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Film / Casper

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Casper is a 1995 live-action film adaptation of the Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoons and comics. It was directed by Brad Silberling (who went on to do A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)) and produced by (who else?) Steven Spielberg. It is arguably the first feature film ever to have a CGI character in the lead role, beating Toy Story by six months.

Carrigan Crittenden (Cathy Moriarty) is eager to get her claws on her dear departed dad's fortune, but discovers at the reading of his will that he... didn't like her very much and only left her a moldy old mansion. Upon learning that the house may contain treasure, she drags her long-suffering lawyer Dibs (Eric Idle) to the Maine coastline, where they find the building is haunted by Casper and his three uncles. Carrigan eventually hires "ghost therapist" Dr. James Harvey (Bill Pullman) to get rid of them. He brings along his daughter Kat (a teenage Christina Ricci fresh off the Addams Family films), whose relationship with Casper is most of the plot.

It gained a few DTV sequels, two live action and two CGI animated. However, save Casper's Uncles, they don't share any continuity with each other.

  • Casper: A Spirited Beginning (1997)—the first of the two Saban-produced movies—was, as the title suggests, intended to be a prequel which shows Casper learning his powers and befriending a troubled boy named Chris. However, it contradicts Casper's backstory as presented in the first film and his connection to Whipstaff Manor, both of which had played a major role in the plot of the original film.
  • Casper Meets Wendy (1998)—the second of the two Saban-produced movies—showcases the meeting with Harvey Comics' Wendy, The Good Li'l Witch, when his uncles take him on a vacation where Wendy's aunts just coincidentally happened to be at the same place, albeit fleeing from a warlock who's trying to kill Wendy. It also has almost nothing to do with the first movie and for that matter contradicts Casper's backstory AGAIN. Was also the introduction of a then-young Hilary Duff.
  • Casper's Haunted Christmas (2000) is a CGI animated Christmas Movie by Mainframe Entertainment which see Casper and the Ghostly Trio trying to scare someone before Christmas or Kibosh (the king of ghosts from the second film) will banish them to "The Dark". Casper once again meets and befriends a human character which complicates things. Notable for including Spooky and Pearl from the Harvey Comics.
  • Casper's Scare School (2006) is the latest incarnation. This CGI adventure sees Casper sent to Scare School to learn to be a proper ghost. He makes friends, gains the wrath of a vampire, and stumbles onto a plot that'll put the whole world of monsters in danger. Was spun off into its own TV show which continues where the movie left off.

The film was additionally the basis for the short-lived animated series The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper and received a licensed video game adaptation.

The 1995 film provides examples of:

  • Accordion Man: Casper's uncles squeeze him like an accordion when he's trying to distract them from entering the house and seeing the people who've moved in.
  • Act of True Love: Casper sacrifices his chance at being alive to reunite Kat with her father, preventing her from becoming a teenage orphan.
  • Actor Allusion: Dr. Harvey turns into the Crypt Keeper at one point. Cathy Moriarty (Carrigan) had starred in Tales from the Crypt.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Apart from the characters of Casper and the Ghostly Trio, the story is original. The ghosts themselves are tweaked, with Casper becoming a 12-year-old instead of a younger child and the Trio stated to be his uncles instead of just three older ghosts he lived with.
  • Adaptation Name Change: In the older Casper comics, the Ghostly Trio are named Fatso (the fattest), Lazo (the tallest) and Fusso (the average one). In the film, Fatso is retained, the tallest is Stretch and the third is Stinkie. Also, the last two received different characterizations and traits, with Stretch as the leader instead of Fatso.
  • Age Lift: In the prior cartoons and comics, Casper was a prepubescent boy instead of a preteen, so crushes and romance never came up.
  • The Alleged Expert: Ray Stantz of the Ghostbusters is brought in to get rid of the ghosts. He can't. Father Guido Sarducci isn't much better; he only lasts five seconds before walking out of the manor with a twisted neck.note 
  • All for Nothing: The "treasure" Carrigan and Dibs try so hard to find turns out to be a baseball glove and ball signed by Casper's favorite player - and Carrigan's ghost crosses over before she even finds out what it is.note  Subverted, however, as Carrigan and Dibs also could've been rich from bringing back info on the Lazarus.
  • Alliterative Name: Carrigan Crittenden. Also Paul Plutzker (Dibs' real name).
  • All That Glitters: The treasure found in Casper's house is baseball memorabilia from when he played with his father.
  • All There in the Script: Dibs' name is Paul Plutzker, revealed in the credits and DVD features. Amber and Vic's surnames are also revealed to be DePhilippi and Whitmire. The credits also name the two boys from the opening scene as Nicky and Andreas.
  • Alpha Bitch: Amber hits most of the typical 90s requirements - blonde, rich, hates the new girl for no reasonnote  and tries to humiliate her.
  • Amusing Injuries: Dibs accidentally banging his head soon after first entering Casper's father's lab.
  • Anachronism Stew: The setting mixes, among other things, cars that only came to be in the mid-'90s and an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood that was last broadcast in the late '80s.
