“It's amazing, Molly. The love inside, you take it with you.”
Only one film beat Jerry Zucker’s Ghost at the U.S. Box Office in 1990 and that was Home Alone, but Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore’s romantic fantasy managed to take everyone by surprise as it topped other films like Pretty Woman, Dances With Wolves, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Total Recall, Goodfellas, and even the sequels for Die Hard, The Godfather, Robocop, and Back to the Future. What is surprising is that this ghost tale still remains such a beloved classic to this date, thanks in most part to the amazing chemistry between Swayze and Moore and to the fantastic soundtrack performed by The Righteous Brothers. I don’t know however, if this film would’ve worked without Whoopi Goldberg’s hilarious supporting performance (which won her her only Oscar) considering the story doesn’t really pick off until she enters the picture. Of course that overly emotional touching scene at the end is what everyone probably remembers (and the reason why this film won an Oscar for Original Screenplay), but I don’t think it has aged too well. The film is entertaining, although it is cheesy at times and the visual effects don’t live up to today’s standards. What surprised me the most when I saw this is how well it balances those melodramatic moments with the comedy, because I always believed this film was a romantic tale from beginning to end, but it really is more of an action comedy with several twists along the way (albeit predictable ones). There is no doubt that the universal premise of wanting to believe that our loved ones are still with us when they pass away to protect and guard us is what really sold this film and Ghost easily manages to tell that story with two likable actors sharing a strong chemistry together.
The film opens by introducing us to a lovely couple, Sam (Patrick Swayze) and Molly (Demi Moore), who’ve just bought a property and are ready to make their dreams a reality. Carl (Tony Goldwyn) is Sam’s good friend and work partner at the bank who is always there supporting him and Molly. However, their dreams are shattered when Sam is murdered after a thug tries to steal his wallet one night. Sam’s spirit remains on Earth and he discovers that this wasn’t simply a robbery and that Molly’s life is also in danger. He must warn her before it’s too late, but no one seems to see or hear him. That is until Sam meets a psychic named Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg) who will try to convince Molly that she can speak to her dead lover’s spirit before it is too late.
Up to this point Jerry Zucker was known mainly for co-directing satires like the classic Airplane!, Top Secret!, and Ruthless People. Prior to his solo directorial feature debut in Ghost, he had helped write the screenplay for Naked Gun as well, so he was mainly known for his work in satires. Many probably believed this ghost story was just another satire and so the romantic story took everyone by surprise. I’m sure Bruce Willis was regretting not having accepted to co-star along with his wife at the time, and that may be the reason why he accepted to star in The Sixth Sense years later. It’s a different film but it does seem to borrow certain ghostly elements from this romantic tale. I did find it kind of ironic that in the 90’s you had these actors standing next to each other being forced to act as if they couldn’t see one another, while now you actually have actors forced to talk to characters who aren’t there but thanks to the magic of movies and CGI are easily placed later.