Casper Movie Poster Image

Casper

(i)

 

Haunted house tale not as mild as the cartoons.
  • Review Date: May 17, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1995
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Some messages on acceptance. 

Positive role models

Despite the 1990s-style post-modern self-awareness going on throughout the movie, Casper is basically as friendly as he ever was in cartoons. 

Violence & scariness

Much fighting and three deaths of characters who are then shown as ghosts. Some characters willingly pass into the spirit world, thinking they can come back with the help of an invention. One of the characters falls off a cliff to her death. Pratfalls and cartoonish violence from Casper's three cruel ghost uncles. Casper talks about how he died when he was a little boy.  Ghosts vomit on a priest and turn his head 180 degrees. A woman tries to run over her lawyer with a Range Rover. Casper's uncles bully him verbally and physically. 

Sexy stuff

Some innuendo, much of which will go over kids' heads, such as when Casper's mean uncles drop Dr. Harvey's pants, and one comments, "You're no Marky Mark." Tween kissing. 

Language

Occasional profanity, which could be surprising for those expecting something more in line with the more wholesome original cartoon series: "bitch," "damn," "hell," "Jesus," "for Christ's sake." A tween girl says "piss off." 

Consumerism

One of Casper's uncles kicks Casper with a Nike tennis shoe, the only time any ghost is shown wearing footwear of any kind. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adult ghosts drink and act drunk. These same ghosts also smoke cigars. Cigarette smoking from the lead female antagonist. One of the lead characters is shown getting drunk and singing karaoke, encouraged by adult ghosts. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Casper is a 1995 adaptation of the well-known cartoon series chronicling the adventures of the titular "friendly ghost." The cartoon Casper and other Casper movies are much milder than this one. There are deaths here and much talk about the spirit world and grieving the loss of parents. The main character, Kat, sees one parent as a ghost, and another parent dies and comes back with the help of an invention. Kat also has a crush on Casper, who died as a tween boy. Casper's ghost uncles can be crude and mischievous and they take Kat's father out drinking at a bar. There is some bullying -- Kat is verbally teased by the popular kids as the "new kid" in school, and Casper's uncles bully him too. There is some profanity: "bitch," "damn," "hell," "Jesus," "for Christ's sake." A tween girl says "piss off."  There's also some sexual innuendo: In one scene, Kat's father's pants are removed by Casper's mischievous uncles, and one of the ghosts says that "he is no Marky Mark." Parents expecting a wholesome movie version of the cartoon series will be surprised by the language and violence.

What's the story?

Motherless Kat Harvey (Christina Ricci) and her father (Bill Pullman), a psychologist who helps spirits complete their journey onto death, move into Whipstaff Manor. The nasty Carrigan Crittenden has hired the doctor to rid her recently inherited property of its ghosts so she can hunt for the treasure hidden somewhere within its walls. One of the ghosts, Casper, develops a crush on Kat, while his rowdy ghost uncles make life comically difficult for everyone. When the Harveys throw a Halloween party, Kat and Casper discover a "resurrection machine" built by Casper's father, as well as the "treasure." Carrigan wants the machine for her wicked plans, and eventually there's a mad chase about the house and in and out of spirit worlds. In the end, Casper faces a tough choice: his life or Dr. Harvey's?

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Viewers on the younger side should find the haunted house in CASPER pretty cool, although they may be frightened at times. Parents will not appreciate the unexpected profanity and violence. Great special effects and fine acting should entertain older tweens, who may also like the mild romance between Casper and Kat, but teens will find the scares too mild and the tone too sentimental at times.

That said, the relationship between Kat and her father is genuinely sweet. Cathy Moriarty as Carrigan is enjoyably Cruella de Vil-ish, and sidekick Dibs (Monty Python's Eric Idle) has funny moments. Cameos by Don Novello as the exorcist, Father Guido Sarducci, and Dan Aykroyd as Ghostbusters' Dr. Ray Stantz are good in-jokes. The Victorian Gothic set -- with a nifty revolving panel and roller coaster ride to the basement -- is indeed cool.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about fantasies and ghosts. What is appealing about ghost stories? Why do you think Casper is friendly while his uncles are looking to cause trouble?

  • How is this movie darker than the original cartoon series? 

  • How is violence shown in the movie? Does it seem appropriate to the story, or does it seem gratuitous? 

  • Why do you think so many ghost stories take place in mansions?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 26, 1995
DVD release date:September 23, 2003
Cast:Ben Stein, Bill Pullman, Christina Ricci
Director:Brad Silberling
Studio:Universal Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Friendship, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild language and thematic elements.

This review of Casper was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byMommaKof2 November 10, 2011

Some language to be aware of in "Casper"

The review doesn't inform parents that the word "b*****" is used twice (and not in ref to a female dog!)I find that innapropriate for children.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Parent of a 5 year old Written byJulieMis October 31, 2009

Cute, but not for early elemetary years.

There were some vulgar words, sexual inuendos, even 12 year olds dating was odd to me, and the issues with maternal death and being able to "come back" from ghost form could be confusing to a younster.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Parent of a 4 and 6 year old Written byMom from Houston February 12, 2011

Too much bad language for PG

uses the following language: Hell Cut the crap For Christs' sake and more not ok for my kids

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