What we have here is We Have A Ghost, the newest supernatural dramedy to come down the Netflix pike. The trailers will paint this as a rollicking comedy with a kid and his ghost buddy taking both the internet and real world by storm. And part of it is. But too much of the movie time (over two hours. Hollywood, stop doing this. Please.) is spent on developing characters that we don’t care about, plot holes and montages that raise more questions than they answer, and more of that “fake woke” nonsense that’s supposed to pass for humor, I think?
Before the title card even shows up, we see a family getting spooked by something, leaving the house and apparently never coming back. Who are they? Where did they go? We’ll never know. I think it was supposed to be some throwaway gag about how people should get the hell outta dodge at the first sign of paranormal activity. Ten years later, the house is back on the market and is bought by a family moving to town for a “fresh start.” From where? For what reason? We’ll never know.
We’re soon introduced to angsty Gen Z’er Kevin, a kid who loves listening to Classic Rock and noodling on his guitar. It’s clear from the outset that he and his father Frank don’t get along. From what few bread crumbs the movie gives us, we learn that Frank is the type of guy who never passes up an op to make some quick money, and for whatever reason, Frank’s eyeballs turn into green dollar signs when he finds out they have a ghost.
Frank makes a huge deal about this being the first real-live/dead ghost in the history of ever. Okay. In this world, are ghosts and the dozens upon dozens of ghost-hunting shows not a part of everyday life? They show us that the movie Ghost exists, but what about Ghostbusters? Casper? Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? Scooby-Doo, even? It’s also established that fake psychics and mediums are a thing in this world (Jennifer Coolidge earns her paycheck with a by-the-numbers performance that’s heavy on the Theresa Caputo with a Bert Lahr finish.), so it’s unclear why this particular “ghost” captures everybody’s attention. Okay, maybe not everybody; there’s a throng of about a hundred people outside the house at any given time. Maybe that was all the extras they could afford after paying Jennifer Coolidge.
Anyway, “Ernest” the ghost is a sensation with everyone. In a going viral montage, many current social media tropes are made fun of (TikTok and YouTube get called out by name) with people running into walls like Ernest runs through them. It’s difficult to tell if it’s satire or they want us to believe that people are this stupid; it could go either way. As for the ghost in question? he’s a middle-aged, average build guy whose combover fights him for attention in every scene. But women can’t stop professing their adoration for this Barney Rubble/Archie Bunker hybrid. One YouTube comment reads, “Is it me, or is Ernest super-hot?”
Being a ghost and all, the things that Ernest can and can’t do change invariably whenever the plot calls for it. For instance, Ernest can’t speak; he can only moan ghostily. Doesn’t it take vocal cords to moan? Just moan while forming your lips into words. If he can write on a foggy window with his finger, give him a iPad or something to write stuff down. Humans can’t touch him unless they’re related to him? I think that’s why his alive daughter is able to touch and embrace her dead daddy? He can float, turn invisible and walk through stuff as most ghosts do, but he still needs to sit in a car to get across town?
There’s a mystery surrounding Ernest’s demise that Ernest can’t help solve, because he can’t remember anything, until certain plot contrivances pop up to jog his memory. Kevin enlists the help of his ultra-annoying classmate and neighbor Joy, who’s something of a walking, talking Macguffin who can get Kevin all the info he wants with just a few keystrokes. Because all trombonists are computer geniuses, natch. She takes up precious time throughout the movie to spout some rhetoric about race and gender norms and let me tell ya, the Velma vibes are coming through too strong for my liking. We’re introduced to her in the boys’ bathroom painting over some racist graffiti. (Um, why not alert the faculty and have them analyze everyone’s handwriting to find the culprit? Here, there’s another movie idea for you; no charge.) She needs Kevin to guard the door while she covers up the graffiti, then later in the film she barges into the boys’ room and shames a peeing guy into leaving. She talks about wanting to be a ghost herself; fine by me. She doesn’t die, though, and the budding romance between her and Kevin is another twenty minutes or so that should have been trimmed.
Other characters include Kevin’s mom Melanie who’s just kinda there, and Kevin’s older brother Fulton, who I think is in college on some kind of scholarship (because the family’s broke. Fulton’s got a sweet-ass Dodge Charger, Frank wears $900 Gucci polo shirts; everybody’s adorned with gold in their ears and around their necks. But they’re too broke to afford a lawyer.), who simply shrugs when Kevin takes his car and smashes it up while running from the CIA (?!?).
Yep, that’s a thing that happens in this movie too. Just when you’re ready for this turkey to pull into the station, a plot erupts about the CIA raiding the haunted house and capturing Ernest. To do what? Ernest was just chillin’ in an abandoned house, not remembering anything, then started chillin’ with Kevin after they moved in. Why should anyone outside of the house give a crap? And just when we’ve had enough of the wacky ghost shenanigans and are ready for things to wrap up, the film grinds to another halt so that Frank can tell Kevin and us that Kevin is the greatest teenager who has ever, or will ever exist.
More filler includes, but is not limited to a murder mystery where we find out Ernest isn’t even Ernest’s real name; An E.T./Ghostbusters subplot that lands Ernest in some gov’t facility where he connects with the lady who put him in there, so she can help break him out; To say this movie is all over the place is an understatment. Tonal shifts are abrupt enough to inflict whiplash.
Among a network that’s replete with time-waster movies, is We Have A 👻 a worthwhile time-waster? Nah, son; everything in this movie has been done better in most of the movies this one borrows from. One and a half out of five stars.