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Ghost: Special Edition

The guy behind Airplane! and the hunka-hunka burnin' love who saved Baby from the corner in Dirty Dancing might not seem like the most plausible pair when it comes to directing and starring in a poignant, otherworldy romantic drama. But in Ghost, it works. In the 1990 box-office smash, director Jerry Zucker led pretty boy Patrick Swayze to a performance that's still the high point of his career. The star of such basic-cable staples as Dancing and Road House does an impressive turn as Sam Wheat, a successful banker gunned down in a seemingly random act of violence. Once he becomes the titular ghost, Sam ends up postponing heaven for the chance to say goodbye to his artist girlfriend (Demi Moore) and discover the truth behind his death — with the help of a fast-talking psychic (Whoopi Goldberg, in an Oscar-winning performance). In a role that often requires him to react more than act, Swayze conveys worlds of emotion with his expressions, which range from clenched-jaw rage and betrayal to puppy dog-eyed love and devotion. (It's not exactly subtle, but neither is the movie.) Moore also gives a strong performance as the broken-hearted Molly, who desperately wants to believe that Sam has come back to her, and Goldberg contributes most of the film's humor — her one-liners are a nice break from the movie's sometimes-maudlin tone. Rounding out the cast is Tony Goldwyn as Sam's best friend, Carl, who ends up being a lot more than he seems. Despite some seriously cheesy special effects (really, who thought it would be a good idea for the evil shadow spirits to groan like Muppets with gas?), Ghost succeeds as both a whodunit and a delightfully sappy story of true love — it's a chick flick that most guys won't mind watching (and not just for that scene with Demi covered in clay...). Ghost plays well on Paramount's DVD, which arrives as a "Special Collector's Edition" in its second release — the anamorphic transfer is bright and clear, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack does the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" proud. Returning from the original DVD is the full-length commentary by Zucker and writer/producer Bruce Joel Rubin (who's quite a chatty fellow), while new featurettes include "Ghost Stories: The Making of a Classic" (13 min.), "Inside the Paranormal" (8 min.), "Anatomy of a Love Scene" (6 min.), and "Cinema's Great Romances" (19 min.), as well as a theatrical trailer, stills, and previews for other Paramount titles. However, not included this time is the featurette "Remembering the Magic," which ran 22 minutes on the original disc. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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