When Halloween ends it is usually only 55 days until Christmas, that may not seem like a lot of time, especially as adverts that signal the holidays are played earlier and earlier each year. While the two may not appear to have much of a thematic overlap, there has been an increasing trend of combing the two holidays together. In 2000, the friendliest ghost you’ll know, and the Ghostly Trio will soon learn the true meaning of their most despised holiday, and a young girl will soon make a new friend, in Casper’s Haunted Christmas.
Being a friendly ghost, Casper’s scare quota is lower than what it should be, to avoid banishment he must scare at least somebody before Xmas day. The trio, are sent to the Xmas-obsessed community of Kriss, Massachusetts (get it?), where they have been banished because of their aversion to all things Christmas. It is here Casper meets Holly Jolliwell, a young girl who certainly lives up to her name in terms of holiday cheer. While dealing with lookalike cousins and looming deadlines, it will take a miracle of the season to stop Casper and his uncles, from being banished to the dark.
While there have been a fair few modern direct-to-video sequels of Casper, they have typically been a combination of animation and live-action since its reintroduction in 1995. The move to a fully solid computer-animated film is a creative leap, one that helps to shine. On the visual front, the push for full 3.D. is interesting, the ghosts have more of a mist-like quality, and the ends resits do have comparable quality to other children’s 3.D. films of the time (especially the Direct-to-Video variety). The standout, however, goes to creating the festive community of Kriss, a town that also lives up to its name. With its perpetual snowiness, especially when the New English dusk starts to set in and give the area a noticeable warming glow.
Following on from the immense impact of Nightmare Before Christmas, A spooky holiday-themed instalment would have made a lot of sense. Voicing Casper in this film is Brendon Ryan Barrett. Who you might remember as Chris from A Spirited Beginning. The unlikely musical contribution of country music star Randy Travis, whose rendition of “Holly Jolliwell the Friendly Ghost” is still stuck in my brain. I have no idea why he was chosen, but his presence is welcome nonetheless. As he is also keen to get involved with animated projects, as his run-in with Peggy Hill would suggest. The film’s humour continues on the fun for the whole family, but that is to be expected, with co-writer, Ian Boothby, keeping the jokes appropriately levelled.
Although another Direct-to-Video offering, Casper does work with the holiday spirit, and the direct transition to 3.D. does allow a new dimension (no pun intended), to the character’s trademark attributes. With enough entertainment value to make the brief runtime of an hour and change a memorable outing for Casper and his pals. In Casper’s Haunted Christmas, will find the spirit of the holidays, hopefully in more ways than one.
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