Over Her Dead Body
PG-13
Entertainment: +1
Acceptability: +1

Eva Longoria Parker, Paul Rudd, Lake Bell, Jason Biggs. Comedy. Written & directed by Jeff Lowell.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Devastated when his fiance, Kate (Eva Longoria Parker), is killed on their wedding day (crushed by a falling ice sculpture), Henry (Paul Rudd) reluctantly agrees to consult a psychic named Ashley (Lake Bell) at the urging of his sister Chloe (Lindsay Sloane). Despite his skepticism over her psychic abilities, Henry finds himself falling hard for Ashley, and vice versa. But there is a big snag. Ashley is being haunted by Kates ghost, who considers it her heavenly duty to break up Henry and Ashleys fledging romance, if it is the last thing she does on this earthly plane...

PREVIEW REVIEW: I am grateful when a studio delivers a film during the first two months of the year that catches the imagination and tickles the funny bone. Ive come not to expect it. Alas, Over Her Dead Body is not one of those welcome surprises. Despite the promise of the title, this is one of those films studios stuff into movie theaters in January and February while talented movie makers and real movie stars complete summer blockbusters and year-end award contenders.

The concept of ghosts haunting numbskulls has been around since Topper. Here, that concept and the story structure suffer from what I call TV-itis. TV-itis is an ailment which numbs the part of the brain that distinguishes between wit and sit-com klutziness. The writing may be okay for home entertainment, where phone disruptions and childrens needs dont necessarily cause viewers to lose sight of the storyline. Once these projects are given the big screen treatment, however, audiences can clearly see through the plot holes and the absurdity thats meant to pass as comic calamity.

Heres a symptom of TV-itis found in Over Her Dead Body. The comic sidekick is thought to be gay. But maybe hes not. Maybe he just pretends to be for five years so he can be the best friend of the woman he secretly loves. Oh, I know that doesnt make since. Thats TV-itis at its most insidious.

Heres another example of how TV-itis has stricken writer/director Jeff Lowell. When the sidekicks arm catches on fire during a cooking mishap, he plunges it into a huge pot of boiling water, then rants around the room like Ralph Kramden. Thats what I said, his arm catches on fire. Seeing a human being on fire thats always classic.

Much of the films humor runs in that vein. The ghost causes one embarrassing situation after another, making everyone in the story think the other female lead is nuts. And how does the victim of this supernatural harassment handle these embarrassing moments? Well, think back to each episode of I Love Lucy. Trouble is, Ms. Lake is no Lucy. And I suspect the crudeness of the situations here would have been discarded by Lucys writing staff.

As this review is already more time consuming than the film deserves, suffice it to say, my theory that no one sets out to make a bad movie has once again been tested.

DVD Alternative: Topper with Cary Grant, Constance Bennett and Roland Young, and directed with style and class by Norman McLeod. Unsettled ghosts return to earth to dominate then befriend a meak businessman. I realize its really old (made in 1937), and in black and white to boot. I mention it because a few weeks ago a young publicist told me she loved it. So, maybe there are those who will watch a clever and funny film despite its age.

Want a stupid one, but funny due to its star? Try The Ghost and Mr. Chicken with Don Knotts. Remember, I told you its stupid. Or Ghostbusters. The first one has some objectionable material, but there are also a few positives theres a reverential discussion about Jesus and the movie is funny.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: New Line Cinema

Summary
Crude Language: A couple of lewd comments and several gay jokes.
Obscene Language: Several minor expletives (damns, hells, craps)and one or two obscenities the s-word.
Profanity: I may have heard one GD and there are several uses of the expression oh my God.
Violence: Some visual slapstick, including seeing what appears to be a woman falling off a building its the ghost, unharmed; we see a mans arm catch fire during a cooking mishap; to put it out, he pushes his arm down a huge pot the water boiling this is played as a visual joke
Sexual Intercourse: The couple go off on a weekend; sexual discussions and it is implied they sleep together.
Nudity: None. The lady is seen undressing, down to her underwear.
Homosexual Conduct: One character is supposed to be gag several jokes about being homosexual
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: several sexual discussions.
Drug Abuse: Some social drinking.
Other: One of the female leads is a psychic and the ghost makes fun of religion calling it hocus pocus. An exorcism is played for laughs, but the mocking attitude comes across as offensive.
Running Time: 90 minutes
Intended Audience: Those who love Eva Longoria Parker

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