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With computer-generated effects having reached a noticeable level of sophistication in the mid-90's, more and more films decided to use CGI in a bold way including Jumanji and Casper, both released the same year. The latter also jumping on the old cartoon/comic-book remake bandwagon.

While critics were generally lukewarm towards this movie, audiences flocked to it making Casper a significant box-office hit back in 1995. The film opens with the obligatory nod to the classic cartoons as a group of kids enter a creepy mansion, take one look at the typically friendly Casper and freak out completely. We are then introduced to paranormal therapist Dr. James Harvey (Bill Pullman) and his daughter Kat (Christina Ricci) as Casper encourages them to visit him and they are hired by shady haunted mansion owner Carrigan (Cathy Moriarty) to get rid of its ghosts once and for all. Casper takes a shine to Kat but his Ghostly Trio "uncles" Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso start to cause mayhem in the house, making this exorcism impossible for Dr. Harvey. Director Brad Silberling brings an appealingly gloomy yet bright and fun look to the film and, even though looking back they are a bit dated, the effects are still quite ambitious for the time and they work quite well.

This is a rather cartoonish and silly film so don't expect it to say anything meaningful or change your life in any way: it's one of those kids' movies that's spooky enough that it's worthy to watch on Halloween but not actually scary at all so anyone can sit back and enjoy it. There are quite a few jokes in there for adults too, from the many celebrity cameos to the fact that characters start to die in ridiculous ways in the third act. You could nitpick the plot to death as it starts to make less and less sense in its second half but it never becomes hard to follow or annoying so even if this movie's not for you, at least you won't throw the remote at your television. Casper has some charm to it, it looks great, the cast is likeable and it's altogether a harmless enough Halloween-friendly live-action cartoon that works much better than others like, say Garfield or Mr. Magoo. As an adaptation of Casper The Friendly Ghost, it's hard to imagine that anyone could have done much better.

While this isn't really the kind of film I would encourage you go out of your way to track down and see, it's still an enjoyably goofy ghost movie with some nice visuals and just enough charm and laughs to make it a fun watch for kids and even adults.

Not bad.

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