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Casper

Casper poster
Directed by Brad Silberling
Animation:
Phil Nibbelink
Eric Armstrong
Produced by Colin Wilson
Steven Spielberg (executive producer)
Written by Sherri Stoner
Deanna Oliver
Characters:
Joseph Oriolo
Starring Christina Ricci
Bill Pullman
Malachi Pearson
Cathy Moriarty
Eric Idle
Devon Sawa
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Dean Cundey
Editing by Michael Kahn
Studio Amblin Entertainment
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release date(s) May 26, 1995
Running time 100 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $55,000,000
Gross revenue $287,928,194
Followed by Casper: A Spirited Beginning

Casper is a 1995 family feature film starring Christina Ricci and Bill Pullman and based on the Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoons and comic strips. The ghosts featured in the film were created through computer-generated imagery. The film was merely distributed by Universal, and as such, Universal still owns the rights to the film. This film and its prequel Casper Meets Wendy were the only Casper films not sold to Classic Media.

Contents

Plot

The movie begins with two boys Nicky (Chauncey Leopardi) & Andreas (Spencer Vrooman) sneaking into the old, run-down manor of Whipstaff as part of a dare. They attempt to take a picture of themselves as proof, however they soon run into Casper (voice of Malachi Pearson) a ghost, heard off-screen, and are frightened away.

Meanwhile, Carrigan Crittenden (Cathy Moriarty) is furious to learn from her late father's lawyer Mr. Rugg (Ben Stein) that she has only inherited the manor in her father's will, rather than anything of significant value. Infuriated, she tosses the will and deed into a fireplace but it is rescued by her attorney and close associate Paul "Dibs" Plutzker (Eric Idle). Dibs discovers one of the will's pages has an inscription on it describing treasure hidden in the manor.

Carrigan and Dibs visit the old manor, but find it is haunted by four ghosts: Casper (voice of Malachi Pearson), a friendly but lonely young ghost who tries to befriend them but warns them not to scream and his three obnoxious uncles known as the Ghostly Trio: Stretch (voice of Joe Nipote) the subliminal leader who loves to be wise towards others and hates mortals, Stinkie (voice of Joe Alaskey) a ghost who has buck-teeth and is most likely deceased because of mouth cancer or gingavitis for he has putrid breath, and Fatso (voice of Brad Garrett) an increddibly fat ghost who is idiotic, selfish and always hungry wake up and haunt the two for a minimal amount of time. The two make several attempts to remove these spirits, but despite the efforts of Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello), Ghostbuster Dr. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and a demolition crew, they are unsuccessful.

Casper, who longs for a friend, watches a news report about a therapist to the dead, Dr. James Harvey (Bill Pullman). His daughter Kat (Christina Ricci) (short for Kathleen), is seen on television and Casper instantly falls for her. Casper uses his ghostly powers to play the news report to Carrigan, who decides to contact Dr. Harvey.

Dr. Harvey and Kat travel to Friendship, Maine where the manor is located. Their conversation reveal that Kat and her father have been traveling around the country for years, in search of the spirit of Dr. Harvey's deceased wife Amelia. Carrigan and Dibs meet them at the manor, Carrigan ordering Dr. Harvey to remove the ghosts as quickly as possible. However, things are complicated when Kat and her father meet the ghosts face-to-face; despite Casper's best efforts to befriend them, the two are terrified by both his appearance and the antics of the Ghostly Trio. They choose not to leave, however, and they stay for the night.

The next day, Casper and Kat become friends properly. Kat goes to her high school for her first day, meeting Vic DePhillippi (Garette Ratliff Henson) and his pompous girlfriend Amber Whitmire (Jessica Wesson). When Kat reveals to her new classmates that she lives in Whipstaff, her classmates vote to have their upcoming Halloween dance there instead of at the Whitmire residence (much to Amber's anger). Back at the manor, Dr. Harvey reveals his goals to the Ghostly Trio who take a liking to him.

After Kat pleads with her father to make sure the Ghostly Trio don't crash the Halloween party, he tricks them into leaving the house - although he doesn't anticipate their method, which involves going on a drinking binge. With the Ghostly Trio out of the house, Carrigan and Dibs are able to enter and start searching the house for the treasure

Kat finds Casper's old toy room in the attic and Casper remembers his past life in Belle Époque, including his own death from a fatal illness (probably pneumonia) he received as the result of staying out too late in the cold to play with his brand new sled. Casper's father attempted to revive him by building a machine called the Lazarus, which is supposed to bring dead people back to life. Casper remembers its location and takes Kat to it via a secret passage leading to an underground laboratory. Carrigan and Dibs follow, learning that a special formula is used to run the machine. This formula has the power to bring ghosts back to life, but now there is only enough for one. Realizing this one opportunity to come back to life, Casper turns on the Lazarus and steps inside. Unfortunately, the formula is stolen by Carrigan and Casper is left disappointed. With the formula in hand, Carrigan and Dibs realize that, as ghosts, they would be able to fly through thick solid walls to retrieve the treasure, which is locked in a vault inside the underground lab, and then use the machine to come back to life. Unable to decide who should die, the two attempt to kill each other, resulting in Carrigan falling off of a cliff.

