Saturday, 29 November 2008

Casper


Casper; Fantasy comedy, USA, 1995; D: Brad Silbering, S: Christina Ricci, Bill Pullman, Malachi Pearson (voice), Cathy Moriarty, Eric Idle, Jessica Wesson, Dan Aykroyd

The spoiled Carrigan is angry because her deceased rich father left her only with the old Whipstaff Manor, yet when her assistant Dibs discovers a treasure is hidden in the old house, they quickly rush to search for it. Yet, there they find a new obstacle: the house is haunted by four ghosts; the friendly Casper and his three mean uncles Stretch, Stinky and Fatso. To get rid of them, Carrigan hires a psychiatrist for the ghosts, Dr. Harvey and his teenage daughter Kat. They settle in the old house and Harvey hopelessly tries to conduct psychoanalysis on the three mean ghosts. Carrigan and Dobs kill each other, while Casper uses the Lazarus machine to revive Harvey who accidentally died. At the party, Casper becomes a human for a short time and kisses Kat while Harvey's dead wife Amelia visits him as an angel.

Family film "Casper" achieved it's goal as a huge commercial success, but unfortunately, as a movie, it's a disappointment: the story quickly falls apart and takes on so many bizarre ideas and turns that every new questionable subplot (like the Lazarus machine) that could go wrong, does, while the mechanical emotions and the themes of death seem very heavy handed. The beginning is actually good and has potentials, especially when the friendly ghost Casper is watching television where Dr. Harvey is on, a psychiatrist for ghosts who doesn't like to call them ghosts but "living disabled", while Christina Ricci stands out with ease as his independent teenage daughter Kat throughout the film. The finale is also honestly touching and has to be given credit, but the whole middle part of the film involving the misguided Carrigan and the annoying 'ghostly trio' Stretch, Stinky and Fatso is a disaster: the rubbish the authors try to pass as "gags" is terrible, and the mean-spirited humor kills every spirit is some scenes. Considering it was based on a cartoon for kids, "Casper" is awfully stiff and inappropriate. All in all, it's just another deformed comic book adaptation. Still, one joke at the beginning is simply too genius to not get mentioned: Carrigan unsuccessfully hires a few ghost exterminators to get rid of the pesky ghosts in the old house, and one of them is a small cameo by Dan Aykroyd who reprises his role as Ray Stantz carrying his proton pack, saying, before he runs away: "Who you gonna call? Someone else!"

Grade:+

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