A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this entertaining animated TV movie contains some mildly scary scenes including a scene in which ghosts chase screaming human children and turn them into stone. Ghosts also play tricks on humans and make mischief by breaking things and creating general -- but brief -- mayhem. Casper breaks some rules and lies to his school headmaster, but his overwhelming innocence compensates for any wrongdoing. Two minor characters are stereotypical dumb cheerleaders, and two characters are referred to as fat.
What's the story?
In CASPER'S SCARE SCHOOL, the loveable ghost-child gets sent off to boarding school when he's caught being friendly to "fleshies." Though he makes a half-hearted attempt to bone up his scary quotient, Casper just can't deny his true friendly nature. Meanwhile, he uncovers a plot to terrorize humans, and, with the help of his friends -- a zombie girl and mummy boy -- restores order and learns to accept himself.
Is it any good?
As a role model, Casper (voiced by Devon Werkheiser) excels. He's habitually polite, friendly, and helpful. He seems more self-assured here than in previous tales -- perhaps because he finally has a "fleshie" friend. Before he's sent off to Scare School, Casper makes a promise to attend the friend's soccer games. He has to sneak out of school to keep his promise, proving that loyalty to his friend is paramount. Once he's at school, Casper finds himself at odds with a snitchy vampire student who tries everything to get the friendly ghost in trouble. Despite being harassed, Casper doesn't lower himself to meanness. He stays true to his nice roots and still comes out ahead in the end.
Casper and his universe have received a facelift since his earlier print and small-screen days. The animation is sharp, bright, and altogether modern-looking -- something kids raised on Finding Nemo and Toy Story will enjoy. Several mildly scary moments may upset more sensitive children. In one scene, the leader of the underworld, a grumpy green ghost named Kibosh (Kevin Michael Richardson) gets angry with Casper and grows larger and darker while his eyes glow red and his voice deepens. But scary moments are brief and usually followed by a funny scene, which helps relieve any tension. Some parents may take exception to a couple of the movie's stereotypes. First, Casper's uncle, Fatso (Billy West), gorges himself constantly on sweets and anything else he can get his hands on. Parents may need to explain that not all large people are binge eaters, and that you wouldn't normally call people "fatso." Second, at Casper's school he meets twin skeleton cheerleaders who are dull-witted and overly concerned with their appearance. This stereotype will go over most kids' head, but it's worth bringing up to older children.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about learning to accept yourself. Why does Casper try to learn to be scary, even though he doesn't enjoy it? When does Casper realize that he should be happy with himself the way he is? Who helps him realize this? Are there times when kids feel like they should be different from who they are? Where do they feel this pressure, and from whom? How do they deal with these feelings?
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