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Genre: Family, comedy, fantasy
Directed by: Brad Silberling
Rated PG for mild language and thematic elements
In the small town of Friendship, Maine there exists an abandoned old house rumored to be haunted. The focus of much local attention, the old mansion has also been the object of entertainment for adolescents, years over. But this year the house and its not-so-mortal inhabitants will become more than an attraction for the 'ghost shrink' Dr. Harvey and his daughter Kat as they settle themselves into the Crittenden mansion prepared to embark on a spooky adventure of unpredictable twists and turns.
Slowly, as stealth as two teenage boys can be, they creep up to eerie Crittenden mansion in an attempt to fulfill the spooky dare demanded of their friends. With camera in hand, the boys are about to take a picture documenting their visit when suddenly a voice says; "I'll take the picture for you". Shortly thereafter the image of a rather small ghost appears, causing the two boys to run from the house, sans the camera, tails tucked and all.
Meanwhile news of a death of Mr. Crittenden spreads to Carrigan, Crittenden's daughter, who thinks she will be an heiress of fortune. However, to her dismay, she finds she was simply left title to the estate, i.e. the spooky mansion. Peeved, Carrigan and her assistant Dibbs head to the house to inspect their new inheritance. Once there, however, Carrigan becomes fully aware that she will not be the only inhabitant of the mansion. In a fit of panic Carrigan and Dibbs high tale off the property, determined not to return until it has been rid of its haunts.
Insistent on claiming her inheritance however, Carrigan enlists the services of mediums, spook hunters, and exorcists citywide, to no avail. It isn't until Carrigan's hotel TV begins to follow her around that she takes note of Dr. James Harvey, ghost shrink and therapist for the preoccupied dead. After Carrigan implores his services, Dr. Harvey and his daughter, Kat, head to Friendship, Maine in order to secure the old mansion and free it off its ghostly inhabitants. But the job will mean another move, and, another school for the two girls; something that Kat is steadily growing frustrated with. But she supports her father, whose entire business centers on the hope of finding his wife and mother-in-law through his practice. All nestled in, it is Kat who first sees Casper, who's affable character allows Kat to quickly make a new friend in the small town, dead or no.
But it is only a matter of time before Casper's odious uncles enter the picture: Stinky, Fatso, and Stretch. Getting a kick out of making one's hair stand on end, the devious trio set out to scare away the Harveys. But Dr. Harvey is intent on helping the ghosts 'cross over' and in so, decides to stay. Of course Dr. Harvey's services aren't without an interrogation of knowledge of his wife's whereabouts. But it seems that it is only with time that Dr. Harvey will be able to help both him and the ghosts of Carrigan mansion.
Meanwhile Kat's new residence has volunteered her services for the upcoming Halloween party. It is during her preparation for the big event that Kat discovers Casper's old playroom, which she cleans up as a pleasant surprise for her new friend. Back in his room, Casper's memory is triggered, revealing his dad's obsession with bringing Casper back to life. This prompts Casper to show Kat "The Lazarus", a crazy invention located beyond the path of a winding labyrinth and secret cave that holds the key to bringing Casper back to life. With just enough potion to bring one person back to human form, Casper wants to take it and attend Kat's party as her date.
But Carrigan and her sidekick Dibbs have spied on the innocent duo and steal the potion behind their backs. It isn't long until Carrigan and Dibbs are fighting over who will die to go in search of an alleged treasure, which thereafter, the finder would be brought back to life with the assistance of the potion. In a hilarious scene of avarice and murder, the two culprits chase each other around in an attempt to kill the other first. Carrigan finally falling, her treasure hunt renders nothing but a baseball glove and ball.
With a series of deceits, tricks, new friendships, and a sudden death of Dr Harvey, what precludes the evening of the Halloween party is nothing short but a climatic build up forcing Kat to eventually make a life-altering decision. Will or won't Casper's uncles help her, will or won't Dr. Harvey get to see his wife, and will or won't Casper be able to come back to life? Moreover, when the night is done, what will happen to Casper and his crazy uncles?
Done tastefully as an entertaining family film, "Casper" has just enough wit to the dialogue and action to the plot that render it entertaining for the elder members of the audience. Moreover the special effects are in sync with the film, nothing is overdone. Of course the core entertainment of the film focuses on the comedic relief of the three uncles; an overly gross, ghostly mimic of the late Three Stooges.
Memorable scenes are none other than those of when Carrigan and Dibbs try to outdo one another in their attempts to kill one another. Also, the adventure Kat and Casper embark on to discover 'The Lazarus' is rather entertaining; both for visual stimulation and for plot coherence. The movie isn't going to win any awards, but it will get a family together for an evening of laughter, surprise, and a few lessons on the bonds of familial love and friendship that run as the moral undertone to the film.
Dr. James Harvey, played by Bill Pullman, is the newly hired ghost shrink intent on helping spirits cross over wit an ulterior motive to help them find his deceased wife.
Kathleen 'Kat' Harvey, played by Christina Ricci, is the pragmatic teenager who befriends Casper during her stay in the Carrigan mansion.
Carrigan Crittenden, played by Cathy Moriarty, is the spoiled unthankful daughter of Mr. Carrigan and heiress of the Crittenden mansion.
Paul 'Dibbs' Plutzker, played by Eric Idle, is Carrigan's wily sidekick whose role as the 'clown', if you will, provides much comic relief.
Casper (McFadden, voice Malachi Pearson) (screen, Devon Sawa), the friendly ghost with a newfound attachment to his mortal friend Kat.
Stretch (voiced by Joe Nipote), Stinkie (voiced by Joe Alaskey), and Fatso (voiced by Brad Garrett) are the three tempestuously adorable uncles to Casper and wacky haunts of Crittenden mansion.