Movie Review for Over Her Dead Body (2008)

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Review #611 of 365
Movie Review of Over Her Dead Body (2008) [PG-13] 95 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $9.00
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When Seen: 2 February 2008
Time: 3:35 pm
DVD Release Date: 6 May 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Soundtrack: order the CD below

Directed by: Jeff Lowell (debut)
Written by: Jeff Lowell (John Tucker Must Die)

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Eva Longoria Parker (The Heartbreak Kid) • Paul Rudd (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) • Lake Bell ("Surface") • Jason Biggs (Eight Below) • Lindsay Sloane (Nancy Drew) • Stephen Root (Mad Money)

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Jeff Lowell's writing debut was the scathingly smart, dead on indictment of suburban teen, high school clique culture, John Tucker Must Die. In this, Over Her Dead Body, his directing debut, he smacks a foul ball in trying to make a romantic comedy about a persnickety bride-to-be who's accidentally crushed to death on her wedding day by a wingless ice angel who fails to listen to her after-life instructions only to believe it her new ethereal mission to protect her near-husband from having any life after her at all. Running counter to this story is another about a psychic caterer, Ashley (Lake Bell) and her sidekick, something's not right about him, gay best friend, Dan (Jason Biggs) who are trying to make a living despite his utter ineptitude in the kitchen which keeps ruining her psychic sessions. Lo and behold their stories will, of course, intertwine when Chloe (Lindsay Sloane), meddling sister of the woe-begotten near-groom Henry (Paul Rudd) sends him to meet Ashley hoping that contact with his departed Kate (Eva Longoria Parker) will allow him, at last, to move on with his life. A man of science and doctor of veterinarian medicine, Henry is skeptical of Ashley's abilities until she starts getting some things really right—Chloe offering up Kate's diary to help Ashley appear more convincing didn't hurt. And, as contrivance would have it, Henry starts to fall for Ashley over Kate's dead body. Kate then attempts to use all of her ghostly powers to spook Ashley out of the relationship putting her in some awkward and occasionally dangerous situations all with clever vocal tricks as that's the only way she can actually influence the material world and then only because Ashley's true psychic powers allow her to be the only one who can see and hear the overly loquacious Kate.

While the film and story are better and funnier than this may make it sound, it's mostly because no one seems to take themselves all that seriously. They all seem to know they are in the middle of a somewhat derivative if not utterly recycled story that's ending is as predictable as they come. One thing Jeff Lowell does well is write characters that have more depth than sometimes the stories they end up in. At least, that is the case with Henry and Ashley—Kate's a different story.

…a decent though predictable comedy lacking the true spark of real romance…
For some reason, though, he chose to circumvent what was working well, the blossoming love between the sardonic yet witty, forlorn yet charming Henry and Ashley with a side relationship that just muddied things up and made Ashley look a bit cruel and heartless on the inside. The net result is a romantic comedy that's a bit heavier on the comedic side, a bit too predictable, and probably too tongue-in-check to constitute a real 'date' movie for young couples—seemingly the intended audience.

Individually, the performances are well-executed, though some people may feel the word 'executed' to have a double meaning here. Honestly, Paul Rudd was mostly himself, maybe a bit more so than usual. Lake Bell, a recognizable face to those that watched the ill-fated "Surface" on NBC, has a high likeability factor, and the role suited her. Eva Longoria Parker, candidly, is a bit too beautiful for this part. What's a beauty queen doing marrying Henry? They never seem like the soul-mates Kate's diary might have one believe. No, in fact, there would seemingly be nothing about Kate and Henry that would have drawn them together. She's an utter control freak worried about gardenias and ice sculptures, while he likes to quip snide comments about the weight gain of his patients to their owners. Lindsay Sloane looking a lot like a distant cousin of Tori Spelling way over-indulges on her character's meddling persona turning Chloe from doting sister into near-psychopathic, spoiled brat matchmaker. And then there's Jason Biggs taking a turn as the "is he or isn't he" gay best friend at which he's not all that convincing but for good reason it turns out. Through no fault of his own, and his American Pie baggage aside, he just seems too young--Henry and Ashley seem like mid 30-somethings and he seems early 20-something (especially when he's gushing all over her and having her do reality checks).

In the end, credit Jeff Lowell with a mixed outing with his directorial debut. He creates interesting characters, if not in the most interesting of settings this time around, but his plot is a step back lacking the creative vibrancy of his last film. Over Her Dead Body is a decent though predictable comedy lacking the true spark of real romance to be considered a romantic comedy.

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Cast Members
Eva Longoria ParkerPaul RuddLake Bell
Jason BiggsLindsay SloaneStephen Root
Jeff Lowell
Jeff Lowell

Review-lite Over Her Dead Body (2008) [max of 150 words]
John Tucker Must Die writer, Jeff Lowell, takes his turn at writing and directing this romantic comedy without the spark of romance. While his characters and dialogue are up to par, the story gets mired in needless complications and distractions that take the gimmicky plot in the wrong direction a few times too many. The result is a predictable if somewhat derivative comedy that modestly entertains, but never fulfills expectations.

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