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Over Her Dead Body DVD Review

Over Her Dead Body movie poster Over Her Dead Body

Theatrical Release: February 1, 2008 / Running Time: 95 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Jeff Lowell

Cast: Eva Longoria Parker (Kate Spencer), Paul Rudd (Henry Mills), Lake Bell (Ashley), Jason Biggs (Dan), Lindsay Sloane (Chloe), Stephen Root (Sculptor), Kali Rocha (Angel), W. Morgan Sheppard (Father Marks), Sam Pancake (Bill), Wendi McLendon-Covey (Lona)

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Paul Rudd is everywhere these days. Over the past year, he's made six visits to theaters. Most have been the result of him being part of the Judd Apatow troupe. The honor has granted Rudd sizable supporting roles in such hits as Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and the now-playing Forgetting Sarah Marshall. As entertaining as his turns in those high-profile comedies have been,
I've recently found and been even more impressed by his work in the light but endearing romantic comedies Overnight Delivery and I Could Never Be Your Woman across from Reese Witherspoon and Michelle Pfeiffer, respectively. Separated by ten years, the two films not only have direct-to-video fates in common (a potentially significant theatrical draw, Woman was unfortunately another casualty of inept Weinstein Company distribution). They also share the fact that they let Rudd loose as leading man.

I hoped to find similar joys in Over Her Dead Body, a recent theatrically-released romantic comedy from New Line which dealt Rudd another rare starring role. From the marketing campaign, I entered the film expecting the actor to play second fiddle to "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria Parker in one of her first major cinematic ventures. In fact, the movie gives Rudd as much attention as Parker and third lead, the younger and lesser-known Lake Bell.

Veterinarian Henry Mills (Rudd) is about to marry Kate Spencer (Parker). In the bride's excited attempts to ensure everything about the fancy outdoor wedding is just right, she ends up getting crushed by a rejected ice sculpture of an angel and instantly dies.

Henry (Paul Rudd) and Ashley (Lake Bell) have their first psychic meeting interrupted by a disturbance in "Over Her Dead Body." (It's not a poltergeist.) In her first film credit as Eva Longoria Parker, the "Desperate Housewives" star plays deceased fiancιe Kate Spencer, whose look here makes "Ghost Bitch" a reasonable title suggestion. If only it didn't conjure up assumed connections to a certain Bill Cosby/Sidney Poitier comedy.

After spending an unenlightening moment with Kate in some spaceless, purgatory-esque location, we return to our world about a year later. Henry is understandably still morose and his well-intentioned younger sister Chloe (Lindsay Sloane) tries to help by setting up an appointment with Ashley (Bell), an acquaintance who works as a part-time psychic. Ashley has no success channeling Henry's deceased lover. But later, she reluctantly accepts Chloe's proposal to fake it a little, with some help from the late fiancιe's personal diary, to lift spirits.

When the hoax appears to be working enough to keep the skeptical Henry interested, Ashley is paid a visit by a very disapproving (but still dead) Kate. By then, the psychic-client relationship is already moving towards romance, something Kate objects to above anything else.
Keeping in mind that I immediately identified this as a romantic comedy, you can easily guess how it plays out. Dead person has contact with unwilling medium, thus throwing a hitch into "ordinary" life. In tone, it's closer to Reese Witherspoon's Just Like Heaven than the winning Ghost, but it doesn't have nearly as much success as either film.

Predictability is inherent in romcoms, so I'm willing to cut Over Her Dead Body some slack for viewers being able to guess the ultimate destination early on. But the journey there isn't too remarkable and each stage, foreseen well in advance, doesn't endear us much. Whether it's sassy ghost Kate playing tricks on the helpless Ashley or Henry getting hurt by an inevitable discovery, the concept-driven comedy presents a by-the-numbers experience, making all the expected stops but failing to provide too much entertainment in the process. In the way of surprises, the biggest one we get involves Ashley's gay catering partner (Jason Biggs), a minor character whose presence seems questionable from the start.

Jason Biggs' character Dan is okay wearing a pink shirt and bow tie. Why wouldn't he be, playing a gay best friend/caterer? Nearly all we see of Kate's afterlife is her haunting Ashley in mean but creative ways.

There are certainly a few good chuckles, some from quite unlikely places (extended flatulence, anyone?) and most from Rudd, whose character is by far the easiest to like of the three leads. But the couple of interesting ideas the movie has arise from accident and go unexplored in favor of generic romantic comedy requisites with a semi-familiar supernatural twist.

The movie does little to challenge the notion that death isn't funny. The directorial debut of seasoned sitcom writer Jeff Lowell ("Spin City", "The Drew Carey Show") isn't as spirited as he may have hoped, but the film also isn't as wretched as some of its ilk. I appreciate the opportunity it affords TV veterans like Lindsay Sloane and Stephen Root to turn in good supporting work. And even if he's not at the top of his game here, Rudd proves he's apt for more leading man material in movies better than this.

Over Her Dead Body comes to DVD three months after starting its theatrical run, where it was met with cold reviews and modest attendance. Its $7.5 M domestic gross was surprisingly surpassed overseas, where it played well in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Buy Over Her Dead Body on DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
and 1.33:1 Reformatted Fullscreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English),
Dolby Surround (English)
Subtitles: English, Spanish;
Closed Captioned
Release Date: May 6, 2008
Suggested Retail Price: $5.97 (Reduced from $27.98)
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Black Keepcase
Also available on Amazon Instant Video


In an increasingly uncommon move, Over Her Dead Body appears in both its original theatrical aspect ratio (2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen) and heavily-cropped 1.33:1 fullscreen on the same side of this dual-layered disc. The soft movie looks and sounds quite good. Of course, neither element is likely to have much effect on viewers. Like everything else in the film, the handful of visual effects were kept on a modest budget and are only slightly better than what you'd expect from a cable TV movie. The soundtrack includes bland contemporary takes on familiar songs, like Sugarcult's "I Melt With You" and Eagle-Eye Cherry's "I Can See Clearly Now." Though it's louder on the whole than other mixes, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track requires little remote-fidgeting, perhaps due to the standard New Line claim that it's been optimized for home theater.

The routine main menu suggests this could be a late-'90s film from the early, basic days of DVD. In the lack of any major special bonus features, we treat you to this additional movie cap. Lindsay Sloane (who you may remember from "Sabrina, The Teenage Witch" or maybe even "The Wonder Years") has a leading role as Henry's sister Chloe.


The only bonus feature
is Over Her Dead Body's theatrical trailer (2:30), which is quite welcome even if it's not deemed important enough to mention on the back of the case.

Other previews play at the start of the disc for the Sex and the City movie, Run Fatboy Run, Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show, Mama's Boy, and Fool's Gold. These can also be viewed as a group from the Trailers menu's "Sneak Peeks" listing.

Upholding the DVD's plain-jane feel, the static, silent menus feature basic character collages against a blue sky with cottony clouds, staying close to the poster design minorly altered for the cover. There are no inserts inside the keepcase.

Well, I guess that's cheaper than using a harness... Kate stands horizontally over the bed in which Henry and Ashley attempt to get amorous. Two of the film's best scenes take place in a supermarket. Here, Henry and Ashley have a "chance" re-encounter among colorful produce.


There isn't much to distinguish Over Her Dead Body from any other second-rate romantic comedy. Scattered light laughs and noble actor efforts fail to elevate the film above formulaic and forgettable. If you have a soft spot for the genre and the cast, you could do worse things than giving this a rental. Just don't go out of your way or expect much.

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Related Reviews:
Desperate Housewives: The Complete First Season • The Complete Second Season • The Complete Third Season
Wedding Daze • Eight Below • The TV Set • Night at the Museum • Sabrina, The Teenage Witch: The Third Season
Paul Rudd: How Do You Know • I Love You, Man • Dinner for Schmucks • Our Idiot Brother • Clueless
Thematically Related: The Heartbreak Kid • The Devil and Max Devlin • Everything You Want • Enchanted • License to Wed
New to DVD: Strange Wilderness • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly • Cloverfield

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Reviewed May 9, 2008.

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