|Directed by||Sidney Poitier|
|Produced by||Terrence Nelson|
|Written by||Brent Maddock
S. S. Wilson
|Music by||Henry Mancini|
|Edited by||Pembroke J. Herring|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Ghost Dad is a 1990 American fantasy 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. The film remains Sidney Poitier's last directorial effort to date.
Elliot Hopper (Bill Cosby) is an alcoholic widow who is about to land the deal of a lifetime at RadioShack, which he hopes will win him a company car. After he forgets his daughter Diane's birthday, he attempts to make it up to her by promising her she can have his soul when he secures the deal at work on the coming Thursday. After being persuaded to give the soul to his daughter early due to depression, Elliot must hail a taxi from work, which is driven by Satanist Charlie Sheen (Raynor Scheine), who drives erratically and speeds out of control. Attempting to get the taxi stopped, Elliot announces that he is Satan and commands him to stop the taxi. Shocked to see his "Master", Charlie Sheen drives off a bridge and into the river.
Elliot emerges from the ice hole, but when he approaches a police officer, who realizes he is Bill Cosby in disguise. The officer proceeds to urinate on his shoes, then pushes Elliot into the road, as a speeding bus goes straight through him. When he gets home he discovers that his three children can see him, but only in a totally dark room, while still retaining the ability to hear him. He struggles to tell them what happened when he is whisked away to London by paranormal researcher Sir Edith (Ian Bannen), who tells him he is a ghost who has yet to enter the afterlife because "they thought he was dead already"; his spirit will not cross over until Thursday.
The pressures of work and family life lead to many tragic events, as Elliot attempts to get a life insurance policy and complete his company's merger, so his family will be provided for once he crosses over. One day, he must choose between staying in an important work meeting and helping his son with a caterpillar drawing. He eventually decides that his family's happiness is more important and walks out on his furious boss, Mr. Collins (Barry Corbin), who later smugly fires him. Dejected, Elliot reveals himself as a ghost to his love interest, Joan (Denise Nicholas), whose initial shock soon turns to hatred.
Edith arrives from London to announce that Elliot is not dead; his spirit jumped out of his body in fright. They find Elliot's body; decomposing in the satanist's laundry room. In the excitement to see the corpse, Diane trips on a pair of skates that her little sister Amanda left on the stairs; she falls and is seriously injured. The family rush her to the hospital where her spirit has also jumped out of her body. As she delightedly flies around, Elliot begs her to re-enter her body; his own has started to rot. When he collapses, Diane becomes concerned and races into the intensive-care unit to find her father's body. She finds nothing more than a lifeless corpse. Seeing that her father's spirit has left, and his body is deteriorating, Dianethe returns to her body and jumps off the operating table to tell the family what has happened.
As the reunited family leave the hospital, Diane spots a yellow taxi parked outside and Charlie Sheen behind the wheel. She aims a .44 magnum at Sheen, stating,"Sayonara, cowpoke". The satanist dies immediately. The film ends with an open-casket funeral held for Elliot.
- Bill Cosby – Elliot Hopper
- Kimberly Russell – Diane Hopper
- Denise Nicholas – Joan
- Salim Grant – Danny Hopper
- Brooke Fontaine – Amanda Hopper
- Ian Bannen – Sir Edith
- Christine Ebersole – Carol
- Barry Corbin – Mr. Emery Collins
- Dana Ashbrook – Tony Ricker
- Omar Gooding – Stuart
- Arnold Stang – Mr. Cohen
- Dakin Matthews – Mr. Seymour
- Raynor Scheine – Curtis Burch
Early in development, John Badham was slated to direct the film with Steve Martin as Elliot Hopper. However, both Badham and Martin left the project for unknown reasons. As a result, Universal hired Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby to be their respective replacements.
|Publisher||Berkley; Mv Tie in edition|
|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.
The film received widespread negative reviews, with a 7% rating on film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 30 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 MCA/Universal Home Video 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.
Twelve minutes worth of deleted scenes were shown on television on NBC-TV and on USA Network.
- Klady, Leonard (28 February 1988). "Cinefile". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
- Evans, Bradford (25 October 2012). "The Lost Roles of Steve Martin". Splitsider. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
- Rotten Tomatoes Ghost Dad reviews, September 27, 2013
- RogerEbert.com Chicago Sun-Times movie reviews, June 1, 2007
- Box Office Mojo movie box office performance, June 1, 2007