  • And Starring: Malachi Pearson gets an "Introducing" credit, a rarity for a voice-only role in an otherwise live-action production.
  • Answer Cut: After all their attempts to get the ghosts out of Whipstaff have failed, Dibs asks Carrigan what they're going to do next. She responds, "What do I usually do when something stands in my way?" The camera immediately cuts to a wrecking ball smashing one of the statues outside the manor, then pans over to show the demolition crew in full.
  • Anti-Hero: The Ghostly Trio are examples of Nominal Hero.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: There's enough language to justify its PG rating.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Remember Me This Way" by Jordan Hill. Surprisingly, not only is it not played during the credits (instead it's played during the scene where the temporarily human Casper and Kat dance, but it's wasn't co-written by James Horner, who composed the score.
  • Awkward Kiss: During the Halloween dance, as the clock strikes ten, Casper and Kat kiss and while it's happening, Casper turns back into a ghost, prompting this response from Kat and shock from everyone else in attendance.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Carrigan and Dibs end up taking each other out in the end.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: In the film, ghosts are the spirits of people who had some important business left unfinished due to their death.
  • Battle Butler: Dibs. It's never explained what his relationship to Carrigan is or why he follows her around and takes her abuse.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Casper is one of the nicest ghosts you could meet. Give Kat a hard time and he'll get you, as in the shoelace scene.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: The Ghostly Trio only scare people for kicks. However, when they find out someone is pranking their house in an attempt to humiliate their fleshy friends, they give them a good scare.
  • Big Bad: Carrigan Crittenden.
  • Big Eater: All three of the Ghostly Trio (but only Fatso, as his name implies, is fat).
  • Big Fancy House: Whipstaff Manor could qualify, in spite of its creepiness.
  • Bitch Alert:
    • Carrigan is introduced at the reading of her father's will. She puts her cigarette out on the coffee table and asks in a completely deadpan voice what the "old stiff" left her.
    • Amber snapping at Kat to "Watch it!" while nearly hitting her with her bike on the way to school.
  • Black Comedy:
    • The Ghostly Trio warms up to James so much that they decide they want to kill him so he'll become a ghost and hang out with them for eternity. They change their minds, though.
    • Carrigan and Dibs trying to kill each other.
  • Bookends: The film starts and ends with Casper scaring people out of Whipstaff. At the start, it's Nicky and Andreas, the two boys who entered the place for a dare, and at the end, it's everyone at Kat's Halloween party.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: Gender flipped. Casper falls for a human girl living in his house.
  • Bratty Food Demand: At one point, Uncle Stretch shouts, "Gimme my meal!"
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Dibs is one to Carrigan, as well as being a Butt-Monkey. When he tries to turn the tables on her, she seemingly kills him by pitching him out of a window.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor Dibs. Casper also gets treated this way by the Ghostly Trio, at least before they decide James is more fun.
  • Canon Foreigner: Everyone except Casper and the Ghostly Trio.
  • Catch Your Death of Cold: The film reveals that Casper died from pneumonia, which he caught because he went out sledding and refused to come in when it got dark.
  • Celebrity Paradox: A blink if you miss moment, but when Casper is flipping through channels he stumbles upon an episode of one of his own cartoons, complete with an old lady reacting in the trademark "A GGGGHOST!!!" All that does is annoy Casper enough to change the channel.
  • Character Development:
    • Both Kat and Dr. Harvey go through quite a bit of it; they learn to appreciate one another more and fully accept the death of Kat's mother.
    • Casper himself, while remaining fundamentally the same Nice Guy throughout the movie, does start out as having slightly more selfish motives, occasionally coming across as a Stalker with a Crush towards Kat. He (mostly) loses these tendencies towards the end, going through a Heroic Sacrifice and giving up his chance for a new life so that Kat can have her father back.
    • Even the Ghostly Trio go through some development in the movie, Taking A (very slight) Level In Kindness.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Look carefully when Dr. Harvey trips and falls down the stairs. He trips over the vacuum cleaner he sucks the Ghostly Trio into a few minutes later.
    • The bottle of red serum that revives the dead, and used to power the Lazarus machine. Casper wants to use it to bring himself back to life, but then gives up his chance to use it after Dr. Harvey dies after drunkenly stumbling into an unfinished construction site, so it can be used to bring him back to life instead.
    • For the same reasons as above, the Lazarus machine itself.
    • The Pinky Swear between Kat and Dr. Harvey. Done by them when on their way to Friendship, then Kat does it again to Harvey's ghost to jog his memory and make him remember her. He does.
  • Clothing Damage: After going through Casper's father's machine to get to his lab, Dibs' suit suffers a torn shoulder.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to the comic it's based off of. The film doesn't pull any punches about the fact that every ghost was once a living person. Even showing how they come to be by having Dr. Harvey's and Carrigan's deaths being shown. Casper, while a nice ghost, has the most tragic death story of them all and such tragedy is what compels him to stay and be the friendly ghost we know and love. To top it off, all of this was in a PG movie while most of the humor, profanity and scary scenes are barely leaning towards PG-13.
