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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Oct 10: Casper


Oct 10: Casper

"A paranormal expert and his daughter bunk in an abandoned house populated by 3 mischievous ghosts and one friendly one."
Directed by: Brad Siberling, Rated: PG, 100 minutes

Have you ever watched a movie you loved as a kid, only to realize how inappropriately messed up it is once you see it again? Casper is one of those movies, blending all sorts of childish humor with so many innuendos  adult jokes, and death in the most peculiar little way. The film itself has held up pretty well but once you can understand particular parts of the movie, you feel more depressed than anything else. It's shocking that so many sad scenes and story bits could have been packed into a movie aimed for kids and not have Tim Burton written all over it. 

You were great once, Mr. B. What happened...?

Everyone knows who Casper the Friendly Ghost is. Originally popping up in the 1930s with the hopes of starring in his own set of children books, the rights to the cartoon was sold to Paramount Studios and the rest is history. Casper's starred in tons of cartoons and seems to pop up again in some form or another every Halloween. 1995 gave way to the first live-action version of the character. Casper follows Kat Harvey (Christina Ricci) and her father, James (Bill Pullman) who's a paranormal researcher who's called in to investigate an old house in Maine. Upon arriving, Kat befriends Casper, a 12 year old ghost who just wants to have a friend, as he's been living with his three ugly uncles (also ghosts) for hundreds of years. The rest of what plays out is the two bonding closer and closer, and Kat learning that Casper so desperately wants to become a human again. James is also dealing with the loss of his wife and struggling to raise Kat on his own. Throw in some other sub-plots involving the "new girl at school" and greedy business people and you get an oddly paced film.

These two's relationship is both awkward and inappropriate, yet cute at the same time. 

Casper is not an awful film but it's very, very flawed. Of course, with any kids movie you'll find horrible pacing, with everything moving along really quickly and awkwardly. The movie jumps from gross out humor to depressing death references almost constantly and ends up feeling more bi-polar than anything else. It's almost as though the writers felt guilty after coming up with all the sad stuff that they threw in a bunch of childish jokes to change the mood. If you really focus in on a large portion of the story, you'll realize it's utterly depressing, with a ghost child wanting to be alive again and a family torn apart after the loss of the mother. Casper just brushes on these points, too afraid to really embrace them, but the moments that highlight the sad make you feel like shit. Even then though, the performances are much better than what you'd find in this variety of film and the young Christina Ricci reminds you that she was much more than just a child actor. Bill Pullman is also great as James, mixing a bit of his nerdy self with the paternal charm you'd expect from him. The voice work is also great with each actor voicing the trio of ghost uncles fitting the roles brilliantly (Brad Garrett is Fatso). Casper also has a very haunting, yet memorable, score written by James Horner as well as great art direction and a solid use of practical effects.

Apparition ancestry is always the worst...(so is poorly used alliteration)

I'd recommend Casper just because the revisiting of it will disturb and entertain you. It's really surprising how bleak the movie really is and how the younger versions of all of us didn't take notice. I'd throw it in with Hocus Pocus as two great Halloween movies to see again after you're all "growed up". It's an easy watch, it's nostalgic, and it's much better than half of the kids movies that come out these days. And if you find yourself hating your life after seeing it, write about it in my Most F**ked Up Movies I've Ever Seen Blogathon. Yes, I couldn't figure out any other way to wrap this up so I plugged my own event. 

The Good:
it's fun (at times) and is a pretty faithful adaptation of the beloved cartoon
The Bad:
awful pacing with very little plot, chugging along just because it has to fill a 90 minute run-time
The Ugly:
it's sad... very, very sad

Overall: 6.4/10


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At October 10, 2012 at 6:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should of mentioned the Ghostbuster Cameo!

At October 10, 2012 at 6:51 PM , Blogger Nick said...

It's so minor! lol.

At October 10, 2012 at 9:33 PM , Blogger Ries said...

This was a very sad film. It really caught me off guard when I revisited it this year, so I agree with you there.

At October 10, 2012 at 9:34 PM , Blogger Nick said...

It's shocking how sad it is... then the humor's attempt to wash it away is equally sad lol

At October 10, 2012 at 11:27 PM , Blogger alienxphile said...

Holy crap! I HATE this movie! I have only seen it once all the way through. SO SO boring!!! 0.5/10.0

At October 10, 2012 at 11:28 PM , Blogger Nick said...

A lot of hate lol.

At October 25, 2012 at 12:51 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear christina ricci meet casper
Wow That Was Nice To You . You are Good Christina Ricci Nice You Happy Halloween Thanks SO Much Write to Me .

At October 25, 2012 at 10:26 AM , Blogger Nick said...



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