“Ghost Team” is little more than a feature-length “Scooby-Doo” episode. Yet in this paranormal adventure comedy from director Oliver Irving (“How to Be”) and writer Peter Warren, there are flashes of a more somber film about the melancholy of the minimum-wage worker.
Louis (Jon Heder from “Napoleon Dynamite”) works at a copy and print shop in a Long Island strip mall. His best friend, Stan (David Krumholtz), thinks his fiancee was abducted by aliens. Why else would she have left him at the altar?
Obsessed with the cable show “Ghost Getters” (a generic version of “Ghost Hunters”), the friends hope to audition for the program by documenting their own ghost hunt. When a client at the print shop asks for “No Trespassing” signs for a decrepit barn that he thinks might be haunted, Louis puts together a team of investigators, including a mall cop (Justin Long) and a television psychic (Amy Sedaris).
The film marks the passage of time by showing a sequence of photocopied lost-pet flyers, and a montage depicting Louis at the bar he frequents. These repetitive images suggests that Louis himself is barely alive, stuck in the same sort of limbo that, in ghost lore, keeps the spirits of the dead trapped among the living. Indeed, when the ghost team comes together, Stan remarks that he has never felt so alive.
As the paranormal investigation intensifies — later becoming a criminal investigation — the movie falters, although it never completely loses sight of its marginalized characters. “We may not be leading large lives here,” says Louis’s friend, Ellie (Melonie Diaz), “but that doesn’t make us small people.” That sentiment represents, in a nutshell, the spirit of indie drama trapped inside this supernatural comedy.
“Ghost Team” should have spent more time with its big-hearted living characters instead of chasing after dead ones.
PG-13. At the Angelika Pop-up at Union Market. Contains strong language, violence and drug references. 83 minutes.