  • Deader than Dead: Happens to ghosts when they cross over, including Carrigan in the end. Depending on where they're headed next, this can be a good thing.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kat at times. Could cross into Little Miss Snarker when you think about her age.
  • Death by Adaptation: Sort of. Casper is usually portrayed as not actually dead, barring some of the oldest cartoons, with ghosts actually being a separate species like The Fair Folk. Here, he's explicitly the spirit of a dead boy and we even find out how he died.
  • Death of a Child: Casper is the ghost of a twelve-year-old boy who died of pneumonia. He shares the story of his death with Kat later in the film.
  • Desperate Object Catch: Kat lunges to catch the glass bottle of red substance that could bring Casper back to life. She catches it just in time, complete with slow-mo.
  • Destination Defenestration: Carrigan's response to Dibs' "The Reason You Suck" Speech is to pitch him out of a window (and out of the film).
  • Died Happily Ever After: Amelia does turns up not as a ghost but as an angel and She reveals that this is the reason James had such a hard time tracking her down; because he and Kat loved her so well when she was alive, she had no "unfinished business," and went straight to heaven instead of becoming a ghost.
  • Disney Villain Death: Carrigan accidentally falls off a cliff. Not that it stops her...
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Kat is putting her hand through Casper's and Dr. Harvey walks in, the two jump back like two people caught in a compromising position, complete with a Sting.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Sort of—Carrigan is defeated for good when our heroes trick her into revealing that she doesn't have any unfinished business tethering her to the mortal realm and thus, she's ready to cross over to the afterlife. Given that Amelia is revealed to have gone to Heaven later, we can only assume that Carrigan went in the other direction.
  • Dreamworks Face: In an instance that predates Dreamworks, Fatso makes this expression on the film's poster.
  • Eat the Camera: Casper does this at the end in what's a combination between this and a Fly-at-the-Camera Ending.
  • The End: In the last scene, Casper spells this out right before flying directly towards the camera.
  • Enemy Mine: Wanting Kat to come to Whipstaff and knowing Carrigan would want Dr. Harvey to get rid of the Ghostly Trio, Casper brings the news piece about Dr. Harvey to Carrigan's interest so she'll hire him for it.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Carrigan's first line while her father's will is being read ("To hell with the livestock. What did the old stiff leave me?") tells you quite a bit about her: she's clearly someone who doesn't like to be kept waiting for what she wants, she looks down on others due to her It's All About Me attitude, had a poor relationship with her rich father, and finally is pretty greedy, especially as we just heard her father was a millionaire.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Dibs and Carrigan get one when they realize, after stealing the red serum, they can get hold of the treasure by killing themselves, stealing the treasure as ghosts and using the serum to come back to life.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Right after the Ghostly Trio decide they want to kill Dr. Harvey so his ghost can join their gang, Harvey (drunkenly) tells them he won't help Carrigan evict them from the manor, and declares them to be his best friends. The trio then decide on the spot that they just can't go through with doing him in.
  • Evil Counterpart: Carrigan and Dibs are this to Kat and Casper. They have a relationship with some romantic subtext, and Dibs is (for most of the film) devoted to Carrigan, as Casper is to Kat. The relationships differ in that Casper will voluntarily sacrifice his own interests to Kat, culminating in the Heroic Sacrifice discussed below; Kat in turn defends Casper to the Ghostly Trio and to Carrigan and Dibs. In contrast, Carrigan and Dibs' relationship is a perversion of this, with Carrigan often sacrificing Dibs' wellbeing to save her own skin, or even to avoid inconvenience, showing little concern for him, until — when she suggests killing him to make him a ghost — he turns on her and tries to kill her in turn. They both end up causing each other's deaths.
  • Evil Laugh:
    • Carrigan does a few of these. Particularly in ghost form.
    • On the night of the Halloween dance, soon after the partygoers first arrive, one of these is heard, freaking them out.
  • Evil Wears Black: Carrigan wears mostly black outfits.
  • The Exit Is That Way: When James sees Casper for the first time, he tries to carry Kat out of the house...only to use the wrong door.
    Kat: Uh, Dad, we're in a closet.
  • Faint in Shock:
    • Sassy teenager Kat faints from meeting the ghostly hero for the first time.
    • Kat's father James faints when Casper's trouble-making uncles pull a surprise Nightmare Face on the good Dr.
  • Fantastic Slurs: The Ghostly Trio refer to humans (or rather, living humans) as "fleshies" or "bonebags".
  • Faux Affably Evil: Carrigan, especially when she first meets the Harveys.
  • Finish Dialogue in Unison: This happens during James and Amelia's final conversation.
  • Fly-at-the-Camera Ending: The movie ends with the friendly ghost flying around in the air, spelling out "The End" with a smoke trail...and then apparently trying to devour the audience.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Kat, annoyed with her father for dragging her around the country on what she sees as a Wild Goose Chase, flatly tells James that "Mom's not a ghost." She turns out to be right. Amelia died with no regrets, so her spirit never carried the burden of Unfinished Business, Which allowed her to properly cross over and become an ANGEL, something Stinkie called her earlier, implying that they knew her.
