Directed by Brad Silberling (no, I hadn't heard of him either) and bearing the tag of Steven Spielberg under the banner of Executive Producer, comes this ghostly children's movie from the mid-90's. The tale revolves around Whipstaff Manor, which is left to the greedy Carrigan Crittenden (Cathy Moriarty) in her father's will. Carrigan is disgusted by her pitiful inheritance until the deed to the manor is revealed by her sidekick (played by Eric Idle) to contain some invisible writing which tells of buried treasure hidden in the depths of Whipstaff. But of course she can't find the treasure, as the house itself is haunted by a friendly little ghost called Casper and his three mischievous uncles; namely Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso.
Enter ghost psychiatrist Dr James Harvey (Bill Pullman) with daughter Kat in tow (a young Christina Ricci), hired by Carrigan to rid the house of the ghosts once and for all. Of course, it's not long before Fatso, Stretch and Stinkie are causing havoc and picking on the new residents whilst bullying the lonely little Casper, and much to the chagrin of the impatient Carrigan, things don't seem to be running smoothly as the uncles seem to get the better of anyone they come across...
Casper is a real mix of a movie. At heart it's a kids movie, with a script hammier than a shoulder of honey-smoked from Tesco's, but with some serious adult themes lying beneath. Bereavement is dealt with - albeit briefly - as is loneliness and friendship, and it's thrown together in a mix of laughs and jokes that for much of the time works in an entertaining way. The movie belongs not to the friendly ghost himself, but to the 3 uncles, who certainly get the best lines and actually serve to hold the entire movie together. It's patchy in places, for the plot is a little hit and miss, some scenes are a little too slapstick and the ending is sickly-sweet and cloying (but it'll also have many biting back the tears), but overall this is a harmless piece of fun that the kids will love, and you'll likely find yourself enjoying.
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