Meanwhile, Dr Harvey and the Ghostly Trio are out drinking, and Dr Harvey has become rather intoxicated. The Ghostly Trio decide to kill him in order to turn him into a ghost - not out of malice, but so that they can be a Ghostly Quartet, and in the belief that he will be happier that way. However, Dr Harvey suddenly tells them that they're friends, and he's not going to try to get them out of the house if they don't want to leave. Touched, the Trio find themselves incapable of killing him. Unfortunately, the intoxicated Dr Harvey backs into an open manhole and falls to his death.

Back at the house, Carrigan, who is now a ghost, steals the treasure chest from the manor's vault and orders Dibs to revive her, but he refuses and she throws him out of the window. Casper and Kathleen trick Carrigan into deciding she has no unfinished business, causing her to pass onto the afterlife against her will. With Carrigan and Dibs now gone, Casper reveals that his treasure wouldn't have been valuable to Carrigan anyway, because it turns out to be a baseball autographed by Casper's favorite Brooklyn Dodgers player, Duke Snider.

Just as Casper is about to use the machine to revive himself, Dr. Harvey shows up as a ghost, accompanied by the Ghostly Trio. He has already forgotten his previous life. But Kat manages to remind him (using the pinky swear), and Dr Harvey realizes that he has died and left his daughter behind without a father. Realizing that Kat needs her father alive, Casper uses the Lazarus machine to revive him, giving up his own chance of returning back to life. The Halloween party begins while Casper sits alone in his room, alone and disappointed. Suddenly, he is visited by Amelia Harvey (Amy Brenneman) Kat's deceased mom, who is now an angel. Amelia rewards Casper for his noble act by temporarily reviving him for one night, until 10pm. Meanwhile, at the party, Kat ends up being the only person without a partner. But then a boy (played by Devon Sawa) appears before her and they dance. He soon reveals himself to be Casper and they embrace. Dr. Harvey is then visited by Amelia as well, who advises him on being a good father for their daughter, and then returns to the afterlife. At the final stroke of 10, Amelia disappears and Casper and Kat kiss just as Casper turns back into a ghost, scaring all the Halloween Party guests away. The Ghostly Trio then start playing a rock and roll version of 'Casper the Friendly Ghost' and Kat, Casper and Dr. Harvey dance around the hall.

Cast

Actor Role
Christina Ricci Kathleen 'Kat' Harvey
Malachi Pearson Casper (voice)
Bill Pullman Dr. James Harvey (and voice as a ghost)
Cathy Moriarty Carrigan Crittenden (and voice as a ghost)
Eric Idle Paul 'Dibbs' Plutzker
Joe Nipote Stretch (voice)
Joe Alaskey Stinkie (voice)
Brad Garrett Fatso (voice)
Amy Brenneman Amelia Harvey
Devon Sawa Casper (in human form)
Dan Aykroyd Dr. Ray Stanz (Cameo)
Mel Gibson Dr. James Harvey (Cameo when reflection changes)
Rodney Dangerfield Dr. James Harvey (Cameo when reflection changes)
Clint Eastwood Dr. James Harvey (Cameo when reflection changes)

Reception

The film received mixed reviews overall but earned some noteworthy praise. Time Out London described it as "an intimate and likeable film".[1] Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars, calling it a "technical achievement, it's impressive, and entertaining. And there is even a little winsome philosophy."[2] The CGI effects, which were cutting edge at the time, and the performances of Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci were praised, especially considering that, in the scenes where the Harveys interact with the ghosts, Pullman and Ricci were actually acting either with nothing or with stand-in maquettes used as animators' references.

Cathy Moriarty's performance was criticized, with Variety saying she does "a poor woman's Cruella de Vil".[3] Many reviewers also felt that Eric Idle, being a venerable comedian, was underused in the role of Moriarty's obsequious henchman. Some critics also felt it was a mistake for the film to juxtapose cartoon-esque comedy with serious themes about death.[citation needed]

Overall the film was a huge success at the box office, opening at #1 over the Memorial Day weekend, grossing $16,840,385 over its first three days from 2,714 theaters, averaging $6,205 per theater, and over four days it grossed $22,091,975, averaging $8,140 per theater. It stayed at #1 in its second weekend, grossing another $13,409,610, and boosting its 10-day cume to $38,921,225. It played solidly all through the summer, ending up with a final gross of $100,328,194 domestically, and achieved even greater success internationally, grossing $187,600,000, for a total worldwide gross of $287,928,194, against a $55 million budget, making it a massive commercial success.

Production

Items from the set are on display at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. This was the first film with a computer-animated title character. The last name of the Christina Ricci's and Bill Pullman's characters is "Harvey". Harvey Comics is the long time publisher of Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Soundtrack

  1. "No Sign of Ghosts"
  2. Carrigan & Dibs
  3. Strangers in the House
  4. First Haunting/The Swordfight
  5. March of the Exorcists
  6. Lighthouse—Casper & Kat
  7. Casper Makes Breakfast
  8. Fond Memories
  9. "Dying" to Be a Ghost
  10. Casper's Lullaby
  11. Descent to Lazarus
  12. One Last Wish
  13. "Remember Me This Way" – Jordan Hill
  14. "Casper the Friendly Ghost" – Little Richard
  15. Uncles Swing/End Credits

References

External links

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