Casper (1995): Parent Review

PG | Run time: 1hr 40min | Comedy, Family, Halloween | 1995

Casper, the friendly ghost, is about as iconic as mid-90’s CGI characters can get. You may look back and remember watching this film with fondness (or possibly disdain) and wonder if Casper is a good to movie to show your kids.

Well, I’m here to tell you, good is relative. Is Casper still relevant? Mostly, but there are definitely references to movies of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s your kids probably won’t get. Hell you might not get them if you weren’t born yet either.

And you can definitely tell Casper was written in the time just before parents of all ages became sensitive about literally everything their kids watch.

Every.

Thing.

Because – oh no – they say things like “bitch” in it.

So if you’re a super sensitive parent that worries that your child will be scarred for life by a family movie like Casper, then you should probably avoid it. If you are anyone else, well, you might still want to avoid it. Though as family oriented movies go, it’s not terrible.

Casper (1995) Basic Plot

A greedy woman, Carrigan Crittenden, finds out she is not receiving anything from her deceased father but a decaying old mansion. Frustrated and one sided, Carrigan wants to destroy the house. That is, until she finds a treasure map to, you guessed it, a treasure. (SPOILER ALERT: The treasure is not that valuable)

Casper - Carrigan and Dibs finding out there is a treasure in the mansion

Carrigan decides to go to the mansion to retrieve the treasure with her lawyer/guy she’s sleeping with. When they get there, the ghosts that reside in the mansion scare them off.

Determined to get the treasure within, Carrigan tries several methods to rid the house of the ghosts. When they all fail, she calls Dr. James Harvey (aka Bill Pullman), a ghost therapist. Dr. Harvey believes he can get the ghosts to cross over. And once this occurs, Carrigan can get her treasure.

But Dr. Harvey’s daughter, Kat, meets Casper the friendly ghost. And they develop some bizarre preteen romance/friendship. Will Dr. Harvey help the ghosts cross over? Will Carrigan get her treasure? Will Casper score with Kat?

No. Yes. Yes. No need to watch anymore unless you want some of the filler information.

Casper in bed with Kat watching her sleep
Casper watches you while you sleep, nothing creepy about that…

Talking Point in Casper

There’s some good news for all you anal retentive parents that like to teach your kids lessons while watching a movie. You can teach them a lesson and not suck all the fun out of Casper.

After watching Casper with your kids, you can discuss the meaning of the word: bitch. Yes, its the word you have been waiting for. Rich in history, dynamic in meaning, bitch is sure to be the talk of the playground at school.

No boring ass lecture about friendship or how something made them feel. No, Casper let’s you discuss the double (and dare I add triple) meaning of the word bitch.

Dibs, Carrigan’s lawyer possibly lover, says:

You can haunt me all you want, but it’s gonna be in a great big expensive house, with lovely purple wallpaper, and great big green carpets, and a little dog, called Carrigan – a bitch, just like you! I’ve got the power! I’ve got the treasure!

What better way to introduce your child to the concept that the same word can have two meanings? I mean, if you don’t explain the meanings of bitch, the best joke in Casper will be lost on them. Do you really want that?

Here are some helpful talking points:

  • According to Merriam-Webster, bitch means “the female of the dog or some other carnivorous mammals.” Teach your kids that the family dog, if it is a female, is actually a bitch. Try teaching them using these samples:
    • “Look kids, the bitch is laying on the couch.” (TIP: Don’t use this if you value your life and your wife is laying on the couch with the dog. It won’t end well.)
    • If you have multiple dogs call them to you and then say, “My bitches come to me when I call them.” (TIP: Also do not say this after asking your wife to come to here. That, too, will not end well.)
  • Also according to Merriam-Webster, bitch means “a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman.” Teach your kids to use it in a sentence so when they are called to the principal’s office, you’ll know its because they used the word correctly.
    • “My math teacher is being a real bitch. He assigned us homework over the three day weekend.”
    • “Emily is a bitch. She stole my toy at preschool today.”

So from now on, when you get called to the principal’s office, day care, or preschool, you can smile, hold your head up high, knowing that your child used a “naughty” word correctly.*

*Not responsible if you actually teach your child the meaning of the word “bitch.” That’s on you. You wouldn’t want to be a little bitch and blame me if you do this and things go wrong. Would you?

