Casper: A Spirited Beginning (1997)

I, for one, quite loved the big screen reboot of “Casper” with Christina Ricci. As a kid I loved its human elements and fun atmosphere. And then they kind of ruined it with a bunch of direct to video sequels and prequels that stunk. “A Spirited Beginning” is one of many that completely copies the formula of the original movie, with performances that are oh so much worse.

In place of Christina Ricci and Bill Pullman we get Steve Gutenberg and Brendan Ryan Barrett, both of whom are just unbearable at times. The special effects also take a beating with Casper and his other ghostly pals coming off like animated Gifs from a Windows 95 program. Set before the movie, Casper is thrown off of a ghost train and lands in a small town where he takes up residence at a house where young Chris lives with his workaholic father. Young Chris introduces Casper to the trio of phantoms known as Stinky, Fatso, and Stretch. They invite Casper to take up residence in their mansion to learn how to scare people.

This doesn’t make a lot of sense since in the original movie following this one, presumably, we learn Casper died in this mansion as a child. It’s also implied the phantoms were Casper’s uncles or something of close relations to him. Sadly the trio must avoid the ghoulish phantom Kibosh, while also trying to save the mansion from being torn down by the city. “A Spirited Beginning” touts itself as something of a prequel to Casper, but nothing is ever explained or clarified for us. It’s just a lot of going through the motions for the sake of Saban cashing in on this property, with likely a quarter of the budget of the Christina Ricci movie, It’s terrible, and I wouldn’t suggest it, unless you’re dead set on catching every single cinematic appearance by Richard Moll.