    • Casper asks Kat if she would go to the Halloween dance with him if he was alive, and she responds that she would. This does indeed come to pass at the end of the film, where Kat is left alone after Vic and Amber are scared off by the Ghostly Trio, and Casper, having temporarily been turned back into a human by Amelia for reviving Dr. Harvey, appears to Kat and dances with her, before she realizes she's dancing with him.
  • Forging the Will: Discussed. Upon learning the contents of her father's will, Carrigan berates Dibs for not forging one.
  • For Want of a Nail: Essentially the plot happens because Carrigan was left Whipstaff Manor by her dead father in his will, and it happened to be haunted by Casper and the Ghostly Trio.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • In the beginning, while Carrigan watches a wrecking crew attempt to tear down the haunted Whipstaff Manor, she nonchalantly lights up a Dibs accidentally falls on a lever, and a wrecking ball smashes into their car behind her.
    • After finding himself unable to go through with killing Dr. Harvey, Stinkie fires his gun at the ceiling, causing rubble to come down and hit a bar patron in the background.
  • Ghastly Ghost: Casper's three uncles Stretch, Fatso and Stinkie are mainly just pranksters, but they also try to kill Dr. Harvey.
  • Ghost Amnesia: Casper and Dr. Harvey, until their respective memories get jogged. Averted with Carrigan, for some reason.
  • Ghostly Chill: When Casper kisses a half-asleep Kat, she mistakes the feeling for a draft from her bedroom window and asks him to close it.
  • Ghosts Abhor a Vacuum: In his fight with the Ghostly Trio, Dr. Harvey gets the upper hand once he uses a vacuum cleaner to vacuum them all up.
  • Glamour Failure: Kat dryly comments that Casper's lack of a reflection is one reason she wouldn't date him.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Carrigan's very first onscreen action is to stub her cigarette out on a polished wooden table. She lights up another one a little later on while watching the attempted demolition of Whipstaff, and is a complete bitch to almost everyone she talks to.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Amber's hostility to Kat stems from this - she's jealous that the school's Halloween dance will be taking place at Kat's house instead of her own.
  • Happily Married: James Harvey and his wife, Amelia. He was so shaken by her unexpected death that he made it his personal mission to track down her ghost. He finds her in the end... as an angel. They share one final moment together before she returns to Heaven.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: The Ghostly Trio upon seeing the Doc's photo of his wife Amelia:
    Stretch: Hey, what a dish, Doc!
    Stinkie: The little missus, perhaps?
    Fatso: Hubba, hubba! *Wolf Whistle*
  • Heroes Gone Fishing:
    • Kat discovering Casper's old bedroom and trying to jog his memories by restoring it to its former glory.
    • Dr. Harvey drunkenly singing karaoke in the bar scene with the Ghostly Trio watching.
    • Casper tells Kat that no matter how busy his father was while working in his lab, he would drop everything to play pirates with Casper.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Casper gives up his only chance to come back to life so Dr. Harvey can come back and be a father to Kat.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Carrigan becomes a Self-Disposing Villain since her goal was the collection of the treasure and selling information on Casper's father's Lazarus machine. Upon becoming a ghost and taking it, she's fulfilled her only reason to remain in the world of the living and promptly passes on.
  • Hollywood Law:
    • In the beginning, the lawyer reads the will, with Carrigan learning for the first time that she gets only Whipstaff, and it is implied that everything is final. When Carrigan threatens to contest the will, the lawyer sarcastically replies, "Knock yourself out." To make matters worse, it is implied that this happens on the day of her father's death. Inheritance doesn't work that way. The will has to be taken through probate, which takes months at least, and Carrigan would get plenty of time to be informed of her inheritance, and be able to contest it in a hearing. Being the deceasedís daughter, Carrigan would have a much better chance at contesting the will than the lawyer's quip implies.
    • The deed. At the will reading, Carrigan is handed a yellowed deed, the same one on which Casper's father wrote the rhyme about the treasure. First of all, the property is only transferred via will once the will has gone through probate. Second, you do not transfer property using the same deed; a new deed is prepared each time the property changes hands. Third, an attorney would have had the new deed recorded before handing it over to the new landowner, finalizing the transfer of property. Thus, while throwing the deed into the fire is certainly a senseless act, it is not the same as literally burning money, as the movie seems to imply.
  • Human-Focused Adaptation: Somewhat, as Dr. Harvey and (especially) Kat are the main protagonists here — though Casper and his uncles don't lack screen time or plot relevance and go through almost as much Character Development as the humans do.
    • In the case of this franchise, in fact, the film is actually following tradition; several of the old Casper cartoons would give a starring role to whoever it was Casper was trying to befriend or help out.
    • However, the film kind of plays with this trope, especially with the third act, as a major plot point revolve solely around Casper rediscovering his past, which in turn makes Casper feel about as much of the protagonist in the film as well as the humans.
  • The Igor: Dibs helps out Carrigan.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: When Casper touches Kat, she tells him that he feels cold. Also, it's later revealed that Casper's death was caused by being out in the cold too long.
  • Immune to Slapstick: While she gets some witty lines, Kat is generally excluded from the movie's slapstick scenes. Compare her ride on the Up and At'em Machine to that of Carrigan and Dibs.