Casper (1995): Parent Review

Movie title: Casper

Movie description: Bill Pullman plays a psychologist to the dead hired to rid a decaying mansion of Casper and his three uncles who haunt the estate.

Date published: 1995-05-26

Director(s): Brad Silberling

Actor(s): Malachi Pearson - Casper (voice), Cathy Moriarty - Carrigan, Eric Idle - Dibs, Ben Stein - Rugg, Bill Pullman - Dr. Harvey, Christina Ricci - Kat, Joe Nipote - Stretch (voice), Joe Alaskey - Stinkie (voice), Brad Garrett - Fatso (voice)

Genre: Family, Halloween, Fantasy, Comedy

Overall
2.6
  • Plot
    (3)
  • Characters
    (1.5)
  • Entertainment
    (3.5)
  • Appropriate for Anyone
    (2.5)

Dad's Take

Casper definitely qualifies for one of those crappy, click bait articles about the 22 Movies That Would Never Get Made Today. If you are a sanctimommy, helicopter parent, or bulldozer parent, Casper probably didn’t age well for you. You’ll probably be “offended” by:

  • smoking references
  • use of the word bitch
  • use of mocking names such as “Fatso” and “Stench”
  • shows bullying
  • shows two deaths off screen
  • deals with ghosts that can be upsetting to younger viewers
  • the main villain is greedy which could influence your child to be greedy too
  • reference to Carrigan and Dibs being lovers

Then there are more obvious, actual aging problems for the rest of us. There are a lot of references to popular 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s stars thrown in for comedic value. Some are iconic enough that most adults will probably still get them. While other references might leave some younger parents scratching their heads.

Mind you, none of this actually detracts from the very simplistic plot lines of the movie. Casper has some heavy hitting themes… dealing with loss and moving on… greed and its consequences… and young love/friendship. 

As Halloween movies go, Casper is in no way, shape, or form spooky even for younger viewers. Grant it, if your kid is afraid of their own shadow, you should probably avoid Casper, other Halloween movies, most movies, most TV, and probably shouldn’t take them out in public. 

The “scares” are all over the top and meant to be fun or funny. Even my 5 year old, who is scared of the “purple guy” in Spooky Buddies, doesn’t flinch at Casper. But she is suddenly asking about smoking and how to best bully her peers. Damn you Casper and your controversial imagery!

Still, Casper is in no way terrible. I mean, it has Bill Pullman in it. How bad can it really be? I mean. It’s Bill Pullman, famous for depicting the ass kicking President 1 year later in Independence Day. 

And Casper gives kids lots of teachable moments. Like how Dibs’ joke about getting a little dog and naming it “Carrigan” because it’s a bitch, just like her. Where else in a children’s movie are you going to be able to teach your children about the dual meaning of the word bitch? 

And in a story about ghosts, a ghost therapist, and an angel, there is really only one completely unbelievable element in Casper. In what world would a school Halloween dance be hosted in a private home? And how come literally every student came in an impeccable, awesome costume? Like not one kid in the class went home and cut two eye holes in a sheet? Or put cat ears on and called it a cat?

Casper really just loses me at the party scene because I just can’t suspend disbelief. Not happening. 

But in terms of rewatching it over and over, Casper is not that irritating. Like many other children movies, it did contain some adult oriented humor. This keeps it slightly entertaining, though after the second or third time within a few days that the kid wants to watch it, I can’t promise you won’t want to find out if joining Casper’s uncles is a good plan.

Pros

Teachable moments about words like “bitch”

Young school age girls may relate to Kat… I mean, I didn’t, but I’m not a school age girl.

Overall entertaining

Cons

Two deaths during movie

Deals with ghosts so may scare your child (or you if you are ultra sensitive)

Shows mild bullying – oh the humanity!

Completely unrealistic school Halloween party

Nathan

Nathan is not a published author, professional movie critic, or avid fan of most children shows. He is a caring father (when he's not banging his head against the wall), a movie connoisseur of sorts literally able to have full conversations in movie and TV quotes, and dedicated to helping other parents avoid starting a show with their small children that they will soon regret. In his free time, he does nothing. He has two small children. Free time does not exist.

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