Of the massive swath of kids movies that came out in the '90s, Casper stands out. The movie's story is cute without being too sentimental and its characters are likable. It also doesn't shy away from truly sticky topics like bullying and death. Considering most kids' movies try to avoid such issues, that's an achievement in and of itself.
Casper the Friendly Ghost is a warm, lovable family movie with impressive special effects. Its blending of live action and computer-generated characters makes it a groundbreaking film for its time. The movie also features a stunning soundtrack composed by James Horner. Although he would go on to write many more acclaimed soundtracks, such as Apollo 13 and Braveheart, his theme for this movie remains one of his best.
The movie centers on Casper, who resides at the abandoned Whipstaff Manor with his three rowdy ghost uncles Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso. When a paranormal expert and his daughter, Kat, move into the manor to communicate with ghosts, Casper develops a crush on her. The movie is a fun and entertaining adventure for children, but parents may be concerned about some of the movie's more sappy scenes. The movie may also be upsetting for viewers who are Christian due to its casual attitude towards death. It also contains a few curse words and crude references.
Amid Hollywood's mania for literalizing old cartoons, Casper is a rare example of a live-action kids movie that's actually pretty charming. And, despite its skew toward the low-to-mid single digits, there's plenty to interest adults too.
Christina Ricci's spirited Kat is a sweetly appealing blend of vulnerability and strength, and her chemistry with the friendly ghost holds up well today. Bill Pullman is also excellent as the therapist who moves into Kat's house, and his genuine interactions with both Casper and Kat give the film its emotional center.
But perhaps the biggest selling point is the movie's impressive special effects. The seamless integration of human actors and computer-generated ghosts is a landmark achievement for its time. And, while the film's pacing may lag a bit and its theme of death get a little mawkish, there's still something about Casper that lingers in the heart. For kids especially, it's a delightfully creepy ghost tale. For adults, it's a reminder of a simpler, less frenetic era in kids movies.
Casper is one of the rare 123movies that's managed to stand the test of time. Twenty-five years later, the film still holds up well, thanks to a nice balance of what audiences expect from kids movies and more thematic material. The special effects don't try too hard for realism, opting instead for a more clear-cut toon style. This allows the live-action actors to interact with them without making the whole thing look too dated.
The plot centers around a lonely ghost named Casper who lives in an old mansion with his three mischievous ghost uncles, Stretch, Stinkie, and Fatso. When a paranormal expert named Dr. Harvey and his daughter Kat move into the house, they befriend the ghosts. This movie's charm lies in its heartwarming story of friendship, acceptance, and the power of kindness. The movie will appeal to tweens and teens, who will find the comedy entertaining. However, adults may be slightly put off by the more mawkish scenes and trite dialog.
The animation is very clear and cartoony, and it does hold up well over time. Unlike digital effects that strive for realism, Casper’s ghosts are deliberately quaint and silly. This works perfectly for this character and his three mischievous ghost uncles (Stretch, Stinkie, and Fatso).
Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci both turn in solid performances here. Ricci’s adopted kooky persona fits the part well, and she seems very natural in her scenes with the ghosts. Pullman is blundering and lovable as the ghost therapist, Dr. Harvey, and his interactions with Kat are quite endearing.
Some parents may be disturbed by the death of the mother in this movie, and young children might find the antics of Casper’s uncles scary. But the movie teaches important lessons about kindness and friendship, which are timeless. The whole film is a lot of fun, and it can even make you cry! This is a great movie for all ages.