  • Improvised Weapon: Dr. Harvey, Stretch, Stinkie, and Fatso all use them during their fight on the stairs. They include a plunger, an umbrella, a golf club, and a vacuum cleaner.
  • Incoming Ham: During breakfast, the Ghostly Trio makes their presence known by shaking the room. They then descend from the ceiling while spinning their tails as helicopter blades while loudly humming "Ride of the Valkyries".
  • Insult Backfire:
    Kat: You guys are disgusting, obnoxious creeps!
    Ghostly Trio: ...Thank you!
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: Father Guido Sarducci and Dr. Ray Stantz briefly show up.
    Stanz: Who you gonna call? [Ghostly Trio laughs] Someone else!
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: After learning that Kat's father died and had turned into a ghost, Casper gives up his only chance to be human again and lets Kat have her father back.
  • Jerkass:
    • The Ghostly Trio, especially towards Casper. They do have their moments of civility, though, especially once they warm up to Dr. Harvey.
    • Carrigan Crittenden is a bigger jerk than the former three, and unlike them gets no such development.
  • Jerk Jock: Downplayed with Vic, since he never acts like a jerk to Kat's face and seems genuinely uncomfortable with Amber's plan to humiliate her, but goes along with the plan anyway. Maybe he's just a bit of a doormat.
  • Jump Scare: In-universe, and arguably a funny one at that. Vic and Amber really weren't expecting the Ghostly Trio to appear when they look at themselves in the mirror...
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Dibs backstabs Carrigan when she needs him to bring her back to life. He even lampshades this, saying that "always kick them when they're down" is the one thing he's learned from her.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Involves actual kicking. When Casper is sweeping up the kitchen floor, Stretch turns his head into a Nike shoe and kicks Casper with it.
    • The Ghostly Trio taunting Kat when she is trying to make her newly-deceased father's ghost remember her.
  • Kiddie Kid: Casper. He is twelve years old, has a toy train named Hootie, and sees a baseball as a treasure, in the case of baseball considering that itís signed by Casperís favourite player (Duke Schneider of the Brooklyn Dodgers) so itís understandable It would have quite a bit sentimental value to Casper. Perhaps justified, since, considering what happens to Dr. Harvey, it is implied that becoming a ghost de-matures people.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Amber and Vic break into Whipstaff on the night of the Halloween dance to upstage and humiliate Kat, only to get scared off by Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso pulling a Mirror Scare on them.
  • Last Disrespects: While Rugg is reading Carrigan her father's will, she refers to her father as "the old stiff" and a later line implies she was looking forward to his passing. Clearly someone who didn't like her father very much. Judging that he left his fortune almost entirely to charity and left his daughter with only an abandoned, condemned building, the feeling was mutual.
  • Let Her Grow Up, Dear: Amelia says that James is doing very well in raising Kat, but she raises a few points that sorely need to be addressed. Amelia mostly says that Kat, who is a teenager, must be allowed to engage boys with dignity and a measure of privacy.
  • Light Is Good: At the start of the second half of the film, Casper gives Kat a white dress that used to belong to his mother. She wears it for the rest of the film.
  • Logo Joke: The Universal globe turns into the moon outside of Whipstaff Manor at night.
  • Low Clearance: Amber is riding piggyback on Vic as they flee the house. Vic runs under a set of lights strung across the ballroom, and continues to drag Amber across the floor as he runs away.
  • Meaningful Echo: During the Halloween dance, when Casper appears to Kat in human form and dances with her, his sole line of dialogue is two sentences he had said to her earlier in the film. This is how she realizes it's him.
    Casper: I told you I was a good dancer. Can I keep you?
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The Ghostly Trio. Stretch's spectral body looks as if it's been stretched out, Stinkie is a ghostly biohazard, and Fatso is fat.
    • Although his true name is (apparently) different, Carrigan's lawyer is called "Dibs" Ė an appropriate name for a petty claimant seeking a client's inherited treasure.
  • Mirror Scare: After possessing Dr. Harvey, the Ghostly Trio change his reflection into Clint Eastwood, Rodney Dangerfield, Mel Gibson, and the Crypt Keeper. They then do it again to Vic and Amber on the night of the Halloween dance by appearing through the mirror.
  • Missing Mom: Amelia is this for Kat, having died before the film started. Casper's mom might also have been this when he was alive, as he only mentions her once in passing, and says that he became a ghost when he died "so my dad wouldn't be lonely."
  • Monochrome Apparition: The main ghosts are ghostly white. However, Carrigan and Dr. Harvey have visibly colored hair and clothes.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The mood goes from ominous when Carrigan comes back as a ghost in front of Dibs to casual very quickly when it cuts to the bar where Dr. Harvey is singing karaoke.
    • The movie will go from heartwarming to silly and back, often in the same conversation. For example, in the conversation between Dr. Harvey and Amelia, where he is finally able to achieve closure and she gives him a You Are Better Than You Think You Are talk, only to counsel him against some rather silly mistakes involving raising Kat.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After Dr. Harvey becomes a ghost, he has this reaction upon Kat triggering his memories of being alive. Realizing that he has now essentially left Kat parentless, he promptly says, "What have I done..."
