Over Her Dead Body (2008)

Rating:

USA. 2008.

Crew

Director/Screenplay – Jeff Lowell, Producers – Paul Brooks & Peter Safran, Photography – John Bailey, Music – David Kitay, Music Supervisor – Sarah Webster, Visual Effects – Amalgamated Pixels, Inc. (Supervisor – Michael J. Morreale), Special Effects Supervisor – Jeremy D. Hays, Production Design – Cory Lorenzen. Production Company – Gold Circle Films/New Line Cinema/Safran Company

Cast

Eva Longoria Parker (Kate Spencer), Lake Bell (Ashley Clark), Paul Rudd (Henry Wills), Jason Biggs (Dan), Lindsay Sloane (Chloe Wills), Stephen Root (Sculptor), Kali Rocha (Angel)


Plot

Kate Spencer is about to be married to veterinarian Henry Wills and is determined that everything will be perfect for the event. In the midst of Kate’s organisational frenzy, she fails to notice as a truck nearly backs into her whereupon the ice sculpture of an angel it is delivering falls on top of her and she is killed. Arriving in the afterlife, Kate has no time to listen to the angel’s instructions and storms off. One year later, Henry’s sister Chloe tries to persuade him to start dating again. Chloe goes to Ashley Clark, a not very successful psychic who also sidelines as a caterer, and persuades her to fake a message from Kate to tell Henry to move on. To help, Chloe lends Kate’s diary to Ashley. Ashley and Henry go out on a date with Ashley using information from the diary to relay ‘messages’ from Kate. However, the ghostly Kate then turns up, only able to be seen by Ashley and incensed at Ashley’s pretending to speak on her behalf. When Ashley and Henry start to become attracted to one another, Kate decides that she must intervene to break the two of them apart.


Over Her Dead Body is a variant on the light fantasy film. These sorts of films used to put out by the barrelful in the 1940s and still sporadically are today – although, as the filmmakers found here, not many of these are successful as cinematic releases. (One suspects Over Her Dead Body might have been more successful if the film had gone out under its production title of Ghost Bitch). Over Her Dead Body appears to have been put together as a vehicle for Eva Longoria Parker who came to fame as the tempestuous Latino sexpot on tv’s Desperate Housewives (2004-12). The basic premise is copied from the classic A Guy Named Joe (1943), which was remade by Steven Spielberg as Always (1989), about a pilot who dies and comes back as a guardian angel only to discover that the person he is to guide is now romancing his former girl. Over Her Dead Body changes the sex of the principal characters and offers a romantic comedy spin but otherwise plays out the essentials of A Guy Named Joe.

Over Her Dead Body was the directorial debut of Jeff Lowell, who had previously worked as a writer and sometimes producer on numerous sitcoms including Cybill (1995-8), The Drew Carey Show (1995-2001), Spin City (1996-2002) and Just Shoot Me (1997-2003). The resulting vehicle proved to be a disaster that bombed miserably on opening. Despite a background on a number of acclaimed sitcoms, Jeff Lowell seems like an amateur, constantly serving up a barrage of gags and glib one-liners that he clearly thinks are much funnier than anybody in the audience does. There are extremely lame slapstick sequences with two idiots trying to lift a large dog onto an operating tables or with the brother setting the oven on fire and so on. There are times that these sequences become embarrassingly unfunny – like scenes with Lake Bell running out of a shower in a gym covered in shampoo, squirting mustard all over herself at a hotdog stand, involving an excessively long phantom fart or with Eva Longoria Parker doing everything in her incorporeal arsenal to disrupt Paul Rudd and Lake Bell as they make out.

One of the major problems with the film is that the two romantic leads – Lake Bell and Paul Rudd – do not click together in any way. Lake Bell is an actress who has been bubbling under the last few years and seems on the verge of gaining a name but has still to find the right vehicle to carry her there. Bell has classic looks and great bones but what is more than apparent here is that this type of light comedy is just not her forte. She tries to do a vague ditzy flustered thing and comes across like a more airheaded version of Sandra Bullock. Paul Rudd is such a gormless non-presence that one wonders what anyone would see in him, let alone worth two women fighting over. None of it works. Although even more embarrassingly miscast than either of them is Jason Biggs of American Pie fame as a gay man who, in one of the film’s most preposterous pieces of plotting, we find has only been pretending to be gay in order to get closer to Lake Bell.



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