Over Her Dead Body (3/10)
by Tony Medley
There have been some funny
movies about spirits to come out of Hollywood. Cary Grant was an angel
in “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947). Of course the best were the Topper movies
in the late ‘30s-early ‘40s. And, more recently, Warren Beatty’s “Heaven
Can Wait” (1978), which was a remake of 1941’s “Here Comes Mr. Jordan.”
These were well-written, funny, entertaining comedies, all of which
centered around supernatural creatures like ghosts and angels.
Now comes writer-director
Jeff Lowell, making his feature film debut with a story of an unlikable,
bitchy young woman, Kate (Eva Longoria Parker), who gets killed on her
wedding day and then comes back to harass the fledgling spiritualist,
Ashley (Lake Bell) who is falling for Kate’s fiancé, Henry (Paul Rudd).
One thing that is clear at the outset: Longoria Parker is no Constance
Bennett (Marion Kerby in the first two “Topper” films), who is the
standard against whom all female ghosts are measured.
There is a line right at
the beginning when Henry’s sister, Chloe (Lindsay Sloane) tells Henry,
“You don’t smile.” That aptly described my situation throughout this
The main problem with the
film is that the script just isn’t very funny. But it’s made worse by
Longoria Parker’s presence that just rubbed me the wrong way every time
she appeared on the screen. Just to start out with, compounding her lack
of comedic talent, she is covered with so much pancake makeup, who knows
what she really looks like?
Kate gets killed while
setting up for her wedding by a falling frozen statue. She’s so
unreasonable that the angel who instructs her about what her afterlife
is about walks out on her (well, she actually just fades out), so Kate
finds herself back on earth as a ghost without knowing what her mission
Chloe wants Henry to
snap out of the funk into which he has naturally descended after Kate’s
death (from what I saw of Kate, he should have felt a wonderful relief),
so she introduces him to Ashley, who really doesn’t know what she’s
doing as a spiritualist (she is also a cateress to make ends meet), to
see if she can get Henry back in touch with Kate. There’s a lot of meshugaas that goes on.
The vacuity of the film is
epitomized by a “B” story revolving around Ashley’s assistant, Dan
(Jason Biggs). This is thrown in near the end, but the way Ashley
handles it indicates that she’s as much of a boob as Kate. Since Dan is
apparently attracted to both of these severely flawed women, he deserves
whatever he gets.
Eventually Kate appears to
Ashley and the fun should begin. It doesn’t, and more’s the pity because
in other hands this could have been pretty funny. As it is, Norman Z.
McLeod, Constance Bennett, Roland Young, Alan Mowbray, and Co. must be
turning over in their graves to see this is what their brilliance in the
first two “Topper” films has wrought.
January 29, 2008