Bob is a wealthy, successful PR executive, with a beautiful wife Gail, who is pregnant with her first child. When Bob is given just a few months to live, he is forced to reevaluate his whole life's efforts and starts to make videos for his unborn son.
Ghost writer Bruce Joel Rubins first film as director is a relentlessly manipulative, shallow exercise in which Michael Keaton is first-rate as Bob, a successful, wisecracking PR executive no one particularly cares for, and a man seething with lifelong resentments towards his parents and brother.
Struck down with terminal cancer, he makes videotapes of his life, a legacy of paternal tips and heart-to-hearts for his soon-to-be-born son. In the course of committing himself to videotape Bob discovers that he doesn't really know himself at all, and that his life has been meaningless. Thus he, and we, with the help of his ever-serene wife (Kidman) soothing his fevered brow and his Chinese homeopath dispensing life wisdom with herbal teas, embark on a journey of self-discovery and spiritual healing.
Fortunately, Bob has wealth to ease his passage into the light, cover the cost of flights to family reconciliations and employ a private nurse in the lovely home where his unfulfilled wishes can be gratified while he gets in touch with his feelings and lets go of his fear. Rubin's philosophy of life and death, peculiar but charming in Ghost, complex and nightmarish in Jacob's Ladder (both of which he wrote) is further expounded here in all its crankiness, a blend of psychedelic bad dreams, wishes on stars and metaphysical hooey by way of a Californian religion combining Chinese fortune cookies and bad acid trips.
His direction is tidy and the humorous face of the film is pleasing enough, with Bob demonstrating on camera to his child a variety of things a fella ought to know how to cook spaghetti, how to shave, how to impress girls with one's musical taste, how to enter a room like Gary Grant but Rubin loses points particularly over his endless gooey shots of the newborn baby.
Anyone who has seen someone die is guaranteed to suffer some painful personal flashbacks while watching this, but for the amount of light relief and dubious soul succour Rubin offers in return, it's not a fair deal.