Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
It's easy to see why Casper the Friendly Ghost has such an appeal for small children. They have so much in common with him, since they, too, feel invisible and misunderstood and remember little of their earlier lives. He is reassuring; in a universe of scary ghosts, it's nice to know there's one on your side. The Casper comics did not survive into the current age of megadoom superheroes, but their memory did, and now here is "Casper," a high-tech special-effects extravaganza starring His Friendliness.
There's been a lot of speculation about the coming age of computerized performances in the movies, when we will see whole characters made up of bits and bytes. Jessica Rabbit was such a creation, and now Casper and his uncles - Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso - dominate a movie that essentially stars computer programming.
Ghosts offer, to be sure, certain advantages to the programmers, since their bodies are soft and changeable, but their faces display a full range of emotion, and they are as real as the human characters in the film - which is, I suppose, a two-edged compliment.
As the movie opens, a rich man's daughter named Carrigan (Cathy Moriarty) learns that her father has left her nothing in his will, except for crumbling Whipstaff Manor in Maine. She's enraged, until her assistant, Dibs (Eric Idle), discovers a secret message suggesting that a vast treasure may be hidden there. They leave immediately for Maine - where, of course, it turns out that Whipstaff Manor is haunted.