Casper the friendly ghost, as he is famous for introducing himself in this child-friendly movie about death, losing family members, surviving loss, grieving, the concept of life after death, and even doing the right thing, even when the stakes are literally life or death.
Casper gives us a husband who has not accepted the loss of his beloved wife and has destroyed his reputation and his and his daughter’s lives trying to reconnect with his wife after her death. He becomes a ghost psychiatrist and focuses on helping those spirits with “unfinished business” tie up loose ends from their human lives and move on…or so we’re told. I find this to be a little ironic given his fearful reaction to being confronted by the ghosts that haunt the abandoned mansion that he moves he and his daughter into. If he has rededicated his life to helping ghosts move on…then why is he so afraid of them at first? shrugs
Moving on…One thing I was wondering is how Casper and his three uncles all ended up dead and turned into ghosts. My suspicion is that the uncles, as unlikeable as they are, were all murdered in a single “accident” possibly also in search for this alleged fortune that Kat’s aunt was also after.
I did not remember much about this movie from my childhood and had wondered if they ever said what killed Casper in the first place. While we do learn that Casper perished from a mysterious disease after he was taken sledding by his father, we never do find out what Casper’s unfinished business is. I was thinking, at first, that he had always dreamed of finding love or having a real friend, until we get to the end of the movie and he’s danced with Kat (or Cat, who the hell knows how she spells it?) and he turns back into a ghost and the movie ends and you’re still left wondering what in the hell he didn’t do in life that kept haunting him after death. It is possibly the simple fact that Casper died as a child and had so many things left to do in his life, which was cut very short by his death.
I did notice that although both of Casper’s parents died, neither of them became ghosts. I suspect that Casper’s father completed his mission of creating an invention to bring back the dead, which also implies that Casper’s father also believed in the existence of ghosts. From what we can see in the movie, his Lazarus machine only works on ghosts, which says to me that Casper might also have stuck around to be with his father, who also ruined his reputation by letting his obsession with bringing his son back from the dead take over his life and work. It’s impossible not to notice this similarity with Kat, whose own father did the exact same thing and who also lost her mother.
After an hour of really depressing, “let’s talk about our dead mothers” stories and bonding between the living and the undead, we finally get to see Kat’s mother who shows herself after Casper sacrifices his only chance to be brought back to life in order to save Kat’s grieving, drunk, recently dead, ghost father. An act of love and compassion for it is clear to us that Kat needs her father and has no one else to take care of her and, if you’re really paying attention, you also realize that she had become an orphan when her father died. This is something I do not remember noticing from my childhood and hurt my goddamn feelings when it occured to me during last night’s viewing. Let me also point out that, although Kat’s father’s death was a drunken accident, it occurs when he drinks far too much and is talking about his wife. This further tells me just how intense his grieving process has been and this scene where he opens up to Casper’s three ghost uncles is very validating for him as, these ghosts (and Kat) are the only ones in the world who do not think he is crazy.
When Kat’s father finally gets the chance to talk to his lost wife, she says, “You loved me so well when I was alive that I have no unfinished business. Don’t let me be yours.” Guess what little bitch almost started crying. This little bitch right here. I’m not ashamed. You can see the acceptance come across his face as he finally comes to peace with his wife’s death. She also mentions that “three ghosts kept their word” or however it’s phrased, which tells me that Casper’s uncles, while foul and generally unfriendly, actually care about Kat’s father and are capable of true friendship and kindness…though they don’t show any of that to Casper, they did give Kat’s father this last moment to speak with his wife from beyond the grave.
One of the singular phrases that I have remembered all these years since I’d last seen Casper was, “Can I keep you?” Who in the hell knows what that actually means, given that Casper is a ghost and as such, is not capable of “keeping” anything, but it has always been whispered in my mind like a promise of something eternal and intangible, but wholly reliable. In his own way, Casper does “keep” Kat. He shows that he cares about her by sacrificing his chance to regain his body in order to do what is best for her and also makes her Hallowe
en party memorable for her by treating her with kindness and making her feel special and loved by another child (a peer) for the first time since her mother died.
This movie does also did also make me wonder why Casper’s father didn’t stay behind and become a ghost so that he could stay with Casper, but, I believe that, like Kat’s mother, Casper’s father was well-loved during his lifetime and, before he died, he did figure out how to bring ghosts back from the dead. I am under the impression that Casper clearly was around while his father was creating the Lazarus machine (as I mentioned earlier), as he had to believe in th existence of ghosts in order to be set on the mission to bring thm back from the dead in the first place. I said all of that to say that it is possible that his invention only works on the freshly dead, which would explain why he did not bring Casper back from the dead; it took Casper’s death for Casper’s father to get the idea to create the Lazarus machine, and by the time he figured out how to make it work, Casper had been dead for too long for it to be of any benefit to him. Either this was the case, or the machine worked, but Casper’s father couldn’t quite figure out the exact process needed for it to function properly.
I’ll give this another watch alone this time with no screaming toddlers running around for further analysis as I was very skeptical about Netflix’s average 5 star rating, but from what I experienced during last night’s watching, it is a well-rounded, emotional film with warm bits of dark comedy to keep the movie viewer(s) engaged in the story.
*I’ve been informed that that wicked woman was not actually related to Kat. She was just trying to get in good with Kat for the goodies. Imagine my shock. ??