  • Mythology Gag:
  • Named by the Adaptation: This film gives Casper a detailed backstory, and the surname of McFadden.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Subverted with Casper revealing to Kat where the treasure vault is within his father's lab. Unknown to them, Carrigan and Dibs are also in the lab and now know where the vault is. This is actually a subversion for the reasons discussed in Nice Job Fixing It, Villain, below.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: When Casper is in the Lazarus machine, Carrigan and Dibs steal the formula, preventing Casper from coming back to life. Thing is, had they not done so, Casper would have been revived, but Dr. Harvey would have stayed dead, and Kat and Casper would have probably ended up in foster care, probably separated.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Casper's father finally gave him the sled he'd been begging for, only for Casper to spend too long out in the cold with it, get sick, and die.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Dibs when Carrigan starts the Range Rover and makes to run him down with it.
    • Carrigan gets one when she starts crossing over, realizing too late that Casper and Kat tricked her into doing it.
  • One-Winged Angel: Arguably, Carrigan when she first comes back as a ghost. The sight terrifies Dibs, and the audience doesn't even get to see anything besides the shadow of something very large towering over him.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Dibs. We only see his real name (Paul Plutzker) in the credits and in the DVD extra features.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Doctor Raymond Stantz has taken on far more formidable and aggressive ghosts. Several hardcore Ghostbusters fans often argue there is no way he would chicken out so easily. Then again, the Ghostly Trio aren't your typical ghosts (even Slimer was never like that).
  • Otherworldly Visits Youngest First: even though the Whipstaff Manor was rumoured to be haunted from the get-go and characters occasionally experienced weird stuff in there (such as being Covered in Gunge or having their head reversed) the first person to actually see the ghosts is Kat, a teenage girl. It doesn't take long for her father to learn the truth, though.
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: Carrigan expected to inherit way more than she did. Her father left almost everything to charity with only Whipstaff Manor going to his daughter. After learning this, Carrigan snaps at Dibs for not forging the will like she wanted to.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Vic helps Kat open her locker this way when the door sticks. He explains he had that same locker the previous year.
  • Pet the Dog: Three examples from the Ghostly Trio:
    • First, they follow up their promise to James and send Amelia to him.
    • Second, they scare away Vic and Amber before they can crash Kat's party. This could also double as them just wanting to scare someone, though.
    • And finally, they don't crash the party themselves, something Kat had been explicitly afraid they would do. In fact, they happily play music for the Harveys to dance to at the very end of the film - once Casper has accidentally scared the other partygoers away.
  • Pinky Swear: Between Kat and her father in the beginning, when James promises her that if he doesn't find her mom's spirit in Whipstaff, he'll stop looking.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Dr. James Harvey's initial interactions with Casper and the Ghostly Trio make it obvious that - despite being a "paranormal psychologist" - he'd never seen an actual ghost before. But he may have felt their presence in his previous cases.
  • Pixellation: An in-universe example. During the news report on Dr. Harvey, the widow of one of his previous clients is shown with her face censored out this way, presumably to protect her identity.
  • Posthumous Character: All of the ghosts (obviously), Amelia, Casper's father, and Carrigan's deceased father. Dr. Harvey went on a Wild Goose Chase with Kat trying to find Amelia, who he thought came back as a ghost. Casper's father built the Lazarus machine that later brings Dr. Harvey back to life. Carrigan's father left her Whipstaff in his will, setting the plot in motion.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Dibs' "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Carrigan is interrupted when she says, "And you have a flight to catch!" before sending him out of a window.
  • Precision F-Strike: Both Carrigan and Dibs' respective use of the word "bitch" in reference to Carrigan herself.
  • Premiseville: A movie with An Aesop about friendship is set in Friendship, Maine. James even lampshades this when Kat talks about wanting to be in one place long enough to make friends.
  • Product Placement: At one point, Stretch morphs his head into a shoe to kick Casper with. The shoe clearly has the Nike logo on it.
  • Promise Me You Won't X: When Casper encounters Kat again the morning after their first meeting, she immediately prepares to scream, so he covers her mouth and begs her not to because the noise will wake up his uncles.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • Dr. Harvey gives one to Stretch when fending him off on the stairs with the plunger: "Dr. James! Harvey! Your! Therapist!"
    • Stretch gives one to Casper at breakfast the next morning: "Give me! MY! MEAL!"
  • Really Moves Around: The Harveys, due to James searching for the ghost of his dead wife. In their introduction, Kat bemoans having gone to nine different schools in the span of two years.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: To Carrigan from Dibs, after he gets fed up with her and decides to take the treasure for himself.
    Dibs: Carrigan, if there's one thing I've learned from you, it's "Always kick 'em when they're down." And baby? You're six feet under! Oh what a shame! [takes out the Elixir] Sorry sweetheart. We're through. [aims to pitch it]
    Carrigan: [gasps in horror] I am NOT going to forget this, you ungrateful, lousy little worm, you!
