The best thing about the new supernatural rom-com Over Her Dead Body is the title, which allows for plenty of creative interpretation. For example: Under what circumstances should you see this film?
With nothing to do on “Desperate Housewives” thanks to the Writers Guild strike, Eva Longoria (now with extra “Parker”) drifts into movie theaters, headlining a chunk of chick flick piffle that barely rises to the level of WE Channel movie-of-the-week material. If you can’t tell how bad Over Her Dead Body is simply by watching the commercials, you aren’t paying very close attention. Paul Rudd isn’t funny, Jason Biggs is even more annoying than usual, and Longoria Parker wears way too much fake bronzer for a person of Mexican descent. Believe it or not, I actually tried watching this film with one eye closed for a while in the vain hope that it would only be half as bad. Didn’t help.
Longoria Parker plays Kate, an unpleasant, uptight bitch who gets killed by a falling ice sculpture on her wedding day. (If you doubt my unflattering description of the lady, simply note that one of the originally proposed titles for this film was Ghost Bitch.) Whisked off to Heaven, or some white-walled approximation thereof, Kate pisses off some random angel and finds herself back on Earth in ghostly form.
In her absence, Kate’s brokenhearted fiancé Henry (Paul Rudd, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) is dragged to a second-rate psychic named Ashley by his worried sister. She figures getting in touch with Kate will help him get over the loss. (Though why he’d miss such an unpleasant woman isn’t really explained.) Ashley (Lake Bell from “Boston Legal,” doing a not-half-bad impression of a young Cameron Diaz) is unable to contact Kate, but finds herself mildly attracted to the funny, hunky widower.
To move the story along, Henry’s sister steals Kate’s diary and gives it to Ashley so she can “fake” contact Kate by dropping a little personal knowledge. Ashley doesn’t much like the idea, but wants to give Henry some closure and agrees to the charade. This is done solely for the purpose of turning Over Her Dead Body into yet another painfully contrived “big lie” romantic comedy. Henry and Ashley fall in love, he eventually finds his wife’s diary, realizes Ashley’s been lying to him and breaks up with her about 10 minutes before the final credits roll. (No extra points are awarded for guessing how this ends up—although, if you said “last-minute race to the airport to declare his love before she boards a plane,” kudos to you.)
The only twist in the tale (if you can call it that) is that Henry’s ex is drifting around in ghost form. She figures she’s back on Earth to protect Henry from evil new sexual partners and spends her time playing ghostly pranks on Ashley in an attempt to sabotage the burgeoning relationship. This consists mostly of making wacky noises like that guy from the Police Academy movies. (Bet you didn't know ghosts were so adept at making farty sounds.)
You could say Over Her Dead Body is a updated reimagining of Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit. But that’s way too highbrow for this lame sitcom. It’s more like a ripoff of 1987’s Hello Again with Shelley Long. The girls fight. Henry looks confused. Some people kiss at the end. The film’s humor is derived from a string of lowly slapstick sequences that would have made The Three Stooges blush. If the idea of Jason Biggs lighting his arm on fire or Lake Bell spilling mustard on herself (twice!) sends you into fits of laughter, this may be the film for you. For everyone else, this lifeless shell of a movie is dead on arrival.