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May 31, 1995 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1995-05-31

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iu - i he Michigan Daily - Wednesday, May 31, 1995
'Casper"s merit is ghostly thin

-- -- I

By Ted Watts
Daily Arts Writer
Like "Jurassic Park," "Casper" is a
Steven Spielberg-related film that is
based on computer generated characters
that have been dead for quite awhile.
And the resemblance pretty much stops
there.
"Casper" begins with the evil
Carrigan Crittendon (Cathy Moriarty)
finding the condemned house she has
just inherited to have both treasure and
ghosts. To find the treasure, she needs to
get rid of the ghosts. So she hires wid-

Csperf
Directed by Brad Silver;
with Christina Ricci and
Bill Pullman
At Briarwood and Showcase
owed ghost psychologist Dr. Harvey (Bill
Pullman)to get the ghosts out of the house.
The doctor comes with his daughter Kat

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(Christina Ricci), whom Casper (voice of
Malachi Pearson), one of the resident
ghosts, has fallen for. The movie goes on
with the various interactions between the
Harvey's, Crittendon and her flunky law-
yer Dibs (Eric Idle), Casper and his three
not-too-seriously-malevolent uncles. You
know the story: Casper tries to make a
friend, his uncles try to screw it up, Casper
ultimately triumphs.
"The film's primary problem is that
its story just isn't played to the hilt. Mov-
ies made about kiddie comics or cartoons
need to be as over the top as their source
material is, but "Casper" tries to be too
realistic. Casper and his uncles are
played to type, Casper being a sopping
little goody two shoes (although with the
added twist of wanting to boff Kat) and
the uncles being bad with individual
traits you'd expect in ghosts named
Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso. It is almost
disgustingly sugary the way Casper
mopes around wishing he could have a
friend. But the humans are too complex
and realistic. Kat reacts to Casper more
as if he was hideously disfigured than as
if he were the living dead, running away
at first but accepting him ultimately on
the basis of his actions. Even villain
Crittendon acts with too much realistic
reserve, at least until the point when she
tries to kill her lawyer Dibs (Eric Idle). If
she only tried to poison the
townspeople's water or threatened some
puppies ...
A good side effect of attempting re-
alism is the string of cultural references.
From the uncles' re-enactment of the
witch melting in "The Wizard of Oz" to
the morphing appearances of Rodney
Dangerfield and the Crypt Keeper,
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HARVEY
Continued from page 9
struments on her latest album, "To Bring
You My Love") Harvey has proven her-
self as a skilled guitarist and artist; she's
"earned" the right to concentrate on her
singing and onstage performance.
Simply put, the show was a nonstop
highlight. The band tackled harder songs
like "Long Snake Moan" and "Driving"
with as much aplomb as they did quieter

"Casper" keeps stealing things from the Unfortunately, the effects that are the
nation's collective consciousness. ghosts are not as up to snuff. They look
Another positive aspect of the movie as if they are an uneasy amalgam of the
is the sets. Sort of a low-rent version of Stay Puff marshmallow man and the
Tim Burton's style, the look of the house spirits in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
is extremely angular. The walls' twisting They're just ugly, vaporous Gumbies. So
protrusions, the use of darkness, the pres- much for the advances of "Jurassic Park"
ence of never-existent technology, the. So, if you like postmodern stuff, re-
windows' high wrought iron content and ally good-looking furnishings or the idea
the overall dimensions of a late 19th cen- of a spirit with a hard-on for Wednesd
tury house all scream "We're spectral- from "The Addams Family," "Casper
gothic." There's even a Burtonesque spi- might be up your alley. But if not, well,
ral in the central ballroom. "Richie Rich" is out on video now.

songs like "Teclo"and "Down by the Wa-
ter." At the end of the rousing encore,
Harvey politely but firmly refused to
do another, saying "Thank you.
You've been lovely to perform for," in
a sweet, almost girlish tone radically
different from her powerful singir
voice. And in an odd way, lovely was
the right word to sum up the evening's
entertainment. It was as lovely as any-
thing as intense and powerful as PJ
Harvey could be.

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