Don’t Even Bother with Over Her Dead Body
- Friday, February 01, 2008
DVD Release Date: May 6, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: February 1, 2008
Rating: PG-13 (for sexual content and language)
Genre: Comedy, fantasy, romance
Run Time: 110 minutes
Director: Jeff Lowell
Actors: Eva Longoria Parker, Paul Rudd, Lake Bell, Jason Biggs, Lindsay Sloane, Stephen Root, William Morgan Sheppard, Wendi McLendon Covey, Ali Hillis
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, women everywhere will be searching for chick-flicks on the marquis … especially romantic comedies about weddings gone awry, love triangles, crazy blind dates and the like.
But before you pay ten bucks for Over Her Dead Body, keep in mind that this one is “all Hollywood” in its worldview, with an implausible premise and a boatload of questionable issues.
The movie begins with bride-to-be Kate (Eva Longoria Parker) pushing around all the caterers and making controlling demands on those she’s hired for her beautiful outdoor wedding. When she sees that the ice sculpture she ordered is actually a wingless angel, she throws a fit and the heavy statue falls right on her, killing her instantly.
She ends up in a sort-of holding area for heaven, where a woman tells her that she’s not quite ready for eternity and must go back to earth for a while. Kate pitches another grouchy fit, and the lady disappears before she can finish her instructions. Soon Kate finds herself back on earth as a quasi-ghost who can walk through people and buildings.
Meanwhile, her veterinarian fiancée, Henry (Paul Rudd) has been cajoled by his sister, Chloe (Lindsay Sloane), into seeing a psychic. Chloe hopes that Ashley (Lake Bell) can bring Henry some word from heaven, or some message from Kate that will comfort his grieving heart. She gives Kate’s diary to Ashley and encourages the psychic to lie about things she’s “getting” from beyond. At first Ashley says no, but eventually she agrees.
It just so happens that Ashley is also a part-time caterer, spending most of her time with her gay best friend, Dan (Jason Biggs). She begins the psychic sessions with Henry in her living room (while Dan is burning things in the kitchen), and she increasingly notices how fun and handsome her new client is. But just as she sets her sights on him, Ashley is shocked beyond belief to get a visit from Kate, who believes she has found her mission: to protect Henry at all costs.
In very comical ways, Kate threatens Ashley and demands that she never see Henry again. At first Ashley is intimidated, but then she decides to fully engage in the mortal-vs.-immortal contest for Henry’s affections. The results are often hilarious.
Over Her Dead Body provides a lot of laughs, and the two lead actors are adorable. What’s problematic is that it’s unclear who the protagonist is. Kate or Ashley? It seems it should be Kate because she’s the one who needs the bigger transformation, but at-least-equal screen time is given to Ashley. That's a no-no in "Screenwriting 101," where we learn that there should be one clear protagonist, or else audiences are torn between the two and not sure with which character to identify.
The other, more important issue at hand is the worldview. The Bible condemns both fortune-telling and contacting the dead. Also, Ashley is Catholic, but her priest is a totally ineffectual joke (at one point he reads an exorcism script to get rid of Kate). He also shames Ashley because of her lack of church involvement. In addition, fun is poked at Republicans, conversations about oral sex are portrayed and there are some marked scatological humor elements.
Beyond that, Over Her Dead Body is a bit creepy. Who would want to be kissing a guy and looking up to see his angry, dead fiancée glaring at you? And to what real end? How sad if Kate’s job really was to schlep around the dimension of the living in her wedding dress, spying on their lives!
Finally, (WARNING: Plot Spoiler!), there is a character who really loves Ashley and has proven his loyalty for years. But he doesn’t get to win her hand in the end, and that’s kind of depressing.
Overall, underneath the silly premise and laughs—and despite the notable acting—there's an empty feeling that could go with audiences as they leave, most likely due to the underlying messages and flawed Hollywood worldview. Perhaps Valentine's Day might best be celebrated(and go easier on your wallet!) with the rental of a classic, feel-good love story like An Affair to Remember or Sleepless in Seattle.
- Drugs/Alcohol: Beer drinking portrayed, not to excess.
- Language: A few mild obscenities; some scatological humor.
- Sex & Nudity: Unmarried couple goes away for a weekend of basically sex (nothing overt shown), and a man “talks dirty” to a woman to drown out a ghost’s comments. There is also talk of oral sex.
- Violence: None, beyond comedic.
- Worldview: Psychics are gorgeous and fun and sometimes helpful. The Church and its leaders are shaming and ineffectual. It’s good to have a gay best friend as a shoulder to cry on. It’s not just going to heaven or hell when you die, but you might have to roam around between dimensions with various assignments. There’s nothing worse than a Republican. The end justifies the means.
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