Sunday, February 10, 2008

'Over Her Dead Body' gets some laughs

**1/2 out of ****

While heaven isn't the most desirable place to be on your wedding day, the main character in "Over Her Dead Body" would definitely say it's hell.

Eva Longoria Parker, who plays the wickedly hilarious Gabrielle Solis on the hit comedy "Desperate Housewives," doesn't need to stretch far to play her ghostly role in this romantic comedy. "Over Her Dead Body" is quite charming on its own silly terms and is much better than you might expect.

The film begins with Kate (Longoria Parker), a "bridezilla," shouting commands at her wedding staff minutes before the guests arrive. "Knocked Up's" Paul Rudd plays the groom, Henry, a friendly, laid-back veterinarian.

Running around to inspect the final touches, Kate blows up when she finds that the angel ice sculpture is missing its wings. After a heated argument with the sculptor (Stephen Root), a mishap occurs and the angel falls over and, with an ironic splat, sends her to the heavens above.

Fast-forward a year later and Henry still thinks about Kate, not moving on with his love life. Henry's sister, Chloe (Lindsay Sloane), takes him to her psychic friend, Ashley (Lake Bell), who has been told to say that Kate wants him to move on.

To Chloe's joy the plan succeeds. Henry does move on -- with Ashley. Chloe isn't the only one upset. Kate is, too! Like two peas in a pod, Henry and Ashley hit it off. But Kate's ghost, only visible to Ashley, is hell-bent on destroying their relationship. Accordingly, Kate is stuck in limbo and can pass through the Pearly Gates only after she completes unfinished business, which she believes is to protect Henry.

While the audience quickly discovers what she must really do to finally pass on, we still have fun watching Kate as she tries to figure it out for herself in this comical, supernatural love triangle.

Amusing as it might be, "Over Her Dead Body" (originally titled "Ghost Bitch" and "How I Met My Boyfriend's Dead Fiancee") falls victim to the standard plot formula of its genre -- boy meets girl, loses girl, gains girl back.

Writer Jeff Lowell ("John Tucker Must Die") points out some witty observations with laugh-out loud moments that are too sporadic, turning the film's status to lifeless in between.

A twist involving Dan (Jason Biggs), Ashley's gay business partner, towards the end is very surprising, but too ridiculous and unbelievable to be clever. To be noted, Lowell is taking double duties, making his debut as director.

Longoria Parker, dressed in white throughout the film, is hilarious, but at times needs to take it down a notch making some moments obnoxious.

Lake Bell ("Boston Legal") gets the job done well and shines in a few scenes.

Biggs flails around in a slapstick role and is quite funny while doing it. However, Rudd acts as if he is the one passing on. The main problem with Rudd is he never appears to be the type of person to marry snobby perfectionist Kate and the on-screen chemistry never comes through.

With its many high points and some flaws, "Over Her Dead Body" never fully comes alive.

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