Thursday, January 31, 2008

REVIEW: Over Her Dead Body

As published in The Technician:

Watch this over your dead body

Let's face it: Most movies these days are all the same. The vast majority of films are recycled formulas with a few tweaks here and there attempting to look "fresh." Thankfully, every once in a while, a film comes along that is different from the rest. A film that doesn't just entertain, but changes how you look at the world. Such gems are often described as "inspiring" or "thought-provoking" or "masterpieces."

I have witnessed the first film of 2008 that has changed how I view the world: Over Her Dead Body.

However, unlike movies that fall under the label of "masterpiece," I feel this one deserves its own special category: the anti-film. Not only does this romantic comedy fail to be either romantic or funny, it's also a perfect example of how not to make a film in almost every aspect. I did leave the theater with a renewed sense of fulfillment and appreciation for the world around me, but that's only because I couldn't believe I had managed to get through the past two hours without taking my own life.

The film follows a veterinarian (Paul Rudd) who hires a psychic (Lake Bell) to contact his dead fiancee (Eva Longoria Parker) in the afterlife, only to start falling for her and her supernatural abilities. Of course, this doesn't go over well with his dead girlfriend, who comes back as a ghost to keep them from ending up together. Think Ghost, but with a diabolical she-devil instead of Patrick Swayze, and without any of the things that made that film bearable to watch. You can probably guess most of the plot points and how it all turns out. The only thing surprising about this film is that it was green lit to begin with.

Parker should never be the lead actress in another movie ever again, over-performing even the simplest of lines in a tone more fit for daytime soaps than the big screen. She rigidly prances around the screen as if trying to appear formidable and antagonistic, but instead just comes across as annoying. And for those guys out there who are thinking it might be worth going just for the eye-candy, forget it -- the filmmakers even accomplish the incredible feat of making her appear unattractive. Bell fares only slightly better, delivering a performance that, at best, can be considered tolerable.

Rudd is clearly the most talented of the bunch, and manages to somehow squeeze a few pity laughs through his lines, but even he can't always act around the atrocious dialogue. Every once in a while he gets a mischievous gleam in his eye, as if he's longing to burn his contract and run triumphantly off into the sunset. He's better than this, and he knows it.

The script feels like it was written by a first-grader, from the cringe-inducing dialogue to the fart joke that lasts upwards of thirty seconds. Every single character can be summarized in two words or less, without leaving anything out: veterinarian, psychic, ghost fiancee. Is it possible for characters to be so flat that they barely even achieve one-dimensionality? Evidently.

This film has no redeeming qualities whatsoever -- even the musical overlays feel out of place and downright oppressive. The only good part is when the screen fades to black, the credits start to roll and you realize you've survived the cinematic equivalent of hell. One can only hope this is not a sign of things to come. Trust me, even if your friend begs you to go see this with him, there is only one proper response: "Over my dead body."

Rating: 0/5 stars


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