|Directed by||Sidney Poitier|
|Produced by||Terrence Nelson|
|Written by||Brent Maddock
|Music by||Henry Mancini|
|Editing by||Pembroke J. Herring|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Release dates||June 29, 1990|
|Running time||83 minutes|
Ghost Dad is a 1990 American comedy film directed by Sidney Poitier and starring Bill Cosby, in which a widower's spirit is able to communicate with his children after his death. It was critically panned, and wound up on many critics' "worst of 1990" and "worst of all time" lists.
Elliot Hopper (Bill Cosby) is a workaholic widower who is about to land the deal of a lifetime at work, which he hopes will win him a promotion and a company car. After he forgets his daughter Diane's birthday, Elliot attempts to make it up to her by promising her she can have his car when he secures the deal at work on the coming Thursday. After being persuaded to give the car to his daughter early, Elliot then ends up hailing a taxi from work, which is driven by a Satanist named Curtis Burch (Raynor Scheine), who drives very erratically and speeds out of control. In an attempt to get the man to stop the taxi, Elliot convinces Curtis that he (Elliot) is Satan and commands him to stop the taxi. Shocked to see his "Evil Master," Burch has an accident and drives off a bridge, causing him and Elliot to fall to their deaths below.
Elliot emerges from the accident scene and approaches a police officer on the scene, but he quickly learns that he is, in fact, a ghost when the police officer begins urinating on his shoes and furthermore when walking out into the road a speeding coach with passengers aboard drives over the bridge and goes straight through him causing Elliot to witness and endure an ugly looking old lady sitting on the very far back seat biting away on a sandwich with her legs far apart coming closer towards him, making him feel and look rather squeamish. Elliot returns home and is shocked to find his three children are capable of seeing him, but only when he is in a dark room with no light. Although they are unable to hear him, they soon learn that he is a ghost. Struggling to tell his family what has happened, he is suddenly whisked away to London by a paranormal researcher named Sir Edith (Ian Bannen), who tells him he is a ghost who is yet to enter the "After Life" and that he has until Thursday before his soul crosses over.
The pressure of work and helping his children with their various problems lead to a comedic series of events in which he struggles to keep his job until Thursday to ensure his family's survival without him. One day, he is faced with choosing between staying in an important work meeting and helping his son complete a magic trick at school. He eventually decides that his family's happiness is more important and walks out on his furious boss, Mr. Collins (Barry Corbin), who later fires him.
Dejected, Elliot reveals himself as a ghost to his love interest, Joan (Denise Nicholas) who is initially shocked, but later sympathetic. Edith arrives from London, extremely famished, but with the exciting news for Elliot that he is not dead; he is simply a spirit that jumped out of his body in fright. In the excitement to find Elliot's body and reunite his spirit with it, Diane trips on a pair of skates that Elliot's youngest daughter Amanda left on the staircase, causing her to fall down the staircase and get seriously injured. They rush her to the hospital and Elliot is confronted by Diane's spirit, for she had also jumped out of her body; she takes it all very humorously, flying excitedly around the hospital ward. Elliot begs her to get back into her body, imploring her not to waste her life as his body starts to "flicker". Diane becomes concerned as Elliot collapses on the floor, and races into the intensive care unit, where she discovers her father's body. She then helps him into the room, where he learns his body had no identification on it, as the taxi driver had taken his wallet before the accident. Elliot returns to his body and wakes up, along with Diane, who jumps off the operating table excitedly and tells the rest of family what has happened.
Reunited, the family are just leaving the hospital to return home when Elliot spots a yellow taxi parked outside. He discovers Burch behind the wheel, delighted to see his "Evil Master" and gives Elliot his imitation Gucci wallet back. Elliot then tells Burch to go to hell and sit on red hot coals and wait for him "until it snows," to which Curtis agrees enthusiastically and drives off while Elliot, Joan, Edith, and the family leave the hospital.
- Bill Cosby - Elliot Hopper
- Kimberly Russell - Diane Hopper
- Denise Nicholas - Joan
- Salim Grant - Danny Harper
- Brooke Fontaine - Amanda Hopper
- Ian Bannen - Sir Edith
- Barry Corbin - Mr. Emery Collins
- Dana Ashbrook - Tony Ricker
- Omar Gooding - Stuart
- Arnold Stang - Mr. Cohen
- Dakin Matthews - Mr. Seymour
- Raynor Scheine - Curtis Burch
Additional Voices by LaGloria Scott, Kerry Gutierrezm, Kaleena Kiff, Rocky Krakoff, Jonathan Brandis, Ryan McWhorter, Suzanne Stone, Barbara Harris, Carol King, Doris Hess, Cathy Cavadini, David McCharen, David Randolph, Greg Finley, Bryan Scott, J.D. Hall, and Joseph Chapman
1990 book cover
|Publisher||Berkley; Mv Tie in edition|
|Publication date||July 1, 1990|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
As part of the publicity for the movie, a Ghost Dad novelization written by Mel Cebulash was released the year of the film's debut.
Since its release, the film has been universally ravaged by critics and has a 7% rating on film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 28 reviews; the consensus states: "A startlingly misconceived effort from director Sidney Poitier and star Bill Cosby, Ghost Dad is a listless, glacially-paced comedy that's alternately schmaltzy and incomprehensible."
Ghost Dad is a desperately unfunny film - a strained, contrived construction that left me shaking my head in amazement… How could Sidney Poitier, a skilled filmmaker with an actor's sense of timing, have been the director of this mess? How did a production executive go for it? Who ever thought this was a good idea?
VHS and DVD release
Ghost Dad was released on VHS by Universal Studios on December 6, 1990. The film was released on DVD by Good Times Video on May 1, 2001, and as a "Studio Selections" DVD by Universal Studios on March 1, 2005.