Rated: PG for obscenities, frightening images and discussion of death. Reviewed by: Chris Release date: May 26, 1995 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.
I have a sweet memory of Casper, The Friendly Ghost. The comics and cartoons starring the cute, little spirit with the chubby face and inquisitive big blue eyes was a favorite.
Casper's food-natured innocence remains in Sherri Stoner's and Deanna Oliver's script, but they've added a trio of spooky cutups, a lot of talk of death and dying and an unfortunate use of obscenities.
The film opens with a greedy pair (Cathy Moriarty and Eric Idle) hiring Dr. Harvey (Bill Pullman), a ghost therapist, to rid the mansion of Casper and his three pesky uncles. Casper, longing for a friend, is thrilled when the doctor and his daughter Kat (Christina Ricci, The Addams Family) move in.
What starts out as a fun comedy with a terrific set, turns downright bleak when Casper tells Kat how he died when he was 12 and she talks about her dead mother. To make things worse, it just so happens that Casper's father was an inventor and constructed a machine to bring the boy back to life (shades of Son of Frankenstein).
The best parts of the film are when Kat and Casper are together or when Kat and her dad are talking. The quiet, small scenes are the most effective.
Produced by Steven Spielberg, Casper is at times raucous and gloomy and other times, surprising and sweet. I prefer the latter and was disappointed to encounter the former in a family film.