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Rich Bitch 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 spooky mansion. After finding that the house may contain treasure, she drags her Battle Butler Dibbs (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 movie.
The movie didn't do well with the critics (Roger Ebert being a notable exception), but nevertheless gained a bit of a cult following.
The DTV sequels, on the other hand, were far more commonly agreed to be much lower quality, both in terms of effects and plot, probably because they had absolutely nothing to do with the original movie except for the titular ghost.
The movie was the basis for the short-lived animated series The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper.
- Adorkable: Bill Pullman as Dr. James Harvey
- An Aesop: About friendship, with a good example (Casper and Kat), and a dysfunctional example (Carrigan and Dibbs) and a creepy example (the Ghostly Trio and Dr Harvey).
- Alliterative Name: Carrigan Crittenden.
- All That Glitters
- Alpha Bitch: Amber.
- Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: There's enough language to justify its PG rating.
- Battle Butler: Eric Idle's character Dibbs. It's never explained what his relationship to Carrigan is or why he follows her around and takes her abuse.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Carrigan Crittenden all the way.
- 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. But they change their minds.
- Boo Meets Girl
- Butt Monkey: Paul "Dibbs" Plutzker.
- California Doubling: Friendship, Maine, the setting of the film, is a real place, but none of the movie was shot there. The downtown scenes were filmed in the more touristy Rockport, Maine while most of the movie, including all the scenes involving Whipstaff, were filmed in California.
- Cut Song: "Lucky Enough to be a Ghost".
- Dawson Casting: Averted; all of the teenagers are played by actors between the ages of 13 and 15 and Casper's voice actor is 14 with the actor portraying his briefly restored body just about pushing it at 17.
- Deadpan Snarker: Kat at times.
- Died Happily Ever After: Kat's mom.
- Disney Villain Death: Carrigan. Not that it stops her...
- Even Evil Has Standards: Right after the Ghostly Trio decide they want to kill James so his ghost can join their gang, James (drunkenly) tells them he won't help Carrigan evict them from the manor, and declares them to be his best friends. They declare they just can't croak him right in front of him.
- Evil Laugh: Carrigan, in ghost form.
- Fly At the Camera Ending: The movie ends with Casper flying up to the camera, winking, spelling out "The End", then the friendly ghost apparently trying to devour the audience.
- Four-Fingered Hands: Lampshaded.
- "Friend or Idol?" Decision
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "There's a girl...on my bed... Yes!"
- "Hey, boys! We got a closet case here!"
- The following exchange:
Kat: I want to look...nice.
Kat: Like... Like date nice.
James: Really? Uh...Honey, I think maybe it's time that we...sat down and...
Kat: It's a little late for that, Dad.
James: How late?
Kat: Oh, don't worry. Not that late.
- There's also a surprisingly funny one in one of the sequels. The school principal runs out of the bathroom, pants still down, after being scared by Casper. He runs up to a woman staff member, grabs her and says "I need you!". She looks down at his boxers, screams, and slaps the principal across the face.
- Ghost Amnesia: Casper and Dr. Harvey, until their respective memories get jogged. Averted with Carrigan, for some reason.
- Ghostly Chill: "Casper, close the window, it's cold."
- Glamour Failure: Ghosts don't have reflections. Kat dryly comments this is one reason she's not dating Casper. ILM probably considered it a way to save money on the CGI.
- Probably not just that; it's a pretty common belief that ghosts don't have reflections anyway.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Carrigan smokes and is definitely evil.
- Greater Need Than Mine
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Robert Barone, President Whitmore, and that funny British dude. Also in the first movie, human!Casper is portrayed by Devon Sawa, who would later portray Alex Browning.
- A then unknown Hilary Duff playing Wendy in the third movie.
- Haunted Headquarters
- 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.
- Hurricane Of Incredibly Lame Puns: The Ghostly Trio are full of them.
Fatso: [being sucked into a vacuum cleaner] This sucks!
Kat: You guys are disgusting, obnoxious creeps!
Ghostly Trio: ...Thank you!
- Jerkasses --> Jerks With Hearts of Gold: Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso.
- Jerk Jock: Vic DePhillippi.
- Karma Houdini: Vic and Amber get scared out of the party, before they could play their prank, by the Ghostly Trio. However, Kat looks on in confusion and praised by her guests, and without a date, until Casper shows up briefly alive.
- Live Action Adaptation
- Logo Joke: The Universal globe turns into the moon.
- Money, Dear Boy: The only explanation for the celebrity cameos. Or the long-term presence of Eric Idle.
- Mythology Gag: Kat and her father's surname is Harvey. Casper the Friendly Ghost was originally published by Harvey Comics, which was defunct by the time this film was made.
- As Casper was watching TV, it showed a clip from a Casper cartoon where the old woman (who lives in a shoe) screams "G-G-G-GHOOST!!" with chattering teeth.
- One Winged Angel: Carrigan after becoming a ghost.
- Pet the Dog: The Ghostly Trio keep the promise they made and find Kat's mom.
- Pinky Swear
- Premiseville: A movie with An Aesop about friendship is set in Friendship, Maine.
- Promise Me You Won't X
- Rich Bitch
- Rube Goldberg Device: The "Up'n'at'em" machine.
- Scaled Up: Carrigan, after she becomes a ghost.
- Shallow Love Interest: Vic DePhillippi.
- 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.
- Starring Special Effects: Has the distinction of being the first movie where the title character is CG.
- Steampunk: Casper's father's secret laboratory.
- 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.
- Terrible Trio: The Ghostly Trio. Although they're astonishingly competant for secondary antagonists - though they have had over 100 years to perfect the art.
- The Igor: Dibbs.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: To Carrigan from Dibbs, after he gets fed up with her and decides to take the treasure for himself.
Dibbs: 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 Elixer] 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!
Dibbs: [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!"
- Unfinished Business
- We Named the Monkey "Jack" Dibbs tells Carrigan that when he's rich from the treasure, he'll get a little dog, and name it after her.
- When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Played with.
- 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.
- 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, particularly the art direction, suggests Casper lived sometime around 1900. To add to the confusion, a direct-to-video "prequel" portrayed him becoming a ghost in The Present Day.
- The only possible explanation for the "prequel" 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 explain away by Broad Strokes and Hand Waves.