Directed by: Bruce McCarthy and Sean McNamara
Starring: Shelly Duvall, Teri Garr, Cathy Moriarty, George Hamilton, Hilary Duff, Pauly Shore, Richard Moll, and Vincent Schiavelli
- Making-of featurette
Released by: 20th Century Fox
My Advice: Get it for your kids.
In the grand old tradition of Snow White, evil witch Desmond consults his magic mirror and discovers that he is not the most powerful witch in the world–sweet little good witch Wendy is, or at least has the potential to be the greatest when she teams up with a ghost. When he makes a failed hit on Wendy, the precocious youth and her aunts go into hiding at the Sunny Brite resort…where Casper and his uncles have just arrived for some well-deserved rest. Even though witches and ghosts are supposed to hate each other, Wendy and Casper start up something of a little supernatural romance and team up to stop the dastardly Desmond from offing Wendy.
[ad#longpost]The plot may be nothing to write home about, but it’s fun and charming, and sometimes that’s what we really need from a film. Don’t look to this plot for anything more than slightly cheesy fun, and you’ll be pleased with what you get. It is genuinely funny in places, especially when the bad guys give up the pratfalls. The best moments come with Casper’s ghostly uncles and Wendy’s witchy aunts.
The acting in a lot of kids’ movies seems to be more like just going through the motions, but these actors put some heart into this one. George Hamilton, who is always wonderful as the comic, smarmy bad guy, is predictably good here as the wicked Desmond. Duvall is especially good as the vampy aunt, but all three of the actresses rise to the occasion and make the aunts great fun to watch prance and strut across the camera. The weakest link here is Duff as Wendy, but even she succeeds in being cute when she couldn’t be moving; it’s hard to ask for more than that from a ten-year-old, even in a starring role. Richard Moll and Vince Schiavelli as Desmond’s side-kicks are also quite amusing and should have been given a bit more to do.
The features are mediocre, but here. The featurette, at approximately six minutes, is more of an ad than a real look into how things were done, but it’s still interesting in places for those viewers who want to know how things like blue screens and computer effects work.
The audio and video are both nice and clear. Given that this film was made for TV recently, it looks about as good as a well-produced TV movie usually looks. The colors are nice and bright, and the special effects come across subtly in places, like the faint ripple when the ghosts go invisible. The interesting costumes of the witches add a nice visual accent to this film–except that I just don’t get Wendy’s red, poofy footie-pajamas as her main costume. I know that’s original to the comics years ago, but the kid deserves a break these days.
This film is, in short, more enjoyable and adorable than you might think. If you have kids or young daughters, then you’ll want to rent this one for them and probably buy it, and at least it will be more enjoyable for you to watch with them than a lot of other kids’ fare. Keep your eyes peeled for that Ben Stein cameo, and you’ll probably laugh out loud.