Heroes of the Zeroes: Ghost World
Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.
Supposed invincibility to conformist bullshit is part of being a teenager, where deadpan snark is worth a merit badge. But others’ opinions can live rent-free in even the most rebellious loner’s head, no matter how indestructible their sarcasm shield might seem. Man cannot live on hip disaffection alone.
Teen films rarely tackle loneliness as lyrically as 2001’s “Ghost World,” Terry Zwigoff’s directorial debut on a fictional film. It wincingly realized moments when it feels like life’s options are to capitulate or carry on alone and understood there are no age restrictions to the tedium of a weekend night in.
Sounds like a bummer, but “Ghost World” balances its bitterness with acerbic wit, pitch-black satire, colorful kitsch and sublime fringe characters. (Dave Sheridan has gone his entire career without being as funny as in his two minutes as mullet-head Doug, willing to forcefully defend his favorite convenience store.)
Enid (Thora Birch, never better) is an apathetic, artistic high-school graduate for whom a creepy prank — played on aged-hobbyist hermit Seymour (Steve Buscemi) — becomes a touching bond. Meanwhile, her long friendship with Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) slowly fades as their paths into the future diverge.
Like “Rushmore” with a female slant, “Ghost World” tackled the true torches we often keep to ourselves as well as the struggle of feeling like a specter, or, as Enid says, as though “everyone’s too stupid to realize you.” Sometimes we grow out of it, sometimes we don’t, and the movie’s “THE END” tag after Enid’s impulsive final decision felt neither freeing nor condemning.