Casper is a 1995 American family comedy fantasy film, directed by Brad Silbering. It is based on the Harvey Comics and cartoon character Casper the Friendly Ghost. The film stars Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci. The ghosts featured in the film were created through computer-generated imagery. The film was distributed by Universal Pictures.
A spoiled woman named Carrigan Crittenden attends the reading of her late father's will and learns he has only left her the old Whipstaff Manor in Friendship, Maine. Learning there may be treasure hidden within the manor, Carrigan and her attorney Paul "Dibs" Plutzker visit the house but discovered it is haunted by a friendly yet lonely ghost, Casper, and worse, his three obnoxious uncles, Stretch, Stinkie, and Fatso. Carrigan hires several professional including Father Guido Sarducci and Ghostbuster Raymond Stantz to remove the ghosts with no success. While watching television, Casper learns of Dr. James Harvey, a paranormal therapist who helps ghosts complete their unfinished business and move on, and immediately falls in love with his daughter Kat. He manipulates Carrigan into contacting Dr. Harvey to visit the manor.
Dr. Harvey travels the country with Kat, really in search of the ghost of his deceased wife, Amelia. They move into Whipstaff, but Casper's attempt to befriend Kat backfires when his uncles arrive home and cause havoc. The next day, Casper tries to keep the peace between his uncles and their new mortal guests. Dr. Harvey begins to counsel the Ghostly Trio who claim they know where Amelia dwells, but Fatso pulls a prank on him. Kat begins her first day at school, and unintentionally convinces the class to hold their Halloween party at Whipstaff. She also is befriended by classmate Vic, who asks her to the dance by order of his friend Amber, the stroppy, spoiled class president who was originally going to host the party. Kat learns Casper has no memories of his life and searches the house for a way to help him remember. She finds Casper's bedroom and helps him remember his childhood. Upon finding an old sled, he remembers that he died from a fatal illness (possibly pneumonia) after staying out too late in the cold, and instead of crossing over to the afterlife, he chose to stay behind so his father wouldn't be lonely.
Kat finds a newspaper article describing how Casper's father attempted to create a machine named the Lazarus, designed to resurrect his dead son but he was sent to an insane asylum. As Casper and Kat go to find the Lazarus, Carrigan and Dibs sneak in after the Ghostly Trio drag Dr. Harvey out for a happy hour. While out, the Trio consider killing Dr. Harvey, certain that he will become a ghost and join their band, but when he tells them that he won't force them out of their house, they decide they like him too much to simply murder him.
Meanwhile, Casper and Kat find a secret passage down to the laboratory of Casper's father, while Carrigan and Dibs spot a vault where they assume the treasure is. Upon learning that the Lazarus works by inserting a formula which brings back the dead, Carrigan and Dibs steal said formula with the intention of using its power to rob banks as ghosts then come back to life to enjoy their ill-gotten riches. Upon finding out the formula will work on only one person, the two end up turning on each other, leading to Carrigan falling off a cliff but returning as a ghost. Carrigan confronts Casper and Kat, spiriting herself into and out of the vault with the treasure, and throws Dibs out of a nearby window. Casper and Kat fool Carrigan into admitting she has no unfinished business, forcing her to cross over to the afterlife. Casper's 'treasure' is revealed to be an autographed baseball signed by Brooklyn Dodgers player Duke Snider.
Dr. Harvey and the Ghostly Trio appear, the former having died by falling down a manhole while drunk. Dr. Harvey has no memories of Kat, who is heartbroken, but when she reminds him of who she is, he is shocked at what he has done to himself. Casper gives up the chance to become human by allowing Dr. Harvey to use the Lazarus and reunite with Kat. The Halloween party kicks off downstairs, but Kat realizes she was tricked by Vic and Amber (who planned to upstage the party) when Casper's uncles chase them out of the manor. Casper sits sadly alone in his room until the spirit of Amelia appears and grants him a wish in gratitude for caring for her daughter and husband—to spend one night alive, allowing him to dance with Kat until ten o'clock. Amelia then visits Dr. Harvey and tells him that the reason why he couldn't find her ghost was because she had already crossed over and entered the afterlife, but Casper's uncles were able to get in contact with her in gratitude for giving them the most fun they've had in years. Before leaving, she tells him he can move on. Ten o'clock chimes, and Casper kisses Kat just as he transforms back into a ghost, scaring away all of the party guests, leaving Casper, Kat, Dr. Harvey and the Ghostly Trio to celebrate Halloween themselves.
|Malachi Pearson||Casper (McFadden) (voice)|
|Cathy Moriarty||Carrigan Crittenden|
|Eric Idle||Paul "Dibbs" Plutzker|
|Ben Stein||Mr. Rugg|
|Don Novello||Father Guido Sarducci|
|Fred Rogers||Mr. Rogers (archive footage) (as Mr. Rogers)|
|Terry Murphy||Herself (Hard Copy)|
|Bill Pullman||Dr. James Harvey|
|Christina Ricci||Kathleen "Kat" Harvey|
|Ernestine Mercer||Harvey Patient Being Interviewed|
|Doug Bruckner||Reporter (voice) (as Douglas J.O. Bruckner)|
|Joe Nipote||Stretch (voice)|
|Joe Alaskey||Stinkie (voice)|
|Brad Garrett||Fatso (voice)|
|John Kassir||The Crypt Keeper (voice)|
|Garette Ratliff Henson||Vic DePhillippi|
|Jessica Wesson||Amber Whitmire|
|Wesley Thompson||Mr. Curtis|
|Michael Dubrow||Student #1|
|J.J. Anderson||Student #2|
|Jess Harnell||Arnold (voice)|
|Michael McCarty||Drunk in Bar|
|Amy Brenneman||Amelia Harvey|
|Devon Sawa||Casper on Screen|
|Janette Andrade||Student (uncredited)|
|Dan Aykroyd||Dr. Raymond Stantz (uncredited)|
|Rodney Dangerfield||Rodney Dangerfield (uncredited)|
|Clint Eastwood||Clint Eastwood (uncredited)|
|Mel Gibson||Mel Gibson (uncredited)|
|Elise Main||Little Red Riding Hood (uncredited)|
|Tony Stef'Ano||Kid at Party (uncredited)|
- "No Sign of Ghosts"
- "Carrigan and Dibbs"
- "Strangers in the House"
- "First Haunting/The Swordfight"
- "March of the Exorcists"
- "Lighthouse—Casper & Kat"
- "Casper Makes Breakfast"
- "Fond Memories"
- "'Dying' to Be a Ghost"
- "Casper's Lullaby"
- "Descent to Lazarus"
- "One Last Wish"
- "Remember Me This Way" – Jordan Hill
- "Casper the Friendly Ghost" – Little Richard
- "The Uncles Swing/End Credits"
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.
Casper received generally mixed reviews from film critics. At Rotten Tomatoes based on 36 reviews the film has a "rotten" rating of 44%. 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.
In the mid-90s, Simon Wells co-wrote a screenplay for Casper 2, which he was set to direct. Amblin Entertainment canceled the sequel because they did not believe there would be enough interest from moviegoers. Wells also credited the uncertainty of actress Christina Ricci returning and Fox's ill-received direct-to-video Casper films as contributing to the cancellation of Casper 2.
There were several games based on or tied-in with this film, released on the major consoles of the time, such as the 3DO, Super Nintendo, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Game Boy Color and original Game Boy.