    Dibs: [laughs] You can haunt me all you want, but it's going to 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!"
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: It is revealed that Casper's father invented a serum that can bring back the dead. Unfortunately, there is only enough for it to be used once and it is all used in bringing back Dr. Harvey. Not once does it occur to anyone to bring the formula to a scientist who could replicate it. It's worth noting that in the scene where the formula is first revealed, there's clearly a second bottle next to it with a small amount of the formula in it...
  • Reverse Psychology: Kat and Casper use this to convince Carrigan's ghost to cross over.
  • Rich Bitch:
    • Amber's family owns a boat house.
    • Carrigan herself is implied also to be this, well, that is, at least was formerly. No question to fitting the bill if she ever were rich.
  • Ruder and Cruder: Though Casper the Friendly Ghost is aimed at younger children, this film adaptation is rated PG for including Toilet Humor and swearing such as "hell," "damn," and even "bitch."
  • Say My Name: Dibs calls out Carrigan's name repeatedly, often when she is throwing him under the bus.
  • Scare Dare: Apparently the case with Nicky and Andreas, the two boys in the beginning of the film. They sneak into Whipstaff with the plan of taking a picture of themselves to prove to the other kids at their school that they were there, but things go wrong when they start arguing about who should be the one to take the picture.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Amber and Vic pull one of these on the night of the Halloween dance after being scared off by the Ghostly Trio.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: Carrigan proclaims she has no unfinished business as a ghost, causing her to cross over.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Dibs is mainly seen in suits.
  • Shout-Out:
    Ray: Who you gonna call? ...Someone else!
  • Sitting on the Roof: Casper and Kat talk while sitting on the roof of a lighthouse in one scene.
  • Skewed Priorities: Dibs' response to Carrigan falling off a cliff is to dryly lament that she had his favorite sunglasses.
  • So Proud of You: After Casper gives up his chance of bringing himself back to life so he can do the same to Dr. Harvey, Amelia appears to him and tells him that his own father is very proud of him, not only for his noble act, but also because he fulfilled his father's dream of getting the Lazarus machine to work.
  • Someone's Touching My Butt: Just after the Ghostly Trio have been sucked into a vacuum cleaner and are, for some reason, temporarily stuck inside the bag...
    Stretch: Who's got their pointy head up my
    Fatso: That's not my head.
  • Spear Carrier: Nicky and Andreas, the two boys in the opening scene. Their sole purpose is to get into Whipstaff for a dare and introduce Casper early on and to establish the latter's friendly personality, even though it ends up scaring them away.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Casper can be seen as this towards Kat, at first. Encouraged by Casper's creepy-yet-oddly-sweet question "Can I keep you?", which can come across as stalker-like or merely him asking, in his own odd way, "Will you stay and be my friend?" Justified in that he has had no social interaction with anyone save his nasty uncles since becoming a ghost and is starved for affection.
  • Starring Special Effects: Has the distinction of being the first movie where the title character is CG.
  • Tagline: A few were used in the film's marketing.
    • "Seeing is believing."
    • "Get an afterlife."
    • "No such thing as ghosts?"
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: While Dr. Harvey does find real ghosts, he ends up no closer to finding his wife's spirit. Dying and coming back from the dead convinces him that being alive for Kat is the most important thing right now. Amelia then visits him, and their conversation allows Dr. Harvey to move on from her death.
  • Take That!: Quite a few, considering it was written by Sherri Stoner and Deanna Oliver, two veterans of the Warner Bros. Animation Silver Age. Jabs at Oprah, Mark Wahlberg, and the like are commonplace.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: A variation. With Carrigan a ghost and in possession of the treasure and the Lazarus formula, Kat and Casper use Reverse Psychology to convince her to cross over.
  • Technical Euphemism: Dr. Harvey once notes that he considers the terms "ghost" and "dead" to be rude and prefers the phrase "living impaired".
  • Terrible Trio: The Ghostly Trio. Although they're astonishingly competent for secondary antagonists - though they have had over 100 years to perfect the art.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: After Casper gives up his chance to return to life so he can revive Dr. Harvey because Kat can't live without her father, Amelia rewards him by temporarily allowing him to return to life and attend the Halloween dance with Kat. Considering how much Casper wanted to do this earlier, this means a lot.
  • Tied-Together-Shoelace Trip: Casper does this to everyone in Kat's class after she is taunted. When the bell rings at the end of the scene, everyone gets up and immediately falls over.
  • Totem Pole Trench: Employed by Vic and Amber in order to play a prank on Kat at the dance.
  • Transformation of the Possessed: When Dr. Harvey is possessed by the Ghostly Trio, they transform him into Clint Eastwood, Rodney Dangerfield, Mel Gibson and the Crypt Keeper. Though it's not exactly made clear whether this was actually happening, or if it was just a hallucination.
  • Tuckerization: James and Kat get the last name 'Harvey' after Harvey Comics - a long time publisher of Casper the Friendly Ghost.
  • Unfinished Business: What keeps ghosts from crossing over.
