- Rated PG-13
- Buy the DVD
All photos © New Line Cinema
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
t’s been a strange month at the movies. During a time when every new release is typically guaranteed to suck, this January has proved otherwise. With memorable surprises from the innovative “Cloverfield” to the crowd-pleasing “Rambo,” things were looking up for moviegoers everywhere – that is, until “Over Her Dead Body” quickly reminded us that it’s still winter, and that bad movies go hand-in-hand with the chilling cold. Strangely reminiscent of the 1945 film “Blithe Spirit” (albeit with a slight twist), “Over Her Dead Body” doesn’t have a single original idea throughout its mercifully short 93-minute runtime. Worse yet, the movie’s funniest bit involves a talking parrot.
Not one to be upstaged by a smart-mouthed bird, Paul Rudd stars as Henry Mills, a veterinarian who loses his wife-to-be, Kate (Eva Longoria Parker), in a freak accident on their wedding day. One year later, Henry is still mourning her loss, and in order to help him move on, his sister Chloe (Lindsay Sloane) takes him to a psychic with the hope that he can reconnect with Kate one last time. Skeptical of the idea, Henry’s session with Ashley (Lake Bell) doesn’t go as planned, and in order to convince him otherwise, Chloe suggests that Ashley use Kate’s diary to uncover the intimate details only they would know about. The plan works – almost too well – and the more time Henry and Ashley spend together, the more they begin to fall in love. When their relationship becomes official, however, Kate returns from purgatory to haunt the girl who’s stolen her man.
While the rom-com genre hasn’t felt fresh in over a decade, recent films like “27 Dresses” have at least done a decent job of employing actors who can make a paint-by-numbers story work. Heck, even writer-director Jeff Lowell’s “John Tucker Must Die” was one of the more original romantic comedies of the past few years, so it’s a bit disappointing to see that his latest script fails in delivering that same comedic bite. Of course, the script is the least of your worries when you can’t even correctly cast your own movie. With the exception of Paul Rudd (who sticks out like a sore thumb thanks to his ability to improvise better dialogue), the casting for the film is absolutely horrendous. Forget the fact that Eva Longoria Parker has received top billing for what’s essentially the third lead – she’s one of the worst actresses around. Apparently, the publicity she gets on her day job (which consists of posing in lingerie and acting bitchy) has convinced studio heads that she’s the most bankable star of the group. That may be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that her participation is a major reason why the movie doesn't get a single laugh.
The disaster doesn’t stop there, either. Lake Bell isn’t any better than her beautiful co-star, and though she sprinkles a little charisma on an otherwise dull movie, she can’t seem to decide whether she wants to play her character straight or as a complete goofball. Jason Biggs, on the other hand, makes a fool out of himself throughout the entire film. As Ashley’s gay business partner, Biggs (who hasn’t earned an honest paycheck in over two years) continues to cash in on the success of the “American Pie” films. In fact, he never had any real talent to begin with, and the possibility that he’ll make a “special guest appearance” in the next direct-to-DVD “American Pie” adventure increases with every bad movie he makes.
Nevertheless, it’s hard to completely debase a film that stars Paul Rudd. The guy still hasn’t caught a break as a leading man, and though he’ll always find work alongside the likes of Will Ferrell and Judd Apatow, it’s a major disservice to one of the more overlooked comic actors of his generation. That isn’t an official endorsement for “Over Her Dead Body,” though. The movie is all sorts of January bad, and though some women will undoubtedly want to drag their partners to the theater opening weekend, you’d be better off either waiting for the Valentine’s Day rush of cheesy rom-coms, or going to see “27 Dresses” a second time instead.