Casper, the friendly ghost, was a comic book character from the 1930s or 1940s. This 1995 film is the first feature theatrical release and remains the only one. It was produced by Steven Spielberg. The cast is anchored by Christina Ricci, Bill Pullman, Eric Idle, and Malachi Pearson as Casper. There are several other guest appearances made possible by Spielberg’s involvement.
Ricci plays Kat, whose father Dr. Harvey, Pullman, is hired to remove ghosts from a mansion on a cliffside in Maine. Dr. Harvey's method of removal is therapy to allow the ghosts to cross over by finishing their unfinished business. It is a bit of a novel approach for spectral films. Kat is her father’s daughter as she has a higher than average understanding of people and feelings for a twelve-year-old.
The film relies on a lot of practical effects, including a multi-story roller coaster that must have cost a small fortune to build. A lot of the mansion feels like a Disney World ride, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Casper and his three uncle ghosts are CGI. For a 25-year-old film, I felt that the CGI held up well. The interaction between live-action characters and the computer images they interacted with felt natural.
Casper is the most saccharine ghost I am aware of and this movie is touching. It does not have an in-depth exploration of death, but it does touch on love, loss, and memories. It is not as impactful as Coco, but I think it holds its own. It fits solidly in the lower portion of average movies and is perfect for around Halloween for the smallest children.