The afterlife is often described as a hazy realm of placid, soft-lit infinity; so we all should be well prepared after sitting through the mostly lifeless comedy Over Her Dead Body.
It's bad when your movie has a clunky supernatural premise hokey enough for Lifetime, but you aren't helping matters by piling up pratfalls and plotlines like cars on an icy freeway. That's just what writer-turned-first-time-director Jeff Lowell does, slapping together scenes with a soulless clattering efficiency he honed on mediocre scripts like John Tucker Must Die. The stale romantic comedy bits are here: the cute-meet, the ditzy-cute heroine and dishwater hero, the zany sidekicks, the endless misunderstandings — all under an umbrella of ghostly high jinks.
Eva Longoria Parker plays Kate, the title corpse, a rampaging bridezilla who dies on her big day, only to hang around and haunt hapless groom Henry (Paul Rudd), preventing him from moving on and finding bliss. That bliss comes in comely Ashley (Lake Bell), a caterer-psychic who's supposed to be helping Henry contact his lost fiancee. But she begins having visions of walking down the aisle. This doesn't sit well with cranky Kate, of course, who, in the meantime, has been evicted from Heaven's waiting room until she loses her 'tude, which she does by marching down to earth and getting right in with everybody's business. This ought to be ample material to kill 90 minutes, right? Hardly. And let's not forget the truly horrifying sight of Jason Biggs flopping around as Ashley's unconvincingly gay best pal Dan.
There's a reason we can't believe (beyond his middling acting) that Biggs is gay, because, well, he isn't; he's a play queen attempting to cozy up to Ash, his secret love interest. Bah.
Lowell clumsily shoehorns this subplot into an already meandering middle third, which also features Kate's post-life clash with the recently deceased alcoholic ice sculptor (Stephen Root), the one who accidentally ran her over in real life. Such clutter serves zippo; it merely sucks screen time from Bell, the movie's one asset. She's at once striking, lovely and gawky, with a likable comedic presence that'll grow once she shakes off her TV-friendly mannerisms. Mrs. Parker, meanwhile, is barely big enough for the boob tube. Neither lady gets much electricity from their leading man — the usually dependable Paul Rudd can barely suppress his boredom long enough to lift his expression to a smirk. Hopefully Rudd'll shake it off, and so will we, though the specter of bad movies lingers.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].