Steven Spielberg (executive)
Joseph Oriolo (Characters)
|Music by||James Horner|
|Editing by||Michael Kahn|
The Harvey Entertainment Company
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||100 minutes|
Casper is a 1995 American comedy fantasy film starring Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci, based on the Casper the Friendly Ghost animated cartoons and comic books. The ghosts featured in the film were created through computer-generated imagery. The film was distributed by Universal Pictures.
In Friendship, Maine, Whipstaff Manor has been inherited by a neurotic and spoiled woman named Carrigan Crittenden as explained to her and her attorney Paul "Dibs" Plutzker by her father's lawyer Rugg. An invisible ink encryption in the will reveals that there is a treasure hidden somewhere in the manor, which inspires Carrigan and Dibs to investigate. They are greeted by a friendly but lonely ghost named Casper, but their resulting panics summons Casper's three loud and obnoxious uncles: Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso. Carrigan and Dibs hire a series of professionals - including Father Guido Sarducci and Raymond Stantz - in an attempt to rid themselves of the ghosts, but to no avail.
They finally hire a therapist, James Harvey, who can communicate with ghosts, helping them to move on to the next world by helping them to resolve their unfinished business keeping them on Earth. Harvey travels around the country with his teenage daughter, Kat, in an attempt to find the spirit of his deceased wife Amelia. Harvey and Kat move into Whipstaff and stay for the night. A lovestruck Casper attempts to befriend Kat and Harvey, but is unsuccessful because of the return of his uncles, who proceed to torment Harvey until they are subdued with a vacuum cleaner.
The next morning, Casper finally befriends Kat and Harvey. At Kat's new high school, her classmates vote to have their upcoming Halloween dance at Whipstaff Manor because of its exceptionally creepy reputation. Later, Kat's classmate, Vic, asks her out to the Halloween dance by order of his friend, Amber. This incident rouses Casper's jealousy and inspires him to spend more time with Kat and strengthen their bond. Meanwhile, Harvey speaks with Casper's uncles, who admit that they are amused by Harvey's existence. After learning that Casper has no memories of his life, Kat finds his old toys in the attic and sets them up to remind him. When his memories return, he gives Kat his mother's dress for the Halloween dance. He discovers his old sled, causing memories of his death from a fatal illness he received as the result of staying out too late in the cold to play with his brand new sled. Kat and Casper find a newspaper clipping revealing that Casper's father had created a machine that can bring the dead back to life - although he was sent to an insane asylum before it could be completed - and they set out to find the machine and try to get it to work. Their search leads them to an underground laboratory, where they prepare to bring Casper back to life.
Meanwhile, Carrigan and Dibs, in their search for the treasure, come across a vault in the same area as the laboratory. They steal the potion needed for the machine so that one of them can die, enter the locked vault and be resurrected. Carrigan ends up dying and returns in ghost form and steals the treasure from the vault. Carrigan orders Dibs to revive her, but he, tired of her constant mistreatment of him, refuses and she throws him out a window. Casper and Kat then trick Carrigan into claiming that she has no unfinished business, which causes her to pass onto the afterlife against her will. Casper reveals that the treasure is a baseball autographed by Casper's favorite Brooklyn Dodgers player, Duke Snider. At that moment, Harvey crashes into the lab, having died accidentally after unexpectedly falling into an open street construction trench during a drinking binge with Casper's uncles.
After being reminded of who he is, Casper sacrifices his "only" opportunity to return to life for the sake of Kat's father, and they use the "Lazarus machine" to resurrect Harvey, exhausting the potion (and Casper's chance to become human again). Meanwhile, the guests arrive at the mansion and have set up the party. Amber and Vic prepare their prank, but the Ghostly Trio intervenes and drives them away before they can succeed. Kat appears and proceeds to play hostess.
Casper, who has gone to his room to mourn his lost chance, is visited by Kat's mother in the form of an angel. She thanks him for his sacrifice and returns him to temporary human form, allowing him to dance with Kat. While they dance, Amelia appears to James. Her message to him: he must not keep trying to contact her, since she has no unfinished business after living such a good life with him and Kat. At the party, the human Casper asks Kat for a slow dance, during which he levitates them off the floor. At the stroke of ten (and in the middle of a kiss with Kat), Casper returns to his ghost form, scaring everyone else out of the mansion. Kat, Casper, and Harvey decide to continue the party, and dance to the singing of Casper's uncles.
- Bill Pullman as Dr. James Harvey
- Christina Ricci as Kathleen "Kat" Harvey
- Malachi Pearson as Casper (voice)
- Cathy Moriarty as Carrigan Crittenden
- Eric Idle as Paul "Dibs" Plutzker
- Ben Stein as Rugg
- Joe Nipote as Stretch (voice)
- Joe Alaskey as Stinkie (voice)
- Brad Garrett as Fatso (voice)
- Spencer Vrooman as Andreas
- Amy Brenneman as Amelia Harvey
- Devon Sawa as Casper (human form)
- Garette Ratliff Henson as Vic DePhillippi
- Jessica Wesson as Amber Whitmire
- Dan Aykroyd as Raymond Stantz (Ghostbusters cameo)
- Don Novello as Father Guido Sarducci
- John Kassir as Crypt Keeper
- Cameos as themselves
- Rodney Dangerfield
- Fred Rogers
- Clint Eastwood
- Terry Murphy
- Mel Gibson
Zelda Rubinstein stated that she reprised her role from the Poltergeist film series but the scene was cut. Ben Stein makes cameos in several other Casper films and even guest-starred in an episode of this film's animated spin-off, The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper.
Items from the set are on display at Universal Studios 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.
The film received mixed reviews overall. Modern day review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, gave the film a "Rotten" score of 43%. Time Out London described it as "an intimate and likeable film". 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." 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". 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.
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.
- Music Composed By James Horner
- Review – Allmusic
- 01 - "No Sign of Ghosts"
- 02 -Carrigan and Dibbs
- 03 -Strangers in the House
- 04 -First Haunting/The Swordfight
- 05 -March of the Exorcists
- 06 -Lighthouse—Casper & Kat
- 07 -Casper Makes Breakfast
- 08 -Fond Memories
- 09 -"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 -The Uncles Swing/End Credits
- Casper (film) at Internet Movie Database
- Casper at AllRovi
- Casper at Box Office Mojo
- Casper at Rotten Tomatoes