I always find it surprising how deeply children’s stories dive into the macabre or dark areas of life, as though they either are not bothered by them in the slightest, or alternately are more evil themselves then we as adults might consider. Be warned now. For, when a movie has the primary attraction of having ghosts as the protagonists; it might lead one to imagine that death inevitably has to feature largely as well, but with bright, excited antics, and a colourful arrangement of characters, The Great Ghost Rescue manages to avoid lingering in that area for too long. And I suppose, after all, Casper never scarred anyone either, did he?
The story is based on a children’s book from 1975, written by Eva Ibbotson, and stars Humphrey (Hall) a rather pleasant ghost, who lives with his family, the Craggyfords, which consists of such zany characters as a hag for a mother, and an ancient Scottish warrior father (McKidd), a screaming skull for a brother, and a blood-soaked little girl for a sister (Groom). Humphrey finds that his family has been evicted from their home (exorcised by standards of the living) and that the same is happening to other ghosts around England. The mystery is afoot, and the young protagonist must therefore solve it, which he undoubtedly will.
This film is weird. Not in a bad way, but more in a “Tim Burton but marketed to 10 year olds” sense. The characters are kooky (which despite being a deplorable word, suits them perfectly) and the concept of what they are, is handled in much the same way as The Addams Family and Beetlejuice would have done. One departure from that setting is how very British the film is, it could not be more so even if it were wearing a bowler hat and drinking a pint of Guinness before using a red telephone box to call the Queen round for tea. From the actors, to the dialogue, the entire setting is very much merry old England, which is quite entertainingly done, I must say.
The acting is capable and the plot sufficient, however, this is quite definitely not a film for adults by themselves; you would find yourself bored very quickly. But with a couple of children who are uncaring about the fact that they are watching dead people, you will find a film capable of keeping the little tykes very much occupied for an evening, and in fact may leave them with a more memorable experience than a more generic animated feature for instance. In other words, definitely feel free to enjoy this one with the whole family.