Over Her Dead Body
Posted on January 31, 2008 at 5:00 pm
This movie starts out badly, gets much worse, and then after it is just dull for a while, it veers off into a whole new category of awful. Stay away.
The premise is promising. How do we know? Because it has been done with various levels of success before, first and best in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, where just as a widower is celebrating his new marriage, the ghost of his ex-wife appears to stir things up. Everything that one did right, this one did wrong, however. That one had wit and charm and a storyline that was supple and surprising. This one: none of the above.
We begin with the wedding day. Kate (Eva Longoria Parker), the Bridezilla, is ordering everyone around and obsessing over idiotic details. When she is finally silenced by a toppling ice sculpture, it is a relief. Briefly. It seems that even death has not silenced her. Up in heaven, she is so bossy that she gets tossed back to earth as a ghost without the directions that tell her what she is supposed to do.
She decides she has been sent back to disrupt the budding romance of her fiance, a sweet veterinarian (Paul Rudd as Henry) with a daffy psychic-slash-caterer (Lake Bell as Ashley), sparked after the vet’s sister gives the would-be psychic Kate’s diary, so she can pretend she is getting messages from beyond.
Writer-director Jeff Lowell makes one unfortunate miscalculation after another. Are we supposed to be sympathetic about Henry’s mourning for Kate? He seems like an idiot for having been engaged to this selfish and obnoxious control freak in the first place. Are we supposed to be on the side of his relationship with Ashley? She seems insincere and scatter-brained, and Bell seems to be trying to channel Debra Messing from “Will and Grace,” red hair, gay best friend (Jason Biggs) and all. Is she supposed to be a good caterer? It varies with the needs of the plot at any given moment.
Kate’s interference is supposed to be charming and funny but it is weird and gross. Ashley is supposed to be charming and funny, but she is lackluster and irresponsible. Henry is supposed to be charming and funny, but he is, okay he is a little charming and funny but that is because Rudd is so appealing. But when a guy in a movie has two pretty love interests and is most alive on screen when he is talking to his sister (bright spot Lindsay Sloane), the movie is in trouble.
And then it leaps from the frying pan into the fire with some last-minute attempts to keep the plot going. If I did not know better, I would suspect that this release was just a plot by the Writer’s Guild to torture us with terrible scripts until the strike is settled.
Parents should know that this movie is a comic treatment of death and communication with ghosts. It includes some strong language and some sexual humor, including sexual references and a comic (but not explicit) sexual situation. Characters drink alcohol. There is some potty humor.
Families who see this movie should talk about their views of the afterlife and explore some other ideas about what happens after we die.
Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy other movies about the ghosts of exes with the lives of those they left behind from comedies like Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit and Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (remade in the US with Sally Field and James Caan as Kiss Me Goodbye) to films that treat the situation with poignancy and tenderness as in Steven Spielberg’s Always and the magnificent Truly Madly Deeply.