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Eva Longoria Parker……….Kate
William Morgan Sheppard……….Father Marks
Before looking at what makes Over Her Dead Body a clever and unique romantic comedy, it is important to observe the huge obstacle the filmmakers choose to overcome. The casting of Eva Longoria Parker as said dead body is bold as the actress has yet to play any truly likable characters. In fact, the introduction of her stressed out control-freak, Kate, is so aggravating that even though the audience knows she is going to die, it feels like it has already taken too long by the time she does. It is perplexing to see such unappealing leads cast in the pivotal role of the woman (or man) who is replaced.
What little introduction the viewer is offered of Kate leaves one baffled as to why Henry (Paul Rudd) would even marry her in the first place. If Henry is so perfectly awesome in every way it would make more sense that he would choose someone more fitting to his personality to get hitched with. While it is understandable why writer/director Jeff Lowell would want a clear story arch for his film to take, it seems contrived that Henry has mourned the loss of Kate for as long as he has.
One year after the accident, Henry’s sister, Chloe (Lindsay Sloane), finally lures him out of the house to go visit a psychic reader. Enter the unrealistically incredible Ashley (Lake Bell) who is better at conjuring up old romantic feelings in Henry than spirits from the afterlife. But here is where no amount of self-sabotage (an all too common trait of romantic comedies) could stop the film from picking up steam to indeed become an outright funny and enjoyable date movie.
Paul Rudd has never failed to inspire laughs in any role he has taken, and it is rewarding as a long-time fan of his to see him get to carry a movie for once. Lake Bell is equally charming and has a somewhat distinctive look that separates her from usual female leads. When the two are together, their chemistry is so infectious that one forgets that the point of the film is for Parker to act all bitchy and pretend that she has learned some great life lesson at the end. True, as the closing credits roll the audience does not hate her as much as it did at the onset, but the fact remains that the film spends far too much time building on the more distasteful parts of Longoria’s character.
That is to say nothing of the many other twists and turns that stand between Henry and Ashley ending up together. The involvement of Ashley’s gay friend, Dan (Jason Biggs), is a nice touch until the obvious happens: a kiss that even the blind woman in the back row saw coming. Chloe is equally meddling when she offers Kate’s diary to Ashley as a way for Ashley to pretend that she can actually contact Kate. Needless to say, the diary is useless, but it does serve its function as (shocker!) the catalyst for Henry to break up with Ashley. With so much going on there is hardly room for the involvement of a ghost who will ultimately be unable to lay claim to her man.
With all these nitpicky complaints, it might sound like it would be best to avoid Over Her Dead Body, but you would be missing out. As stated previously, the movie is laugh-out-loud funny. Rudd and Bell make a fantastic couple; it was hard for me to decide which one I was more in love with. The supporting cast, while tedious at times, is effective. Finally, the premise is fresh and entertaining. As with all romantic comedies, it is as predictable as a sunrise, but then again the surprise lies in how the day unfolds.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):