Lacking wit and originality, We Have a Ghost is a disappointing waste of the considerable talent involved in the project.
Starring: David Harbour, Jahi Winston, Tig Notaro, Jennifer Coolidge, and Anthony Mackie
Written and directed by: Christopher Landon
Tagline: Set your spirit free.
We Have a Ghost has what would appear to be many of the right ingredients for an entertaining film.
The supernatural comedy has a talented cast that includes the likes of David Harbour, Anthony Mackie, Tig Notaro, and even features a briefish appearance by Jennifer Coolidge (who is having quite a moment thanks to The White Lotus). Its concept – a family moves into a house that already has an occupant: a ghost (Harbour) – isn’t entirely without potential. And at the project’s helm is Christopher Landon, who has previously worked on the Paranormal Activity franchise and the very enjoyable Happy Death Day series.
But while its pieces may seem impressive, they unfortunately don’t come together with the kind of flourish that you would have hoped for.
The problem? Its screenplay. A sprawling, inconsistent, cliched, and sometimes even downright nonsensical screenplay.
Instead of finding an inventive core or allowing the story to explore the inherent darkness of the premise, Landon sticks to well-worn, surface level ideas and pulls the narrative in too many directions. There’s the viral fame that befalls the family after they upload a video of the apparition they encounter in their new home, the rift between the selfish father (Mackie) and the caring son (Jahi Winston), the CIA that shows up to capture the ghost, the mystery behind the spectre’s presence and past...
There is a whole lot of trope mashup and bland drama instead of an engaging, exciting adventure. It’s like E.T. but with a ghost and without the filmmaking finesse. And it’s all wrapped in ineffective choices – like having a main character who isn’t able to speak (even though giving him the ability to talk might actually help us connect with the character and become more invested in the tale) – and unnecessary detours instead of looking into solid ideas with depth.
Had the filmmaker come up with a genuinely funny and touching script or used the concept to explore demons both internal and external, human and supernatural, We Have a Ghost could have made an emotional mark. As it stands, the movie is just like its title: generic, overlong, dull, uninspired, and entirely unmemorable.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection