'Casper'

For the first time in ages, I watched the 1995 film "Casper."

Thanks to childhood innocence, I was distracted by the goofy gags, but watching it again in adulthood, I’ve come away with one definite conclusion: Dr. James Harvey is a fraud.

As the movie explains early on, psychologist Dr. Harvey’s wife suddenly died by some unknown means two years ago. Ever since then, the man has been on a mission searching across the country for her ghost, dragging their teenage daughter with him all the way.

From what I can see, other people online have noted that Harvey is a selfish individual – maybe understandably so after such a loss – but no one seems to have caught on that for the last few years before the movie takes place, he’s probably been scamming other grief-stricken people just like him.

He’s billed himself as a ghost psychologist, a doctor for the “living impaired” as he calls them. In the news segment explaining all this, they also play some testimony from one of his clients, an elderly widow who says that Dr. Harvey helped bring peace to her departed husband’s spirit, who was then able to “cross over.”

But what’s his first reaction to hearing his ghost-skeptic daughter’s frantic claims that she’s seen a ghost in her room after moving into the haunted Whipstaff Manor? Disbelief. An odd initial reaction for someone who’s been making ghosts his career.

What’s his first reaction when he sees Casper hiding in the room’s closet? He screams. Then he grabs his daughter and runs.

You would think that someone who has been doing this for a couple years wouldn’t get so spooked so easily.

Although Dr. Harvey seems to adapt to the situation well enough, acting as psychologist for Casper’s three trickster uncles, it’s clear from his first night at the haunted mansion that interacting with spirits is new to him.