  • Villain Opening Scene: The first ten minutes of the movie focus on Carrigan and Dibs, setting up their problem of wanting to get rid of the Ghostly Trio.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Carrigan has this after becoming a ghost when, after she gloats at Casper and Kat that she has no unfinished business (see above), she suddenly crosses over and, amid feverishly trying to take it back, she starts screaming at Kat and Casper for tricking her as she does so.
  • Villainous Crush: Casper's uncles think Amelia is pretty hot and Stretch asks Dr. Harvey if she's single.
  • Villainous Face Hold: Carrigan and Dibs do this to Kat while introducing themselves to the Harveys.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The Ghostly Trio are this with all their "friends", as well as to each other at times.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Carrigan's voice sounds deep and manly. What else can you expect from Cathy Moriarty?
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": Dibs tells Carrigan that when he's rich from the treasure, he'll get a little dog, and name it after her.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Dibs' fate is not revealed, though as he was pitched out of a window, he's most likely dead.
  • What's He Got That I Ain't Got?!: Casper playfully asks Kat this of Vic.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Played with. This time, it's ten, not twelve.
    Casper: Hey, Cinderella got until midnight!
    Amelia: (smiles) Cinderella wasn't twelve years old.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: When Kat finds the Trio's beds, with their names, Fatso, Stinkie, and Stretch, she comments that they had cruel parents.
  • Who You Gonna Call?: To exorcise the house? Ultimately, Dr. Harvey, but Carrigan tries a few other professionals first. One of the trope namers even drops by to give a lampshade ("Who you gonna call? Someone else.").
  • Worthless Treasure Twist: The treasure that Carrigan and Dibs had spent the whole movie hunting down, going through extreme lengths to obtain was just some baseball signed by one of the Brooklyn Dodgers (Casper's favorite team) that Casper and his dad used as the "treasure" whenever they played pirates. The baseball actually would have been worth some money, but probably not as much as Carrigan and Dibs would have wanted, though they probably would've gotten a lot more if they took credit for Casper's father's Lazarus.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Just try to work out what time period Casper lived in.
    • Mainly, the problem is that darn Duke Snider autographed baseball. Duke Snider began his baseball career in the 1940s, but everything else in the film implies that Casper lived sometime around 1900. The art direction gives a decidedly late Victorian/Edwardian look to the artifacts from Casper's lifetime. The trailer outright says, "for one hundred years, he has wandered the halls of Whipstaff Manor", again suggesting a turn-of-the-twentieth-century setting for Casper's life. So where did the Duke Snider baseball come from? Did Casper acquire it some fifty years after his death? Yes According to the film's trailer, Casper has been dead for over one hundred years, but the fact that he owns a baseball autographed by Duke Snider, which he could not have got before Duke Snider joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Not only that but two of the newspapers that Kat finds in the attic have dates: The first one states "McFadden youth dies" and is dated January 14, 1895, the second one reads "Mysterious activity at Whipstaff Manor" which is dated six months later on June 14. Which means Casper dead 52 years before Duke Snider joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. The sequel animated series actually has Casper mention that he's turning 113 in April. It also mentions that Casper took an interest in baseball after he died because he used to travel around collecting baseball players' autographs. It's possible that Casper placed the Duke Snider baseball in the vault and simply forgot about its location.
    • The script for the movie has the ball being signed by Dan Brouthers, who played two seasons (1892-1893) for the Brooklyn Grooms, the team now known as the Dodgers. This aligns neatly with Casper dying in January 1895. The writers seem to have done their research, so the change to 'Duke Snider' must have been made at some point during production/post-production, presumably because Snider was a player audiences could more easily recognise as one of baseball's greats.
    • Early in the film Mr. Rugg said that Whipstaff Manor was "lousy fifty years it's condemned." The film was made in the 1990s, so fifty years ago would be the 1940s, making the house "lousy" 45 years after Casper was dead.
    • When was that television (a color television, no less) installed?
    • People may have attempted to live in Whipstaff during the century between Casper's death and the film's present day, leading to periodic renovations and refurbishments before the Ghostly Trio inevitably drove any potential residents out. Further proof of modernisation is the scene where Kat hotwires the fusebox, showing that Whipstaff is connected to the mains electricity, a utility that would not have existed in 1890s rural Maine. Indeed, the script identifies the machine Dr. Harvey is trying to make work in the fusebox scene as 'an ancient generator', confirming that at one time Whipstaff depended on an on-site source of electrical power.
    • To add to the confusion, a direct-to-video "prequel" portrayed him becoming a ghost in The Present Day. The only possible explanation for this is that after his father passed away, he was taken to the train. During the trip, time moves faster. After falling off the train, all the shorts and specials happen. Then he wanders to the town where he meets the boy Chris. Casper did say to Kat that he "didn't go where" he "was supposed to go", and he didn't. Though they can all be explained away by Broad Strokes and Hand Waves.
  • You Won't Feel a Thing!:
    Carrigan Crittenden: [stalking after Dibs, carrying a huge battle axe] Damn it, Dibs! This won't hurt a bit!

Alternative Title(s): Casper The Friendly Ghost


Casper Doesn't Remember

Casper has no memories of his life.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / GhostAmnesia

Media sources: