When I was young, I was too sure of my pop culture loves to ever find love. Or maybe I was just doing things the right way, because my life turned out great. I claimed I’d never be with someone who listened to modern country or pop punk or who would dare to like a movie as inept as Ghost Dad. I’m happy to report that I’m happily married to someone who checks off all of the above.
Sidney Poitier is an American treasure. This is the film that makes you question that status.
Elliot Hopper (Bill Cosby) is a workaholic widower who cares more about work than his family, forgetting his daughter Diane’s (Kimberly Russell, TV’s Head of the Class) birthday in his dogged pursuit of a promotion and company car. To make it up to her, he gives her his car, leading to him riding in a taxi driven by Curtis Burch, a Satanist who drives the car off a bridge into the water, killing Elliot — yes, this is a comedy — and sending his ghost back to his family.
Luckily, his three children can see him when it’s totally dark. He’s then pulled away to London by Sir Edith (Ian Bannen, who died in a car accident in real life), a paranormal researcher who tells him that the powers that be screwed up and he has until Thursday to save his mortal body. Hijinks ensue, with Elliot doing magic tricks with his son Danny, quitting his job and falling in love with Joan (Denise Nicholas, TV’s In the Heat of the Night).
There’s also the not so comedic moment of Diane slipping on roller skates that little sister Amanda left on the steps and breaking her neck. This being a family comedy, everything works out.
The writers of this film were obsessed with ghosts. Phil Alden Robinson (here under the pseudonym Chris Reese) wrote and directed Field of Dreams the year before, while S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock would go on to direct another movie that my wife loves, Heart and Souls.
It’s kind of hard to watch anything with Bill Cosby in it after the revelations of the last few years. At least this isn’t Leonard Part 6.
Bonus: You can listen to Becca and I discuss this movie on our podcast.