'Casper' Is Still a Perfect, Wholesome Goth Kid Movie
It's the spooky, sentimental movie you didn't know you need to re-watch.
Halloween may be long over and it's very likely you've burned through your watch list of spooky movies for awhile, but may I present you with one supernatural classic that might've missed this year: Casper. Yes, I am talking about the classic 1995 movie starring Christina Ricci and an adorable CGI ghost—it's available on Netflix and a very wholesome comedown from the election tension.
Of the massive swath of popular kids' movies that came out in the '90s, the live-action film adaptation of the Casper the Friendly Ghost comics is one that's unfortunately seldom remembered. Despite being a massive box office hit, it received (incorrect!) poor reviews and, in ways, has been overshadowed by its own sequel, Casper Meets Wendy, that featured Hilary Duff and got ample play on Disney Channel, as well as similar '90s spooky movie franchise The Addams Family, which also happens to star young goth queen Christina Ricci as the iconic Wednesday Addams. Casper is great, though, and a beloved favorite among former goth kid millennials everywhere. With fantasy, the film tactfully handles the dark theme of children processing death and makes you fall for an affectionate little ghost in the process.
Staying true to the Harvey Comics source material, the movie directed by Brad Silberling (City of Angels, Moonlight Mile) is about a very sweet and sad ghost boy (voiced by Malachi Pearson) who wants nothing more than to quit frightening people so he doesn't have to be so lonely. Unlike his uncles, the Ghostly Trio, who haunt their home of Whipstaff Manor, he's the kind of ghoul who watches Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and tries to befriend anyone who walks through the mansion's front door. That finally pans out for him when an heiress inherits the mansion and calls upon a paranormal therapist (Bill Pullman) to get rid of the poltergeists there, bringing along his angsty teenage daughter Kat (Ricci) in tow. The two bond over their shared loss—Kat having lost her mother, and Casper his literal life and any memory of it—and try to piece together who Casper was before he essentially became a transparent pillow case, then bring him back.
The heist-y plot that's pretty familiar to kids movies may be silly, but it's also the kind of story that's full of sentimental magic to get lost in. I don't even mean the paranormal stuff per se, but just how special Casper and his wistful pining for Kat (who still has a pulse) is. If anyone remembers anything about this movie, it's when he whispers, "Can I keep you?" to her as she's falling asleep, and again when he becomes human for one night (played by Devon Sawa) and they float over the dance floor of her Halloween party while Mariah Carey's "Hero" plays. That's the super cute thing of weird, supernatural-obsessed kids' dreams! (I should know, as it was a very formative moment for me in my youth, oddly enough!) It's blissful and escapist, and plain fun to revisit. So much so that you're going to want the little guy to haunt you next. And in all seriousness, we could all use some of Casper's friendly comfort now and always.
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