Criterion’s ‘GHOST WORLD’ release is the boo diggity


Preston Barta // Features Editor

Rated R, 111 minutes.
Available Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD through the Criterion Collection.

To go along with the release of MARTIN SCORSESE’S WOLRD CINEMA PROJECT NO. 2 is 2001’s GHOST WORLD, a mature and intelligent fiction film directed by Terry Zwigoff (BAD SANTA, CRUMB).

Based on a cult-classic comic by the film’s co-writer, Daniel Clowes (WILSON), GHOST WORLD paints a vivid portrait of two directionless teens (Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson) fresh out of high school who respond to a man’s (Steve Buscemi) newspaper ad as a gag, only to find that their lives are about to get more complicated.

GHOST WORLD is not the kind of comic adaptation you’re used to. It plays more as grounded hangout movie set during a simpler time. Elevated by its confident performances and thought-provoking themes about alienation and purpose, this Criterion release will have you singing its praises.

Grade: B+

Extras: The Criterion release includes an audio commentary featuring the filmmakers, new interviews with the cast, deleted scenes, a fancy booklet and an extended excerpt from 1965’s GUMNAAM featuring a Bollywood number that appears in the film’s opening title sequence.

Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch are Rebecca and Enid in ‘GHOST WORLD.’ Courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

All Special Features:

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by cowriter-director Terry Zwigoff, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary featuring Zwigoff, GHOST WORLD comic creator and film co-writer Daniel Clowes, and producer Lianne Halfon
  • New interviews with actors Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, and Illeana Douglas
  • Extended excerpt from GUMNAAM (1965) featuring the Bollywood number that appears in GHOST WORLD’s opening title sequence, with commentary
  • Deleted scenes
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Howard Hampton, a 2001 piece by Zwigoff on the film’s soundtrack, and reprinted excerpts from Clowes’s comic GHOST WORLD

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.