Pop Culture

‘Over Her Dead Body’ has a slight comic pulse

Sometime in the very near future, “Over Her Dead Body” will be mildly entertaining to lots and lots of airline passengers. But if you’re one of those people who likes to spend Super Bowl Sunday in a movie theater — and you’ve already worked your way through all the Oscar nominees and just want to see a fluffy chick-flick — it’s at least better than “27 Dresses.”

Eva Longoria Parker gets top billing for what turns out to be a supporting role as Kate Spencer, a woman we meet as she’s being a total Type A Bridezilla, driving the catering staff crazy as she triple-checks every detail regarding her impending nuptials to dreamy veterinarian Henry Mills (Paul Rudd). One thing leads to another, and Kate winds up getting crushed to death by an ice sculpture she tried to send back. Arriving in the afterlife, Kate is so crabby and impatient with the angel trying to give her instructions that the heavenly being leaves without giving the newly dead bride-to-be vital information.

A year later, back on Earth, Henry’s sister takes him to see Ashley (Lake Bell), a caterer and part-time psychic, in the hopes of contacting Kate and giving him some closure. Ashley fails, so Henry’s sister gives her Kate’s diary so that she can fake communication with Kate’s spirit and tell Henry to move on with his life. The ruse works well enough that Henry immediately starts dating… Ashley, who feels guilty about lying to him but is swept up by his charms.

All this infuriates Kate, who assumes her spirit has been left on Earth to protect Henry, so she begins an assault on Ashley who can, after all, see and hear her. Wacky hi-jinks ensue.

To its credit, “Over Her Dead Body” was smart enough to pair the always-charming Rudd with Bell, and the two of them banter well and have definite screen chemistry. Unfortunately, writer-director Jeff Lowell’s script isn’t at their level, so the intriguing premise is undercut by a deficit of laughs.

And then there’s Longoria Parker, who not only fails to bring any comic zest as the ultimate clingy ex-girlfriend but who’s also saddled with a distracting fake tan. Since she spends most of the movie dressed in white — what with being a ghost and all — a little bronzing make sense, but with her skin, hair, and lips all the same color, it’s the most distracting monochromatic scheme since Regis Philbin matched his shirts and his ties on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (And why is such an obviously Latina character named “Kate Spencer” anyway?)

Also annoying is the treatment of Jason Biggs as Kate’s gay pal, who goes through the kind of kooky character reveal that exists nowhere outside of dopey romantic comedies like this one. Still, for all its faults, “Over Her Dead Body” offers at least a few sporadic laughs, which automatically makes it one of the less awful January-February releases.