Casper Meets Wendy

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Casper Meets Wendy

When Disney produced a direct-to-video sequel to Aladdin a couple years back, it served notice to major studios that shitloads of money can be made producing cheap direct-to-video sequels to popular family films. These films may not have the budget or high profile of theatrical releases, but they boast a brand name and usually feature vaguely recognizable actors; in the kiddie-video ghetto, that's usually more than enough to catch the eye of weary parents and children with low expectations. Fox's second direct-to-video sequel to Casper, Casper Meets Wendy, stars Hilary Duff as the titular li'l witch, a sassy young woman who travels with her three aunts (Cathy Moriarty, Shelley Duvall, and Teri Garr) to a resort, where she meets Casper, a supernaturally amiable ghost who is tormented by three uncles who fail to appreciate his kindly nature. It's pretty much a given that this sort of film is godawful, but Casper Meets Wendy is such a shrill, soulless toy commercial of a movie that it's all but unwatchable. The original Casper wasn't exactly a great film, but its morbid subtext—Casper is essentially a dead child, destined to roam the earth forever—at least kept it interesting. Casper Meets Wendy, on the other hand, seems to take its cues from the irritating performance of Duff, who performs with the overbearing, psychotic cheerfulness of a distaff Olsen twin. Duff at least has the excuse of being both a child and a film neophyte. Moriarty, Duvall, and Garr, on the other hand, have no excuse for turning in performances that are essentially grotesque self-caricatures. Casper Meets Wendy does, however, boast cameos from such high-wattage stars as Casper Van Dien, Alan Thicke, Pauly Shore, and Ben Stein.

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