Just like Helen Hayes, Whoopi Goldberg single-handedly saved her movie from being a complete disaster. With one of the worst scripts ever (‘Oda Mae, where did all these ghosts come from?’) and extremely unsatisfying performances from the two leads, it was up to her to make the whole thing tolerable.
And in the part of Oda Mae, a woman who pretends to be able to see the dead only to discover that she can actually talk to them, Whoopi Goldberg certainly is a breath of fresh air every time she appears and uses her talent for comedy at every situation. Her first séance is already an early highlight (‘I see him. He’s wearing a black suite…could be blue.’) and later she gets a lot of laughs out of her awful material by doing the kind of comedy she is best at – loud and broad. So many of her line deliveries are certainly first-class (‘You wanna kiss my butt?’ or ‘Does it look like I’m talking to you? You know when I’m talking to you! You’re supposed to be concentrating, ain’t you?’ or ‘I’m no damn secretary!’) and she again and again proves that she is, without a single doubt, the best thing about Ghost.
Yes, I won’t deny that Whoopi Goldberg gives a performance that is very easy to love and it’s no wonder that the applause was loud and strong when she received her Oscar. It’s the kind of performance that dominates a whole movie and that is probably the only topic of conversation among the audience after the movie is finally over. So, I don’ t mind that she took home an Oscar for her work since she proves how effective comedy can be and she was able to let her performance work even within the context of Ghost – a comedic role like hers could easily have felt out of place but Whoopi Goldberg was luckily able to avoid this feeling.
Unfortunately, I still do have problems with her performance – on the one hand, it’s hard to deny how negligible her role and her performance are. Yes, she provides some laughs but it’s still hard to really admire her work here. I also think that, sometimes, she overdid the comedy in her performance. Too often she wrinkles up her face in too many weird positions that can certainly make the viewers at home laugh but that feel strangely out-of-place in the scenes she appears in – especially the scene at the bank. She’s certainly a hoot here but it’s simply too much at the wrong time – would somebody really give this woman 4 million Dollars, even if she did have identification?
Her later dramatic scenes also fall rather short and show that Whoopi Goldberg could only save the material she was given if she was able to play it for laughs – anything else seems too heavy-handed, even for her.
So, it’s maybe not a truly great performance but Whoopi Goldberg is a wonderful comic relief with some wonderful moments.