I think the movie poster sums it up, quite well. You pretty much know what to expect, going into a movie directed by Terry Zwigoff, and written by graphic novelist Daniel Clowes. It’s going to be a bit negative, a bit sarcastic, a bit uncomfortable, and funny in the absolute best way.
Ghost World begins with our jaded hero Enid (Thora Birch), and her best friend Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson– in what I consider her first real starring role, preceding Lost In Translation) at their high school graduation, and feeling very pessimistic about what to do next, other than get shitty jobs and get an apartment together, in the Los Angeles suburbs. Enid finds out after the ceremony that she needs to enroll in a summer school art class before fully receiving her diploma, which makes her even more jaded. They stumble upon a personal ad while at a diner, that a desperate guy named Seymour wrote, hoping to find a woman he believed he shared a moment with, on the subway. Enid responds to the ad, telling this loser (Steve Buscemi) to meet her at the trendy 50s diner, “Wowsville.” He shows up, and Enid and Rebecca just spy on him from another part of the diner, making him think that the woman from the ad stood him up.
Enid & Rebecca then follow him home, and realize he’s more of a geek/loser than they initially thought (his main hobby is collecting old 78rpm ragtime/bluegrass records). A few days later, 18-year old Enid actually becomes friends with 40-something Seymour, bonding a little bit over an old blues record she bought from Seymour’s weekly garage sale. They then embark on several weird (and hilarious) adventures, and have friendly debates about life (Seymour being a true pessimist and cynic, and Enid, while pessimistic herself, gives Seymour a little hope, in her naive world view and opinions). Enid’s growing friendship with (or morbid curiosity of) Seymour eventually causes a strain in her friendship with Rebecca, and may also jeopardize her future in getting into a good art school.
Supported by a great cast (the late, great Brad Renfro, the always charismatic Illiana Douglas, and the legendary Bob Ballaban from Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Ghost World is definitely a movie not to be ignored…. and let me just say, the Cambodian dance routine video that opens the film is something that sets the mood for the entire movie: it’s weird as hell, quirky, and immediately engaging….. and then, there’s the film that immediately follows. Don’t sleep on it!!!