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Over Her Dead Body (2008)

New Line Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 5/6/2008

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Audio: 1/2
Extras: No Extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/11/2008

In years past, film and television were two very distinct and separate mediums for actors, and very few passed from one to the other with any success. However, we've recently seen a shift in this kind of thinking and actors who were predominantly known for film work, such as Glenn Close, James Woods, and Alec Baldwin, have made a successful transition to TV. Still, it remains to be difficult for some actors to make the leap from the small screen to the big one. One of the latest actors to attempt this is Eva Longoria Parker, star of the hit series Desperate Housewives. Will Over Her Dead Body be the vehicle to launch her movie career?

As Over Her Dead Body opens, we meet Kate (Eva Longoria Parker), who is busily planning her wedding day with her fiancee, Henry (Paul Rudd). Kate is a demanding woman who bosses everyone around, until she is crushed by an ice sculpture. Kate then finds herself with an Angel (Kali Rocha), who attempts to explain the afterlife to Kate. But, as Kate is headstrong, she won't let the angel speak, and thus doesn't know what she's supposed to be doing.

The story then leaps ahead one year. Due to Kate's death, Henry has become a recluse. His sister, Chloe (Lindsay Sloane), decides that she must help Henry. She takes him to meet a psychic named Ashley (Lake Bell) (who is also a caterer). Chloe feels that if Kate tells Henry to move on, then he can't finally begin to live again. Ashley doesn't contact Kate (or so she thinks), but there are sparks between Henry and herself. Ashley decides that she will assist Chloe in helping Henry, but she really just wants to get to know him better. She's quite surprised when Kate appears and forbids Ashley from seeing Henry. Kate feels that her mission in the afterlife is to protect Henry from this woman. However, Ashley is strong-willed as well, and she's not going to let something like a ghost get in her way.

I really hate to sound like the late Gene Siskel, but I've got to talk about what Over Her Dead Body could have been. There's no other way to put this, Kate is a bitch, and when she suddenly dies, the audience is left with mixed emotions. The idea that she continues to be a bitch in purgatory is certainly an interesting one. The film introduces the idea of a ghost who is such as busy-body that she fails to get her instructions and thus has no idea what she is doing. This has the potential to be a very funny movie, as we watch Kate attempting many different things to attempt to fulfill her purpose in the after-life.

However, this is not the movie that we get with Over Her Dead Body. Instead, we get a very limp romantic-comedy which just happens to have some supernatural overtones. Essentially, this is a very stereotypical film which barely rises above LifeTime Network quality. We get a very simple "girl meets boy, girl is attracted to boy, girl pursues boy under false pretenses, they fall in love, complications ensue" story. Ashley pretends to communicate with Kate in order to be with Henry and attempts to hold their relationship together. These sections of the film play just like many other movies which we've seen.

The scenes with Kate as a ghost are few and far between. She only harasses Kate in a few scenes and the whole "ghost" thing almost become a subplot when the marketing of the film leads us to believe that it's the whole focus of the movie. Eva Longoria Parker may get top billing here (?!), but she's not in the film that much. (I can't help but wonder if this had anything to do with her Desperate Housewives schedule.)

Which leads us to the main problem with Over Her Dead Body -- this is a very disjointed movie which feels like several films at once. Again, the skeleton of the film is a very standard romantic-comedy. Then, we get a ghost angle which is barely utilized. (In this there is an exorcism scene which feels totally out of place.) Kate dies five minutes into the movie and in that five minutes, she's very unlikable. I wasn't sure how we were supposed to feel about her for the remainder of the movie. Was she the villain? The episodic script is further hampered by the fact that every actor is doing something different. Rudd is playing the sort of apathetic smartass on which he's built a career, and he has some funny lines here (which feel ad-libbed). The movie definitely suffers when he's not on screen. Bell is likable in her role, but she's not funny. Jason Biggs appears as Bell's catering assistant, and while his slapstick is funny, it feels as if it belongs in a different movie. Eva Longoria Parker is playing the same character which she plays on Desperate Housewives and she shows no acting range.

I'm typically patient with romantic-comedies, but Over Her Dead Body is a disaster and it's painful to watch. The movie is a series of unfunny scenes which build up to nothing. The script wastes the potential of the ghost plot, and the actors don't gel. Eva Longoria Parker fans (if they exist) will be disappointed by this and I can only recommend it to Paul Rudd completists. Let me put it this way: When a bird steals the show, something is definitely wrong.

Over Her Dead Body haunts DVD courtesy of New Line Home Entertainment. The DVD contains both the widescreen and full-frame versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and somewhat clear, and it shows no defects from the source material. However, there is some notable grain in some shots, especially the all-white shots which show the "afterlife". The transition to these all-white shots resembles a blizzard. There's a shot just before the end credits where an elaborate tile walkway creates a great deal of video noise. On the plus side, the colors look good and natural and the image is never overly dark or bright. The DVD contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The in-film music sounds good, and there are some moments where the stereo effects are impressive. However, we get very little in the way of surround sound or subwoofer effects. There's a bassy "thud" when Kate is killed and the resulting "astral" sounds come from the rear speakers, but otherwise, most of the audio comes from the center and front channels.

There are no extras whatsoever on this DVD, save for bonus trailers.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long