1 November 2006 | coyets
Old-fashioned slapstick comedy for young children
The main reason I decided to see 'Casper meets Wendy' was the fact that it was the first one that Hilary Duff acted in apart from being an uncredited extra in 'True Women'.
The leading male character is Casper, an animated child ghost, and the leading female character is Wendy, a girl witch, played by the then inexperienced Hilary Duff. Although the plot, which is kept simple so that the target viewers, young children, have no difficulties in following it, is about the forbidden friendship between Casper and Wendy, in a way a prepubertal 'Romeo and Juliet', the main vehicles for humour are the adult witches and ghosts, the latter contributing many of the slapstick elements.
Adults watching this film, who may well be the parents of the members of the target group, may well find some amusement in the deadpan reactions of most of the adults who take no part in the storyline, but witness some of the extraordinary behaviour of the witches and ghosts. Many adults even enjoy some slapstick humour, and may well find it rewarding to see the more riotous scenes, particularly in the company of some members of the target group. The sartorially-minded will quite probably enjoy the frequent and extreme changes of clothing by the one child and three adult witches. Finally, it is quite interesting to see the main message of 'Romeo and Juliet', 'West Side Story', 'The Color of Friendship' and many other works of art, that it is wrong to stand in the way of friendships simply because two people have different backgrounds, conveyed by a film made for such young viewers.
The casting was brilliant. All of the characters seemed perfectly suited to their role in the proceedings. As the star of the non-animated cast, Hilary Duff displayed a sufficient variety of emotions to keep the viewer involved in the uncomplicated story, while avoiding extremities which could have extended the film into something too dramatic for very young children. It would be unfair, however, to compare her performance with that of the then inexperienced Reese Witherspoon in 'The Man in the Moon', which is of necessity a far more mature and rounded portrayal of the leading character, since it is a very moving and dramatic story. Apart from that, Reese Witherspoon was a few years older when she played the role of Dani Trant.
Personally, I got rather bored by so many slapstick scenes in 'Casper meets Wendy', but I have seen many films that are a lot worse.