Casper Meets Wendy [1998]

The creepiest thing about Casper Meets Wendy is the title characters' romance--bashful, cutie pie Casper shouldn't be prone to weaknesses of the flesh (he is, after all, a ghost). And he's entirely too childlike to take up with a witch even of Wendy's decidedly non-wicked order. Still, sparks fly in this madcap jumble of a film, and so do the sort of zippy one-liners and presto-type magic tricks that'll keep kids from 6 to 12 spellbound. The plot is paper-thin: head honcho warlock Desmond Spellman (George Hamilton) is obsessed with offing Wendy (Hilary Duff) after an oracle proclaims her powers to be on the upswing. He sends two goons to capture her at the Sunny Brite resort, where she and her haggish aunts (Teri Garr, Cathy Moriarty, and Shelley Duvall) are in hiding and where Casper and his trouble-making uncles are vacationing and causing random calamities. While Wendy and Casper hit it off, their more traditional-minded relations show off and swap insults. Nevertheless, the ghosts harbor a hush-hush respect the witches' unruliness, and it rears its head at just the right moment--when Wendy's about to be vaporized in Spellman's swirling vortex of doom. Were it not mildly fun to watch the trio of well-established older actresses suit up in witch costumes and crack wise, adults would find this film bordering on the unbearable. Kids, on the other hand, will want to set the record straight on its spook-tacularness. --Tammy La Gorce

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