Monday, October 10, 2011

The Great Ghost Rescue and Friendly Spirits?: A Movie Review

Director: Yann Samuell.

Writers: Eva Ibbotson (novel), and David Solomons (screenplay).

Cast: Kevin McKidd, Steven Mackintosh, Emma Fielding, Anthony Head, and Bill Ward.

DVD Release Date: October 4, 2011.

Humphrey was once an ordinary boy with an ordinary life. Well, that is, until he died—quite by accident, really. But don't tell his best friend, Barnabas, that. His death quite literally sets in motion The Great Ghost Rescue, a tongue-in-cheek horror comedy from the UK about dislocated spirits looking for a new home.

This movie made a quiet release on this side of the pond with very little fanfare as a Halloween season DVD release. Also, this film is by no means a faithful adaptation of Eva Ibbotson’s original novel of the same name, published 1975; that is a shame. This film is easy to share with young ones before going out for trick or treat.

While children may not get all of the jokes, older audiences can easily chuckle at the hilarious sight gags and crazy societal dysfunction going on. This production is basically a blend of the humour from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the grisly silliness from The Addams Family. The laughs may be cheap and some of the acting over the top, but it works.

George, the outlandish screaming skull, nearly steals the show. Along with Mabel (Emma Fielding), who plays one of the heads of an aristocrat (beheaded along with two sisters, due to a failed marriage arrangement); Hamish (Kevin McKidd), the legless Scottish warrior ghost; and Winifred (Georgia Groome), a drowned lady accused of witchcraft, they make up Humphrey's adopted family.

They are quick to welcome Humphrey into their fold, but all he wants is do is to live a normal life. When this boy turned into a rickety ghost, Master Wraith (Bob Goody), a hunter, tried to do away with him. Instead, when this spirit hunter showed up at the orphanage, he took notice of Barnabas instead, adopted him, and announced the childrens' home condemned. When Wraith (now dead) and Humphrey reunite later in the film, he shows remorse for what he did in life and is repentant. Goody is a great actor even for this bit role and he is important to the setup of the main story in this film.

The plot comes and goes as frequent as the moments that plays the family camaraderie up for laughs. Sometimes that happens too much and audiences may simply want to get to point. This movie could have been shorter to quicken the pace. Most of the tale deals with the day in the life of four spirits, and it drifts around too much. Until the plot re-establishes itself, at least this film shows off the acting talents of the main cast, including Anthony Head of Buffy fame. But soon enough, Humphrey learns about a terrible secret, and it is up to him to save the ghost community at large.

A memory from his past surfaces and apparently there is meaning to what urban developer and entrepreneur, Brad, means by life everlasting. All the story points comes to head.

Despite the hiccups that this movie has for pace, this product can be an enjoyable light-hearted Halloween treat for the entire family. There are a few great cinemagraphic moments that can easily belong on a big screen and some period clothing to marvel at. To keep a detail like Winifred continuously dripping wet is much appreciated. At least in the UK, there is respect for all the friendly ghosts that are said to be haunting the land. Give them the respect they want and they will leave you alone.

Overall: 8 out of 10.

*disclaimer: advertising and promotional material (screeners) do not bias reviews.

On DVD now

The Great Ghost Rescue at Amazon

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