The eighties might have been good to Bill Cosby on television with The Cosby Show but they sure were brutal movie wise. Three years before the infamous Leonard Part 6 (winner of three Golden Raspberry Awards in 1987) the Cos made another gobbler of a movie, Ghost Dad (though to be fair it is a hit with the kids at my buddy’s home). This comedy is not bad because of the cheesy special effects or the story but because as a comedian the Pudding Pop (registered trademark and so on) man believes in trying to out-Shatner William Shatner.
The premise of this movie is one we have seen a few times before in comedies like Topper or Heaven Can Wait: dead guy comes back to life to make things right. In this case widower Elliott Hopper dies, or did he, in the taxi from hell and returns to finish a big business deal that after Thursday will ensure his kids will be financially secure.
There are a few funny moments in Ghost Dad. The whole going through walls and stuff ghost gags are sometimes humorous, as when half of Cosby’s body is popping out of the floor, when he scares a neighborhood rich kids, or when he chases away his daughter’s suitor. Perhaps the best line in the movie is when the daughter is locked in her bedroom and the fatherly ghost says, “Don’t make me walk through that door young lady!”
Unfortunately, the writers could not get away from a couple of bodily function jokes and, for some reason, a sexually-charged neighbor. Add to that the secondary plot of dad trying to finish off the big deal for the company and always having to find an excuse for not being either at work or at home and you have a movie that slowly feels like it is running too long.
The main reason this movie fails is Cosby himself. The tricks of the trade he uses for his stand-up comedy such as exaggerated facial expressions and weird voices do not cross over in the movies.
Ghost Dad is almost decent family fare in a see it once kind of way that kids will enjoy (after all, there is a reason why the three kids in Ghost Dad are less than 6, around 10, and a teenager: this way the audience can relate to them) even if it might actually scare the very young ones more than make them laugh and make teens groan more than burst out in laughter