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Movie Review: Ghost World

Story: Thus is certainly not your average summer movie about teenagers and their hormones. Directed and co-scripted by Terry Zwigoff (who gave us the wonderful '95 documentary about Crumb, the artist) based on the comic book novel by Daniel Clowes (who also co-scripted) this is an honest, dark (I love dark) unusual film about outsiders. The protagonists are two teenage girls, recent high school graduates, who opt not to go to college but to continue their lifelong role as friends, would be apartment mates, soul mates in sarcasm, cynicism, pessimism and also find their best form of entertainment is deriding other people's behavior, lifestyles and looks. But honestly, you can't help but like these two, really! The movie is episodic but most of the strings get pulled together by the end. It is funny, touching, memorable and definitely worth the price of admission.

Acting: Thora Birch (American Beauty) as Enid, the darker of the two friends is fabulous. She is the latest in the anti-cheerleader ingenue types reminiscent of Christina Ricci of a few years ago. Scarlett Johansson (Horse Whisperer) is equally fine and understated as Becky. Steve Buscemi is right on the money as Seymour, the adult schleppy dork, who at first was a victim of the two friends and then becomes worthy of attention. Illeana Douglas is hysterical as the politically correct High School art teacher. Bob Balaban as Enid's dad is great and Terry Garr in a cameo appearance was quite scary looking. All of the other supporting players were terrific too.

Critters: None. (an oversight).

Food: Fried chicken, vanilla shake, beer, ice cream, beef jerky and diner food.

Visual Art: A bonanza of sights. I got totally involved in looking at the background art and artifacts but did not want to miss any of the dialogue. What a dilemma! There is also some hilarious student art work and glorious drawings by none other than Crumb's daughter, Sophie.

Blatant Product Placement: Tropicana and Dunkin Donuts. There are also strip malls all over the movie with logos galore but I can't imagine these corporations paid for this sort of product placement.

Soundtrack: Excellent.

Opening Titles: They worked well.

Theater Audience: Very crowded for an early afternoon film. All kinds of people, mostly adults.

Quirky Meter: 5

Predictability Level: medium

Oscar Worthy: No.

Nit Picking: Many of the scenes were flat, like a story board drawing or a cartoon panel. I liked that part of the film. But then the director would switch gears and try to give some perspective and combination shots did not work well for me.

Big Screen or Rental: See it now on the big screen. Some other weekend you could have rentals of other oddball teen films such as Heathers, Rushmore, Heavenly Creatures, and the wonderful Election.

Length: 110 minutes.