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

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Preston Barta // Features Editor

GHOST WORLD (2001)
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

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.