens. Enid doesn't seem to have many friends who respect her, and as cynical as she may get, human contact is the obvious ingredient missing in her life, even though she is constantly pushing it away. Rebecca urges her to get a job, so she gets a job working at a concession stand in a multiplex. That same day, she's fired for too many wise remarks about the theater and it's customers. Enid doesn't feel the need to "fit in", instead she sees the whole world collapsing around her and would rather observe and snicker than get away from the problem. She tries to move on with her life, yet everyone around her is trying to keep her grounded. Thora Birch seems more alive as Enid than in any other of her roles. In "American Beauty", she played a similar character, but I was less than convinced with her portrayal, mostly consisting of pouting. In "Ghost World", it is like she has woken up, and really works as Enid. Her chemistry with the other actors ranges from comfortable to repellent as the story requires. Seymour is just as miserable as Enid. He collects all kinds of junk- from jazz records to old posters from the fast-food company he works for. He wishes he could have a more rewarding career and a more exciting life. "I hate my intrests", he remarks. Where Enid is a little more honest and will say anything that comes to her mind, Seymour builds a shield against pain with his collections and obsessions and rarely takes a chance. Enid does not care about the consequences; Seymour is constantly running away from them. Steve Buschemi is wonderful in this role. He does what an actor should as he doesn't overact but really gets into the character and inhabits him. As we watch him, we feel just like a picture Enid draws in her sketchbook: "Go Seymour!" We want him to get the girl, to succeed and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, his own self-pity comes back to haunt him when he realizes he has nothing in common with the woman of his dreams. In the end, Enid is off to create a world of her own, while Seymour is left behind back where he started. He does have his experiences with Enid, but how far does that really take him? We will never find out, but we are sure that he will start to come into his own; we now have gained confidence in him. The film has that personal touch that most films lack. Coming from Terry Zwigoff, a man who threatened to commit suicide if the subject for a documentary he was making didn't cooperate ("Crumb"), it's easy to see why the film is so accurate in its portrayal of emotional emptiness. "Ghost World" has so many strengths to deem it one of the best films of the year. And as much as some would like to disagree, it is not a teen movie in any way, shape or form."