By: Amanda Guarragi
When dealing with spirits, many people are afraid of the unknown. Instead of trying to understand the entity before them, they become hysterical and run away. In We Have A Ghost, the Presley family, specifically Kevin (Jahi Di’Allo Winston), embraces the ghost named Ernest (David Harbour) living in their attic and successfully capitalizes on social media views to bring in desperately needed money. It all comes down to a father’s connection with their kids and how two different men try to fix their past mistakes by working through their issues together. Since Kevin’s relationship with his father, Frank (Anthony Mackie), he gets closer to Ernest because he is vulnerable with him. They confide in each other, and he wants to help Ernest break free.
Writer-director Christopher Landon did write a heartfelt story. It’s about fathers correcting their mistakes as a man first while trying to be good fathers to their children. It explores fatherhood and the hardships they face while mending their own heart for them to have a stronger connection with their children. Ernest and Frank have two different stories, but the meaning is there when resolving family issues. The opening quickly set up that there is a ghost in the house differently as the viewer is watching from the outside of the house. The family runs out of the house and into the car as they leave in the middle of the night. Usually, there would be flashbacks, but in this case, it’s short and simple to get to the point.
Kevin was the only one who went against his father because he could see that his father tried too many times to win them over. Frank made the same mistakes because he wanted to make money quickly and never thought about the long term. Kevin feels isolated and alone because he has to adjust to another environment and finds comfort with Ernest. Once social media became involved in this storyline, it felt jumbled because every social platform keeps growing. And they also integrated the Gen Z language to appeal to younger viewers who watch this film. On top of that, the CIA got involved with Tig Notaro, who plays a scientist, and Ernest became a threat to national security. Many aspects of this film are added to market to a demographic, and the sentimental nature of the film gets lost in excess.
We Have A Ghost has a heartfelt story lost in the craziness of the supernatural elements surrounding the Presley family. Unfortunately, the jokes don’t always land. And there is very little chemistry between the family. Mackie’s charisma can’t hold this film together, and even David Harbour’s presence is wasted as the mute ghost. Some missteps don’t make this film as engaging to watch when it could have been a fun family movie with a mystery to solve. Christopher Landon had a sentimental story until the CIA involvement, and then it got away from him. The third act had to tie up all the loose ends. It then made the final moments with Ernest underwhelming because the story kept shifting focus.